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Eastern Bloc Disco at Centrala (Playlist for Feb 3, 2017)

4 Feb

Generic Sleeve [Pronit, Poland, 1960s]

The second Eastern Bloc Disco event took place yesterday evening at Centrala, Birmingham, as part of the monthly Digbeth First Friday, and this set ran from around 8pm until 10.40pm (after which a pre-prepared short mix featuring a few other songs, also listed below, saw the event through to its end, more or less). A further collaboration with Centrala, on an archival exhibition and series of events exploring the history, ephemera, design, film and wider political and cultural contexts surrounding some of these artists and sounds, is currently in development for the Summer of 2018. [Watch this space].

Grupa 220: Negdie Postoji Netko (Yugoslavia, 1968)
Koncz Zsuzsa & Illés Együttes: Fáradt Vagyok (Hungary, 1967)
Izomorf 67: Barwy Dzwieku (Poland, 1967)
Karel Černoch: Snídaně v Trávě (Help) (Czechoslovakia, 1971)
Marta Kubišová: Balada o Kornetovi a Divce (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Blackout: Powiedz Swoje Imie (Poland, 1967)
Polanie: Dlugo Się Znamy (Poland, 1968)
Karel Kahovec & Flamengo: Poprava Blond Holky (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
George & Beatovens: Lez Blazniveho Basnika (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Sarolta Zalatnay: Betonfej (Hungary, 1968)
Koncz Szusza: Visz a Vonat (Hungary, 1970)
Petr Spaleny & Apollobeat: Kdybych Ja Byl Kovarem (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Vaclav Neckar & Golden Kids: Goo-Goo Barabajagal (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Breakout: Pozlabym za Toba (Poland, 1969)
Illés Együttes: Nehez Az Ut (Hungary, 1968)
Janko Nilovic: Xenos Cosmos (Yugoslavia/France, 1974)
Czerwono Czarni: Lot na Wenus (Poland, 1969)
Hana & Petr Ulrychovi: A Co Ma Bejt (Czechoslovakia, 1970)
Angelika Mann: Wenn Ich Mal (DDR, 1974)
Hana Zagorová: Svatej Kluk (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Chris Doerk: Glaub Nicht (DDR, 1974)
Czeslaw Niemen & Akwarele: Baw Się W Ciuciubabkę (Poland, 1969)
Josef Laufer & Their Majesties: Útěk z Hladomorny (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Grupa ABC: Za Duzo Chcesz (Poland, 1970)
Jana Kratochvílová & Discobolos: Kyvadlo (Czechoslovakia, 1978)
Bemibem: Podaruj Mi Trochę Słońca (Poland, 1973)
Alibabki: Slonce w Chmurach Lazi (Poland, 1969)
Drugi Nacin: Zuti List (Yugoslavia, 1975)
Olympic: Tobogan (Czechoslovakia, 1970)
Emil Dimitrov: Scherazhade (Bulgaria, 1972)
Arp-Life: Baby Bump (Poland, 1976)
Walter Kubiczeck: Tentakel (DDR, 1979)
Grupul Stereo: Coloana Infinită (Romania, 1984)
Marta Kubišová: Tak Dej Se K Nam A Projdem Svet (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Eva Pilarova: Ohen a Led (Czechoslovakia, 1970)
Izabela Trojanowska: Jestem Twoim Grzechem (Poland, 1981)
Grupul Stereo: Plopii Impari (Romania, 1984)
Manaam: Stoję, stoję, czuję się świetnie (Poland, 1980)

Prepared Mix:

Olympic: Ikarus Blues (Czechoslovakia, 1968)
Sarolta Zalatnay & Metro: Fekete Beat (Hungary, 1973)
Filipinki: Nie Ma Go (Poland, 1967)
Halina Frąckowiak: Wodo, Zimna Wodo (Poland, 1974)
Kovács Kati: Add Már, Uram, Az Esőt (Hungary, 1972)
Marta Kubišová: Svlikam Lasku (Czechoslovakia, 1969)
Czeslaw Niemen: Enigmatyczne Impresje (Poland, 1971)
Omega: Gyöngyhajú Lány (Hungary, 1969)
Locomotiv GT: The Worlds Watchmaker (Hungary/Poland, 1974)
Tadeusz Woźniak: Zegarmistrz Światła (Poland, 1972)

Various Artists: Privni Pantoniada (Panton) [7

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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.

Wedding Playlist: Britannia Boat Club, Nottingham (4 June 2011)

12 Jun

In case anyone was there and wondered what the hell was going on behind the decks, here’s a list (in order) of what came out of the record boxes and found its way to the turntables during a short but (hopefully) sweet set on the night:

Breakout: Poszlabym Za Toba (from Muza EP ‘Opole 69’)
Breakout: Gdybys Kochal, Hej! (Pronit 45)
Blue Effect: Sun Is So Bright (from Panton EP ‘Sen Neni Vecny’)
Petr Ulrych/Atlantis: Wine Or Love (Supraphon 45)
Karel Kahovec/Flamengo: Poprava Blond Holky (Supraphon 45)
Atlantis: Don’t You Break It Again (Nepierusuj!) (Supraphon 45)
Vera Spinarova: Den a Noc (She’s Not There) (from Panton LP ‘Andromeda’)
Hana & Petr Ulrychovi: A Co Ma Bejt (from Supraphon LP ‘13HP’)
Viktor Sodoma a Girls: Vysoka Hra (Supraphon 45)
Martha & Tena: Boure (Panton 45)
Illes: Nehez Az Ut (from Qualiton LP ‘Exmusic/Nehez Az Ut’)
Olympic: Ikarus Blues (from Supraphon LP ‘Ptak Rosomak’)
Alibabki: Slonce w Chmurach Lazi (from Pronit LP ‘Kwiat Jednej Nocy’)
Petr Spaleny/Apollobeat: Kdybych Ja Byl Kovarem (Supraphon 45)
Vaclav Neckar/Golden Kids: Goo Goo Barabajagal (Supraphon 45)

Karel Kahovec & Flamengo: Poprava Blond Holky (Supraphon, 1967)

26 May

Poprava Blond Holky is a product of the Prague Spring in every way, from its driven freakbeat sound to its strange folk-tale like lyrical content, which reads as an allegory of unaccountable power seen through the lens of Edgar Allan Poe or a Brothers Grimm story. The use of fairy-tales as material for songs was fairly common, perhaps because this material was perceived as ‘safe’ yet could still be made to carry other meanings: The Rebels’ Šípková Růženka (Sleeping Beauty) and Petr Novak’s Kraska a Zvire (Beauty and the Beast) are only two examples. Helena Vondráčková and Vaclav Neckar even starred in a musical fairy-tale film, Šíleně Smutná Princezna (Madly Sad Princess), one of many produced by Czech film studios. The lyric in Flamengo’s song certainly seems to have some connections with this lineage:

Katův sluha volá, že se právě koná,
poprava blond holky, která byla svolná,
a za kousek stříbra šla prej s každým spát,
ubohá, á-á-á, vždyť já jí měl tolik rád.

Ví snad ňákej soudce, proč se dala svíst,
jak je bídně holce, nemá-li co jíst.

Kněz už ruce spíná, málo času zbývá,
nad hlavou blond holky sekera se zdvíhá,
holka hlavu sklání, když v tom volám stát,
ubohá, á-á-á, vždyť já jí měl tolik rád.

Ví snad ňákej soudce, proč se dala svíst,
jak je bídně holce, nemá-li co jíst.

Král však povel dává, a blond hlava padá,
škoda je tý holky, byla ještě mladá,
i když žila v hříchu, měla právo žít,
ubohá, á-á-á, v nebi je jí možná líp.

The full meaning of this strange blend of folktale and political allegory in Ivo Plicka’s text is unclear and this English version is riddled with guesswork, some bits of it more firmly based than others: it may have been a device to smuggle in a comment on the abuse of power while leaving the song easy to interpret as being directed at Western or pre-Communist rule (the girl is killed because the state has been usurped by “those who own everything” with the aid of a priest and corrupt, apathetic  judges) or perhaps it really is nothing more than a fairy-tale story reworked into a big beat context. Whatever the intentions, the lyric is surprising in relation to the feel of the music, and this is one case where having an idea about what the lyric means complicates rather than instantly illuminates the experience of hearing the song. A live version (filmed at 1967’s Beat Festival in Prague) can be heard here.  

Poprava Blond Holky (A Blonde Girl’s Execution)

(after Karel Kahovec/Ivo Plicka, 1967)

The hangman’s servant holds the executioner’s calls
for the blonde girl is to be killed at noon today:
as her wishes pass like silver from hand to hand
she makes her final choice: to sleep again.

But, ah, poor girl, I had so much love for her –
maybe knowing the judge would have got her out
but her meal’s miserable and he’s still to eat.

The priest lifts a hand, waves a desultory cross,
the axe is raised, already, above her head;
she wonders where the law and the state have gone
when the owners of everything can kill a girl.

But, ah, poor girl, I had so much love for her –
maybe knowing the judge would have got her out
but her meal’s miserable and he’s still to eat.

The king gives command and her blonde head falls,
the body of a girl – still young – lies still:
though a judge had decreed she was living in sin
she’d as much right to her life as anyone.

But, ah, poor girl, I had so much love for her –
maybe knowing the judge would have got her out
but her meal’s miserable and he’s still to eat.

The hangman’s servant held the executioner’s calls
for the blonde girl was killed today, by law;
when those pieces of silver passed from hand to hand
she made her final wish: to sleep again.