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Eastern Bloc Disco Playlist (Nottingham Contemporary, 16 Jan 2016)

16 Feb

Generic Sleeve (Pronit)

Last month, to celebrate the opening weekend of Monuments Should Not Be Trusted (curated by Lina Džuverović) and expand on the display of Eastern Bloc 7” records included in Behold! The Markets Shall Erase Our History! (both exhibitions remain at Nottingham Contemporary until 04 March), an Eastern Bloc Disco was staged, featuring soul, rock, psychedelia, pop, folk and more, all released by the official state record labels of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany and the USSR between the early 1960s and mid-1980s. The session also included a live set from UrBororo, Pil & Galia Kollectiv’s new venture into “skewed filing cabinet swamp blues for corporate inflight listening” – an “objectively boring” band whose songs are made from an unlikely merger between the sounds of surf, grunge and punk, and whose lyrics are borrowed from a 1970s Management Self-Help guide.

The all-vinyl playlist for the night ended up looking something like this:

Marek Grechuta: W Pochodzie Dni I Nocy (Poland, 1974)
Raimonds Pauls/Margarita Vilcāne: Līgotāji (Latvia/USSR, 1974)
Izomorf 67: Barwy Dzwieku (Poland, 1967/8)
Raimonds Pauls/Nora Bumbiere: Divpadsmit Asaras (Latvia/USSR, 1974)
Blackout: Powiedz Swoje Imie (Poland, 1967)
Grupa 220: Negdie Postoji Netko (Yugoslavia, 1968)
Vera Spinarova: Andromeda (Czechoslovakia, 1972)
Krystyna Pronko: Po Co Ci To Chlopcze (Poland, 1973)
Czeslaw Niemen & Akwarele: Baw Się W Ciuciubabkę (Poland, 1969)
Josef Laufer & Their Majesties: Útěk z Hladomorny (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Flamengo: Kure v Hodinkach (Czechoslovakia, 1972)
C&K Vocal: Generace (Czechosolovakia, 1974)
Omega: Gyöngyhajú Lány (Hungary, 1969)
Romauld & Roman: Pytanie Czy Haslo (Poland, 1970)
Drugi Nacin: Zuti List (Yugoslavia, 1975)
Piotr Figiel: Dyplomowany Galernik (Poland, 1974)
Olympic: Ikarus Blues (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Locomotiv GT: Ringasd El Magad II (Hungary, 1973)
Hungaria: Koncert a Marson (Hungary, 1969)
Blue Effect: The Sun Is So Bright (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Olympic: Everybody (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Breakout: Gdybys Kochal Hej (Poland, 1969)
Illes: Nehez Az Ut (Hungary, 1968)
Karel Kahovec/Flamengo: Poprava Blond Holky (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
George & Beatovens: Lez Blazniveho Basnika (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Martha & Tena: Boure (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Atlantis: Don’t You Break It Again (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Petr Spaleny & Apollobeat: Kdybych Ja Byl Kovarem (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Sarolta Zalatnay: Betonfej (Hungary, 1968)
Halina Frackowiak: Wodo, Zimna Wodo (Poland, 1974)
Stan Borys: Wyplakalem Oczy Niebieskie (Poland, 1969)
Koncz Szusza: Visz a Vonat (Hungary, 1970)
Emil Dimitrov: Scherazade (Bulgaria, 1972)
Marta Kubisova: Tak Dej Se K Nam A Projdem Svet (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Hana & Petr Ulrychovi: A Co Ma Bejt (Czechoslovakia, 1970)
Angelika Mann: Wenn Ich Mal (DDR, 1974)
Arp-Life: Baby Bump (Poland, 1976)
Walter Kubiczeck: Tentakel (DDR, 1979)
Grupul Stereo: Coloana Infinită (Romania, 1984)
Izabela Trojanowska: Jestem Twoim Grzechem (Poland, 1981)
Grupul Stereo: Plopii Impari (Romania, 1984)
Chris Doerk: Glaub Nicht (DDR, 1974)
Vaclav Neckar & Golden Kids: Goo-Goo Barabajagal (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Czerwone Gitary: Coda (Poland, 1970)
Grupa ABC: Za Duzo Chcesz (Poland, 1970)
Marta Kubisova: Cervanky (It’s Not Unusual) (Czechoslovakia, 1968)

Generic Sleeve (Supraphon)

Through the evening, a muted playlist of videos also ran on a large screen, and everything shown at the event can be seen in the Eastern Bloc Disco playlist compiled here – between 2 – 3 hours of visuals in total, now available with their soundtracks intact.


Czerwone Gitary: Nie Zadzieraj Nosa (Pronit, 1966)

9 Apr

Often this site’s song choices, for fairly obvious reasons, have focused on the material whose lyrics are most suited to adaptation into something resembling a literary form, so consider this song by Poland’s star Big Beat combo Czerwone Gitary a hint at the more conventional modes of pop song that are far more widely represented on LPs and 45s than this site generally tends to imply: Nie Zadzieraj Nosa offers an example of something with no literary pretensions whatsoever. On the back cover of To Wlasnie My (This is Us), the band’s 1966 debut LP, Nie Zadzieraj Nosa is glossed as Don’t Show Off, which suggests the literal phrase, Don’t Wrinkle Your Nose, (or, perhaps, Don’t Turn Up Your Nose) is idiomatic in the way that the same line is in English: a request to ‘put aside your pretensions and join in the fun’, as the rest of the lyric so clearly insists. Czerwone Gitary (Red Guitars) were founded by 23 year old Jerzy Kossela in 1965, drawing members from other bands of the time and recorded all over the Eastern Bloc, occasionally beyond. Initially seeming like an early Beatles styled act, expertly if not entirely originally deploying jangling guitars and close harmonies on a whole clutch of catchy pop tunes, from their third LP onwards they began to develop into a far less easily classifiable proposition, with Rytm Ziemi (Rhythm of the Earth) and Płoną Góry Płoną Lasy (Burning Forest Burning Fires) making key contributions to a compelling back catalogue peppered with experimentation and genre-blurring. By the mid-seventies, the band had returned to a (mostly) mainstream repertoire of old hits and love songs, but recordings by individual members like Krzysztof Klenczon continued to experiment outside the group itself. Nie Zadzieraj Nosa hails from 1966, their earliest phase, and can be heard here.

Nie zadzieraj nosa (Don’t Wrinkle Your Nose)

(Seweryn Krajewski/ Marek Gaszyński,  1966)

Don’t wrinkle your nose and make that face.
Don’t put on airs or dismiss the five of us.
Come on, change it all for the better now!
In just a moment you could be a friend of ours.

If you’ll loosen up, join us, we’ll all have fun.
Come on, get started, let’s share a party now!
Let us persuade you it should be like this.
If you’ve got troubles, well, we’ve had worries too.

And if you want to sing, sing along with us.
This is your chance: we’re playing just for you!
Have fun with us, now, if you want to dance,
Tomorrow we’re leaving and you’ll still be here.

But you’ll remember our songs, and sing along,
and when our chorus starts, we’ll be back again!
If you want to sing, well, sing along with us,
this is your chance, we’re playing just for you!

So don’t wrinkle your nose and make that face,
don’t be shy or try to put down the five of us.
Come on, let’s change it all for the better now!
In just a moment, you could be a friend of ours.

If you join us, we’ll all be friends and dance.
Come on, have some fun, let’s all party now!
Let us persuade you things should be like this!
If you’ve got troubles, well, we’ve had worries too.

Czerwone Gitary - To Wlasnie My… (Pronit, 1966)