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Eastern Bloc Disco at Centrala (Playlist for August 4, 2017)

8 Aug

Sarolta Zalatnay: Hadd Mondjam El (Pepita)

The latest version of Eastern Bloc Disco took place on August 4 at Centrala, Birmingham, as part of the regular Digbeth First Friday, a mix of soul, rock, psychedelia, disco, pop, folk and more, all released on the official state record labels of Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany and other Eastern Bloc states between the early 1960s and late 1980s. For this latest session – commissioned to accompany the launch of Terra Firma, an exhibition of work produced during a month on Birmingham’s canals by Italian resident Hungarian artist Barbara Mihályi – there was a particular (but by no means exclusive) emphasis on music from Hungary. An archival Eastern Bloc Songs exhibition is in development with Centrala for the summer of 2018.

Eastern Bloc Disco Playlist (August 4, 2017)

Raimonds Pauls & Margarita Vilcāne: Līgotāji (Latvia, 1974)
Karel Cernoch & Juventus: Procitnuti (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Zsusza Koncz & Liversing Egyuttes: Jaj, Mi Lesz Velem Ezutan (Hungary, 1971)
Alibabki: Slonce w Chmurach Lazi (Poland, 1969)
Illés: Nehéz az Út (Hungary, 1968)
The Rebels: Definitivní Konec (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Hungaria: Koncert a Marson (Hungary, 1969)
Sarolta Zalatnay: Betonfej (Hungary, 1968)
Hana Zagorová: Svatej Kluk (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
George & Beatovens: Dívky Z Perel (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Sarolta Zalatnay: Fekete Beat (Hungary, 1971)
Halina Frąckowiak: Wodo Zimna Wodo (Poland, 1974)
Corvina: A Tüz (Hungary, 1974)
Kati Kovacs: Add Már Uram Az Esöt (Hungary, 1972)
Illes: Nekem Oly Mindegy (Hungary, 1972)
Czeslaw Niemen & Akwarele: Baw Się W Ciuciubabkę (Poland, 1969)
Sarolta Zalatnay: Hadd Mondjam El (Hungary, 1973)
NOVI Singers: Torpedo (Poland, 1969)
Vaclav Neckar/Golden Kids: Goo Goo Barabajagal (Czechoslovakia, 1970)
Petr Spaleny & Apollobeat: Kdybych Ja Byl Kovarem (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Karel Cernoch: Zlej Sen (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Vera Spinarova: Den a Noc (Czechoslovakia, 1972)
Sarolta Zalatnay & Metro: Mostanában bármit teszünk (Hungary, 1967)
Yvonne Prenosilova: Zimní Království (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Marcela Laiferova: Mlc (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Filipinki: Nie Ma Go (Poland, 1968)
Hana Ulrychova & Bluesmen: Zpívej Mi Dál (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Atlantis: Don’t You Break It Again (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Koncz Szusza: Visz a Vonat (Hungary, 1970)
Chris Doerk: Glaub Nicht (DDR, 1974)
Angelika Mann: Wenn Ich Mal (DDR, 1974)
Valérie Čižmárová: Čekám (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Kyri Ambrus: Ez a Szerelem (Hungary, 1970)
Mária Hoffmann: Mini Tini Panaszai (Hungary, 1974)
Metro: Ha Júliát Kérdeznék Meg (Hungary, 1970)
Stan Borys: Wyplakalem Oczy Niebieskie (Poland, 1969)
Bergendy: Tramp – Részlet (Hungary, 1971)
Bonka Najdenova: Proletni Stypki (Bulgaria, 1975)
Beatrice: Gyere Kislány Gyere (Hungary 1977)
Die Caufner Schwestern: Komm Doch (DDR, 1978)
Judit Szucs: Urdiszkó (Hungary, 1979)
Koukeri: Брой До Сто (Bulgaria 1984)
Plexi & Frutti: A Vásár (Hungary, 1989)
Gigi: Divat a Fontos (Hungary, 1985)
Jana Kratochvílová & Discobolos: Kyvadlo (Czechoslovakia, 1978)
Grupa ABC: Za Duzo Chcesz (Poland, 1970)
Grupul Stereo: Coloana Infinită (Romania, 1984)
Bemibem: Podaruj Mi Trochę Słońca (Poland, 1973)
Marika Késmárki: Törött Szék (Hungary, 1971)
Bezinky: Polnočný Vlak (Czechoslovakia, 1975)
Emil Dimitrov: Scherazhade (Bulgaria, 1972)
Olympic: Tobogan (Czechoslovakia, 1971)
Drugi Nacin: Zuti List (Yugoslavia, 1975)
Corvina: A Mosolyomon Ordög Ul (Hungary, 1977)
Sarolta Zalatnay: Már Nem Tudom (Hungary, 1976)
Izabela Trojanowska: Jestem Twoim Grzechem (Poland, 1981)
Syrius: Hol Az Az Ember (Hungary, 1976)

The all-Hungarian visuals from the night can be seen as a YouTube playlist here.

Illes: Illesek Es Pofonok... (Qualiton)

25 Jan

I’ve wanted to include this particular song since a friend first alerted me to its importance in the Hungarian context around two years ago, but that same importance has made it something it seemed crucial to get at least approximately right, and the absence of any workable and reliable gloss from the Hungarian has meant it’s only now that I’ve had an opportunity to make even this tentative attempt at an English version of the lyric. Written by the Belgrade-born but Hungarian-resident brothers Zorán and Dusán Sztevanovity for their group, Metro, in 1967, the song gained prominence when featured in a film documenting the emerging youth culture of the time, Ezek a Fiatalok (These Young People). The lyric in Hungarian runs roughly as follows:

Mostanában bármit teszünk, egyre több a vágy.
Ki az, akit vádolnak? Ki az, akit vádolnak?
Téged is, ha életkorod nem sokkal a húsz év fölött jár.
Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak? Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak?
Tűnik az, hogy korosztályunk másképp él, mint jó apáink,
nem hasonlít mégse rájuk, náluk néha többre vágyik már.
Mostanában bármit teszünk, egyre több a vágy.
Ki az, akit vádolnak? Ki az, akit vádolnak?
Téged is, ha életkorod nem sokkal a húsz év fölött jár.
Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak? Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak?
Vétek az, ha hajunk hosszú,kedves táncunk nem a tangó.
Ki az, akit vádolnak? Ki az, akit vádolnak?
Tánczenénk ha gyors, ha lassú, számukra csak fület bántó zaj.
Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak? Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak?
Évek múlva biztos mi ishallunk ehhez hasonlókat,
egyszer tán a fiaink is így mondják el bánatukat majd.

Coming only a decade after the brutal suppression of the 1956 uprising, the accusatory tone, and the song’s assertion of a basic right to be, well, young, was a potent mix. The studied insolence of the very young Sarolta Zalatnay in this performance is utterly remarkable, every bit as charismatic as her Western contemporaries and predecessors, but it’s the context of the song that seems most forceful. The refrains demanding to have accusations and charges spelled out would have had a particularly powerful bite in a context where dissidence could still be an arrestable offence, so while on a par with many equivalent Western songs asserting the rights of the young, Mostanában is a song that in its own time and place must have made a stronger statement than the familiarity of some of its sentiments to Western ears would, by themselves, indicate. The song, as performed in Ezek a Fiatalok, can be heard here.

Mostanában bármit teszünk (These Days, Whatever We Do)

(after Zorán Sztevanovity/Dusán Sztevanovity, 1967)

These days, whatever we do, it seems we want more:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

We’re not even twenty, hanging out with our friends:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

Our fathers are another age, we don’t compare, we want more now!
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

We’re not even twenty, hanging out with our friends:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

We don’t dance the tango, and you think it’s a shame:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

Our dancing’s fast, our music hurts your ears:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

I’m sure when we’re older, we’ll dance more slowly ourselves:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

That day, our sons will start to complain about us:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

But these days, whatever we do, it seems we want more:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

We’re not even twenty, hanging out with our friends:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

What are we accused of? Who has been accused?
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?