Plameňáci/Flamingo – Malovaná kapela
from album “Plameňáci/Flamingo & Marie Rottrová 75”, 1976, Supraphon 1131695
arranged by Richard Kovalčík, produced by Květoslav Rohleder & Jan Hrábek
original LP sleeve (front/back)
Flamingo a.k.a. Plameňáci are back on the blog, my friend, albeit this time without their lead singer Marie Rottrová. Today we’ll have a first look on Rottrová/Flamingo’s third regular album. It is your very proof of the old saying that you shouldn’t judge a record by its cover. Because although the front photo sells you a softie female singer in a long blue dress fronting a variety show orchestra in tuxedos playing on a tinfoil-decorated stage in some kind of a small town multi-purpose hall where you can even recognize a couple of forgotten wooden chairs behind the stage in the top left corner, for most parts your turntable will speak the language of funk, soul, and jazz-rock.
Although called “75” and released in 1976, some of the album tracks have been already recorded in 1974, shortly before Flamingo’s original leader Richard Kovalčík passed away. But his trumpet only appears somewhere on Jiří Urbánek‘s instrumental opener Poslední okamžik (The Last Moment) which is seven minutes of boiling jazz funk featuring a long bass guitar solo; certainly not a typical way to kick off what’s actually supposed to be a pop album. Even the writer of an online review of the CD reissue seems to be rather puzzled – to put it mildly – about the original album concept and sound; well, I definitely don’t share his opinion… Anyway, it’s almost more a “Flamingo” than a “Rottrová” album because out of eight and a half songs (Quasimodo’s Dream is split into two parts on both sides) there are three original instrumental tunes while the guys also get plenty of room on the vocal tracks to show their high class musicianship.
Malovaná kapela (The Painted Orchestra) is the instrumental funk bomb of the album. This little tune could make any blaxploitation soundtrack a sought-after collector’s item, let alone a Czechoslovak pop album from the mid 1970s. I’d even go as far as to state that this gem is the ultimate original Czech funk. The latinesque groove somehow reminds me of Melvin Van Peebles’ (and Earth Wind & Fire’s) Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Written and arranged by Kovalčík, it must have been recorded after his death because according to the liner notes he doesn’t even play on it. The bad news is: this is not an edit, the original track indeed runs under two minutes. Before it fades out you’ll still get a short passionate saxophone solo by the band beau Rudolf Březina.
As I said, 75 has been reissued on a double CD as a 2-in-1 with the solid 1981 pop-soul album Muž č. 1 (The Man No. 1) as well as plenty of singles-only bonus tracks, however in the meantime it seems to be out of stock although I’ve seen a copy online while researching for this post a few weeks ago. The original vinyl is worth to pick anyway, you should try to search for Czech sources though. Overthere it’s not as rare (yet) as some online sellers might suggest, earlier this year in Prague I’ve seen mint copies for as low as CZK 50 (EUR 2).