Česko-Slovensko má/měl Talent

I have recently had the good fortune to have had a week’s stay in Brno, going off to the two towns that made the career of the then-still-young Valinka in 1968, in the ‘Talent 68’ series.

Working out that the two places where she would have performed in such an event would have been, in Jihlava, the DKO and in Česká Třebová, the Kulturní centrum, I went and paid homage to the footsteps of Valinka in the customary fashion of going down on my knees and kissing the ground on which she may have trod as a sixteen-year-old hopeful from the probably unlikely place, to many in Jihlava and Česká Třebová, of Michalovce.

Here were those two precious places.

First – where Valinka came second – the DKO Jihlava, where I noticed that Milena Steinmasslová, of that film very closely associated with Valinka, ‘Jak utopit dr. Mráčka aneb Konec vodníků v Čechách’, is to appear in a production of ‘Richard III’ and that there was a forthcoming production of ‘Carmen’, in which my mother played the title role in her years with Derby’s Laurence Lee Grand Opera Society, where her first principal role was as the Czech woman, Mařenka in Bedřich Smetana’s ‘The Bartered Bride’…

Second – where Valinka went one better! – the Kulturní centrum Česká Třebová, in which town I actually managed to get a bargain of circa a kilogramme of bananas from a very friendly local Vietnamese chap who gave me a special reduction since I didn’t have quite the right money in small change! :-)…for lunch rather than breakfast, but, even in ‘Bananas For Breakfast’-Land, one can’t have everything!

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Boldog 45. születésnapot ‘Láska na dlani’ és ‘Náhodou’!

Four-and-a-half decades ago to the day, as I write, ‘Láska na dlani’ (‘Love On The Palm Of Your Hand’) and ‘Náhodou’ (‘By Chance’) were recorded by Valinka (the former in a duet with Richard Kybic) at Mozarteum, Prague, so it’s a “Happy 45th Birthday!” to those two recordings.

It’s always welcome to have geographical locations name-checked in Pop songs that aren’t either in the U.S. or the UK, or in what most in the English-speaking world may consider a ‘glamorous’ location, so – like the lyrics Valinka’s ‘Mít areo a létat’ (‘To Have A Plane And To Fly’) reference Slovakia’s Lomnický Štít, those of ‘Láska na dlani’ reference the Czech Republic’s River Sázava, which I am sure would suit that great fan of Valinka’s, Aleš Korábek, whose home town is Žďár nad Sázavou, on that very river! Here are those lyrics, as always – when the text of the lyrics are available – with a suitably modified translation courtesy of ImTranslator.

It can clearly be seen that – as in the lyrics of ‘Mít aero a létat’, where Valinka is taking the hand of a shy boy to take him on love’s ‘great adventure’ – Valinka here, also clearly, is fully intent on taking Richard all the way…over the Sázava and the Nile, if needs be! It does not ‘need’ to be said, however, that the song fairly crackles along, as Valinka’s recordings with Skupina Svatopluka Čecha do!

On: Mám tě rád.
Ona: Máš mě rád a dál nevíš nic.
On: Vždyť přece říkám.
Ona: Že mě máš rád, chtěla bych víc.

He: I love you.
She: You love me and you know nothing more.
On: I mean, I say.
She: That You love me, I want more.

On: Mám tě rád
Ona: Nestačí!
On: Má láska je hit
Ona: Je mi to málo, budeš se smát, chtěla bych víc.

He: I love you
She: It is not enough!
On: My love is a hit
She: It’s little to me, you’re having a laugh, I want more.

On: Smím tě pohladit až se sešeří?
Ona: Láska k obědu, láska k večeři, láska stále jen táž, dokonalá stráž.
On: Láska v dohledu, láska na dlani.
Ona: Láska k obědu, láska k snídani.
Oba: Prázdné slovo i rám, papírový prám.

He: Can I caress you when you sneeze?
She: Love for lunch, love for dinner, love still just the same, the perfect guardian.
On: Love in sight, love on the palm of your hand.
She: Love for lunch, love for breakfast.
Both: An empty word and frame, paperwork.

On: Mám tě rád.
Ona: Máš mě rád, to jediný víš.
On: Vždyť přece říkám.
Ona: Řekni mi sníš, tak jako já.

He: I love you.
She: You love me, you only know.
He: I mean, I say.
She: Tell me you dream, like me.

On: Mám tě rád.
Ona: Nestačí! Vždyť láska je sníh, slunce a stín a žízeň i smích, dávat i brát.
On: S láskou přeplavu Nil i Sázavu.
Ona: Znám tvou představu, dál už neplavu.
Ona: Bázeň o které vím, už dávno nemá rým.

He: I love you.
It is not enough! Love is snow, sun and shadow and thirst and laughter, giving and taking.
He: With love, the crossing of Nile and Sazava.
She: I know your idea, I’m not afraid anymore.
She: The fear I know about no longer was a long time ago.

On: Láska bohyně.
Ona: Láska na hraní.
On: Láska k svačině.
Ona: Láska k snídani.
Oba: Láska krotká i zlá, co věčně říkává.

He: Love the goddess.
She: Love to play.
He: Love for a snack.
She: Love for breakfast.
Both: Love is tame and evil what he always says.

On: Mám tě rád.
Ona: Má mě rád a nechce se ptát zda ho mám ráda třeba i já, nesnáší pád.
On: Mám tě rád.
Ona: Nestačí!
Oba: Vždyť láska je žít, plakat i dýchat, smát se i snít, dávat i brát.

He: I love you.
She: He likes me and does not want to wonder if I like him, I do not like falling.
He: I love you.
It is not enough!
Both: Love is to live, to cry and to breathe, to laugh and to dream, to give and to take.

Turning our attention to ‘Náhodou’, I remarked in the ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ Blog post regarding ‘Mít aero a létat’ that Valinka certainly laughed at the laws of (musical) gravity in 1973. The seventeen-second-long note she lets out in ‘Náhodou’ was very much what I had in mind when I wrote that. I have also previously remarked upon the three-cornered fight that went on at the time between the three ‘Little Ladies with the Huge Voices’ who were all still teenagers as 1970 ticked over to 1971 – Valinka herself, Věra Špinarová and Jana Robbová. I sort of like to think that, when Věrka and Janka heard what Valinka had come out with in ‘Náhodou’, with ‘that note’, they must have thought something like, “Oh! It’s definitely time to throw in the towel now!”.

About a year down the line, on 21st September 1974, Valinka performed ‘Náhodou’ on the television show, ‘Zpěváci Supraphonu – Hudební obrázovka 8’ (‘The Singers Of Supraphon – Musical Screen 8’), wearing one of her very sexiest outfits, in my opinion – what could be described as a sort of ‘baby doll’ polka-dot mini dress. To see what I mean, just go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Pictures’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’. In four of the stills I took from that performance thanks to the ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’ (‘Stories Of The Famous – Time Flies’) documentary on Czech television it almost looks like Valinka adds to that sense of sexiness by being in a ‘musical orgasm’ when she sings ‘that note’. It is around that part of the documentary when Aleš Korábek remarks that he was “impressed in every way” by Valinka at the time. That performance – in an outfit like that, singing a song like that – would have been a perfect illustration of why Aleš was thus ‘impressed’ and maybe the producers of the documentary thought that would be the perfect juncture at which to insert that extract…a full video of which has still not appeared on YouTube, much to my surprise, since I am sure that it would be very popular!

To play these two songs and for the recording details and credits, please go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’.

‘Náhodou’ – the song where Valinka went ‘all the way’!

Boldog születésnapot, ‘Koko’!

As last year was this is a double celebration – now just yesterday, as I write, late at night! – of the recording anniversaries – this time around, the forty-seventh – of ‘Koko’, by Valinka herself and ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’, over on ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, by Hana Zagorová, the former being a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Co-Co’ and the latter being a cover of Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’.

By way of a comparison, just eleven days beforehand, on the West German TV show, ‘Disco’, both ‘Co-Co’ and ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’ had been performed.

If one goes over to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ for the recording details and credits and to play ‘Koko’ I think one can sort of see why, on that day in September 1971, Valinka took on a song originally performed by a man while Hanička took on one originally performed by a woman, since it is a decidedly manly performance that Valinka turns in on ‘Koko’ and I adore the way her voice bounces, rings and hums along above Jezinky’s backing vocals, never once being overwhelmed by them.

Elsewhere, I have described ‘Koko’ (in Czech!) in terms of British Bubblegum/Glam Rock as Czechoslovak Soul, with that deep, ‘Black’, soulful voice of Valinka’s.

Being a person who came to Northern Soul appreciably after its original heyday of the Mid-1970s, in the wake of the Mod Revival of the Late 1970s and everything that emanated from that and being one who, at that time, would have described myself as a bit of a ‘Headbanger’ instead, I like to think that ‘Koko’ could not only bring the countries of the Capitalist and Communist worlds together – now we have no longer have an Iron Curtain between us and there is a thing called the World Wide Web! -. It may even have the power to unite two polar opposites like Glam Rock and Northern Soul.

How about a new genre? (Because someone of Valinka’s power could surely give birth to one!)

‘Glam Soul’ anybody???…and ‘Koko’ is ‘it’!!!

‘Byl’s Má Bój’ – ‘Czech Up! Vol 2: We’d Be Happy’

By way of an exciting item of ‘Late News’ I am delighted to report that Valinka’s ‘Byl’s Má Bój’ is a track on the compilation album, ‘Czech Up! Vol 2: We’d Be Happy’, as reviewed on the ‘It’s Psychedelic Baby’ site in this post.

I am afraid to say that I had to report a couple of errors in the review, but, apart from that, I loved what it had to say about both Valinka and ‘Byl’s Má Bój’.

Could my YouTube uploading have done the trick???

Boldog 45. születésnapot, ‘Žár léta’!

Sometime back in the late Summer of 2016 I was beginning to delve a little deeper into Valinka’s recording repertoire, beyond what I had hitherto encountered via YouTube, thanks to a then-recent discovery of her albums on Spotify. One of the tracks that particularly stood out, on the ‘Singly 1969 – 1973’ album, was ‘Žár léta’ (‘The Heat Of Summer’). It struck me that this was no ordinary Pop song. What came to mind was the grand Cabaret-style performances of the likes of Édith Piaf, no less.

Shortly after that it also dawned on me that 1973 must have been a particularly spectacular year in the recording studio for Valinka – the year during which she’d have fully come of age, of course – due to my finding the recording dates of selected recordings by Valinka at Aleš Korábek’s Valérie Čižmárová Fan Site, with six singles, plus their flip sides – note, not ‘B-Sides’…all of Valinka’s recordings being under the ‘A’ and ‘AA’ classification, but then again, they’re all much too good to be a ‘B-Side’, even though that does, admittedly, frustrate the ‘Killer-B’ aficionado in me! – having been recorded, plus ‘Žár léta’, in that year, the recording of ‘Žár léta’ being in the very High Summer of that year: four-and-a-half decades ago to the day as I write this ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ Blog post, fittingly, in the heat of Summer!

Only a fortnight plus a day previously Valinka had laid down the spectacular ‘V poschodí pátém’ (‘On The Fifth Floor’) and the gorgeous and sumptuous ‘Malý princ’ (‘Little prince’), so this was clearly an artist at the very top of her form. Less than a fortnight before that – on 28th June 1973 – Valinka had appeared on the television show, ‘3. program orchestru Karla Vlacha’ (‘The 3rd Programme Of The Karel Vlach Orchestra’), performing ‘Pojď jen dál’ (‘Just Come On’) from which show the ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ title image above is taken. A performance like ‘Žár léta’ is yet another one of those cases – thinking that that was the Valinka who recorded ‘Žár léta’ – that frequently rear their heads of that utter mismatch between the unbelieveably cute, young, little blonde and the ship-in-full-sail scale of what emerged from those beautiful lips at times.

Please go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ to play my YouTube video of ‘Žár léta’, just uploaded today, with some appropriately Summery photos of Valinka – one of her with her mother, two from what I take to be on tour in either Poland or the German Democratic Republic in the following year and another of Valinka posed in front of the Skupina Svatopluka Čecha (The Svatopluk Čech Group) with whom Valinka made six of her 1973 recordings – and an arrangement of Summer flowers from my garden, in a glass vase with the word ‘Tchécoslovaquie’ impressed on the bottom – I love ‘French Connections’, given that it was the discovery of the life and times of the French artist, Carene/Karen Cheryl that set me off on the trail of female Pop Stars of the European Continental Mainland of the 1970s, which led to the sister Blog of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and then to ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ itself…and I have referenced Édith Piaf earlier in this post! – which must have been something like taking the proverbial ‘coals to Newcastle’, given France’s glass-making fame, if the fact that Czechoslovakia is written in French is supposed to indicate that it was made specifically for the French market!

Listen to ‘Žár léta’ and be (very) amazed…certainly in the build-up to the conclusion!

Boldog születésnapot, ‘Lásko Má, Kéž Je Vítr Příznivý’ és ‘Ten Pravý, Ten První, Ten Můj’!

In the midst of all the celebrations in which I am engaged on this auspicious occasion of my 57th birthday (???) today I must not forget to mention ‘Lásko Má, Kéž Je Vítr Příznivý’ (‘My Love, I Wish The Wind Were Favourable’) and ‘Ten Pravý, Ten První, Ten Můj’ (‘Right, First, Mine’), both recorded by Valinka for the ‘Various Artists’ LP, ‘Zelené písničky’ (‘Green Songs’), celebrating the work of Czechoslovak TV, on my 16th birthday on 19th July 1977.

Here are the rather colourful front and rear covers of the sleeve of ‘Zelené písničky’.

Zelené_Písničky_Front

Zelené_Písničky_Rear

For full recording details and credits, please go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’.

As is often the case in the course of Valinka’s recordings the grandeur of her voice in these two recordings stands in remarkable contrast with the sheer cuteness of her persona, as shown by this cover shot, dated 1977, by Antonín Krčmál, for her latter years singles….as if smilingly to say, “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen, my fan of the future!”

By the way, I have reason to believe that the shot was reversed for the cover, as was the immortal rear cover shot for Valinka’s 1974-recorded eponymous LP released in 1975, so here it is helpfully reversed, ie., the right way around!

singly-1974-1981_Cropped_Flipped_02