13HP is officially the debut LP by Hana & Petr Ulrychovi, though it was actually the second album recorded by the duo, after the first, Odyssea – a concept LP made with their regular band at the time, Atlantis – was shelved by the State record label in 1969 and finally released only in 1990, shortly after the Velvet Revolution. Despite his prominent public stand against the invasion, Petr Ulrych was not, in the end, permanently banned from recording or performing, though he and Hana moved increasingly into explorations of Moravian folk music and away from the rock and beat music of their earlier period. 13HP is something of a transitional recording, featuring powerful material in both pop and folk idioms, and the opening song, Rozmaryn, ostensibly a love song, flirts with imagery that seems intended as a comment on the loss represented by the ending of the Prague Spring (some background on the Ulrychovis is available at Lou Kash’s excellent Funky Czech-In blog). The song itself can be heard here, and the original Czech lyric is available to read here.
(after Petr Ulrych, 1970)
Spring came and the birds were nestled in green,
their songs could heal the wounded clouds.
The sun poured its blessings on my Rosemary’s skin.
There were shades of scarlet in the deeper blue
where shadows warmed her cascade of yellow hair.
I was sacrificed gladly on that altar of hers.
More birds, and more, came to sing in the trees
idling while I sang my Aves to the clouds.
This was proof. Spring was here: had promised to stay.
But I heard one passing bird in the leaves overhead,
its song might have been Dreamers or A Pilgrim’s Walk.
It sang loudest, a music-box whose levers turned.
Then all the bird-song sounded metallic and false
like a pendulum ticking in a grandfather clock.
I no longer basked in the light of my Rosemary’s face.
So I listened once more to those clockwork birds
wound tight in a music that sounded too thin.
Spring came and the birds were nestled in green.