Funky Czech-In

An introduction to Czech and Slovak pop music from the sixties, seventies and eighties with a touch of funk, soul, disco and jazz.

In memoriam Dr. Gui, the funky drummer


The Plookers – Back To The Egg (The Conclusion)

from CD “Das erste Mal”, 1997, Consou M’Teem Pelh Produkt CMTP9701

Plookers – Das erste Mal

left to right: Dr. Gui, Martina ThC, Felice, Anita Polverosa & yours truly

Sad news from the Funky Czech-In headquarters: on Friday, 30 June 2017, the Swiss drummer Guido Rath – also known as Dr. Gui – has died was found dead, aged 53. He was a member of three of my bands: “Felix” in 1994, then he was drumming with The Plookers from 1995 to 1997 as well as with their follow-up MØPP (Martina & Øgl Punk Project) in 1997 and 1998. Thanks to his solid backing, especially the Plookers were going pretty funky at times, even defining a new musical category called Schmuddelfunk. But not only that: Dr. Gui also happened to be the best man at my wedding! All these achievements are making Dr. Gui fully eligible for the induction ceremony into the newly created Memorial Czech-In category.

Dr. Gui of The Plooker, March 1996

Dr. Gui(do Rath) of The Plookers, March 1996

Guido Rath was born on 31 December 1964 in canton Lucerne where he lived until the 1980s. He studied pharmacology in Lausanne (yep, his doctor title was no joke!) but by the 1990s he eventually relocated to Berne where he performed with bands like The Frozen Popes. The latter also featured his fellow dr. pharm. Felix “Felice” Hasler on bass guitar who eventually was to provide his first name to the aforementioned “Felix” group (although actually led by Patrick Lerjen, d’oh) and to become another future funky Plooker. Fast forward into the 2000s when Dr. Gui continued to lend his drumming skills to several lokal groups from Berne, among others performing with the Madukas, and most recently in trio with Gold.

Back To The Egg (The Conclusion) was the closing track from the sole Plookers CD release “Das erste Mal” from 1997. The basic track was recorded in September 1996, actually at first being just a soundcheck jam-session while warming up for the upcoming CD recording session on the Wasserwerk stage in Berne. Felice improvised his bass line, with Dr. Gui spontaneously joining in on drums and Anita Polverosa hitting the cowbell while yours truly was busy attempting to capture the incoming sounds on a borrowed analog 16-track tape recorder. But this very take was then deemed too schmuddelfunky to be just ignored and ditched as an ordinary soundcheck. And thus during several overdub sessions in October and November 1996 at the Firma van Øgl headquarters, more instruments and voices were eventually added to the mix, featuring Martina ThC, Anita Polverosa, Barbara Zbinden and Hannes Meier on vocals and handclaps, yours truly on lead vocals, guitars and Farfisa Syntorchestra (an “antique” instrument owned by Dr. Gui, nota bene), also featuring special guest (and sadly another Memorial Czech-In member) Dänu “Sleepy Dan” Boemle with a couple of preliminary words to the world, and last but not least introducing Anita’s underage son Michi on additional random voice effects.

There are still a couple of CD copies available, so if you like what you hear, feel free to order one:

And have a drink on Dr. Gui. He’s now back in his cozy egg until the end of The Universe As We Know It™. Cheers, doctor!

Working in the coal mine


Blue Swede – Working In The Coal Mine

from album “Hooked On A Feeling”, 1973, EMI ST-11286
produced by Bengt Palmers

blueswede_hookedonafeeling_a_128 blueswede_hookedonafeeling_b_128
original LP sleeve (front/back)

As you might have noticed, I have created a new label exclusively for this post, named Obscure Czech-In. That wasn’t without a reason because the other secondary label of this entry, Half Czech-In, is pure speculation on my part. To explain: I’ve found Hooked On A Feeling last year in a second hand record store (coincidentally it was in Prague, but that doesn’t matter here) and at first I thought, “well, yet another cheap one hit wonder from the seventies, nothing of interest for me.” On the second sight, however, there were three things that caught my attention: 1) the group had a “built-in” horn section (often a good sign), 2) they covered an Allen Toussaint song (they had taste!), and finally 3) the guy who’s credited to play clavinet and organ had a surprisingly Czechoslovak-sounding name – Ladislav Balaz [sic]. Well, to make a short story shorter, in the end I bought the record but except for a few tracks I was rather disappointed when I heard it at home. In the meantime I sold it again already.

Blue Swede were better known as Björn Skifs & Blåblus in their home country Sweden. Their international breakthrough came with a cover of B. J. Thomas’ hit Hooked On A Feeling, the title track of this album, which climbed up to no. 1 on the U.S. pop charts in 1974. The group’s style was kind of on the edge between early 70s pop and soulful brass-rock. At times they sounded almost like Chicago, for example, but still more on the pop side of things. The musicians who participated on this recording were, apart from Skifs, Jan Guldbäck (dr), Bo Liljedahl (b), Mikael Areklew (g), Tommy Berglund (tp), Hinke Ekestubbe (ts) and on keyboards the aforementioned Baláž (as the name should be spelled correctly in Czech or in Slovak).

Really, I surfed the word wild web for many long hours but I coudn’t find any other trace of a keyboarder named Ladislav Baláž except that he was playing on this particular record; I don’t think that he could be this guy, though. And interestingly enough, I can’t even hear much keyboards on this particular track either, unless it’s a clavinet and not a guitar in the centre of the stereo panorama when the verse is playing. Nevermind, whatever, Working In The Coal Mine is still my personal highlight of the album, despite the “Czech connection” perhaps being only a mirage. And besides that, I’m definitely a fool for any Allen Toussaint song. Hence this is the first of only two opportunities known to me to post a Toussaint cover on this very blog in the first place…

Day by day (in memoriam, the 3rd)


Stano Táska & Strawberry Jam – Day By Day

from a demo recording 1997

This is simply unbelievable! The series of friends of mine passing away just doesn’t want to stop! Yesterday I’ve received an e-mail message that Stano Táska has tragically died last Saturday while kayaking in a creek near Adelboden, Switzerland. He was only 37 years old.

Stanislav “Stano” Táska was a goodhearted Slovak guy who came to Switzerland in the early 1990s. We met in March 1997 in Berne when I was looking for a new flatmate. Quickly we became good friends and so we were sharing the flat for more than a year. Stano used to live with Bobina, his Slovak girlfriend at that time, in one large room, while me and my cat were occupying the other two tiny rooms. He was originally an agronomist by profession, but also a very talented saxophonist. In Switzerland he began to play as a street musician busker, later he studied at the Swiss Jazz School Berne and gigged with various jazz, funk and party combos all over the country. In the recent years he concentrated on his other passion though, working as a co-leader and cook of the Bernese restaurant Im Juli. And last but not least, Stano was also a passionate sportsman in all available elements: on earth, in the air and in the water. (Yes, it’s both him in action on those images!)


Stano at his wedding party in 2004 (photo borrowed from

In my archives I have found several tracks featuring Stano on the tenor sax. My favorite one is the dynamic soul-jazz flavored tune Day By Day. It was recorded by the Strawberry Jam quartet in a rehearsal room in Solothurn on June 15th 1997 with my analogue 8 track mobile studio (yes, the one I once bought from Hannes Lange who passed away in April). Although I was the recording and mixing engineer of the session, I can only recall that the drummer’s name was Pascal Aeby.
Unfortunately, the guitarist and the bass player are unknown to me ten years later. And I’m not even sure if the tune was an original composition or a cover; to me it actually doesn’t sound like that known old standard as interpreted e.g. by Sinatra and many others.
A Swiss party group called Strawberry Jam seems to be active these days in the Solothurn area again. So it’s quite likely that there’s some kind of a connection to the above jazz quartet of the same name from 1997. (I can check it out later, although it’s quite beyond the scope of this blog.)
Update 26.9.2007:
Pascal Aeby, the drummer of the original Strawberry Jam jazz combo, has written in the comments yesterday, that he’s the composer of this tune and that the other two musicians were Sven Rieger on guitar and Cosimo Staffieri on bass. The band broke up after Rieger had to return to Germany. He also stated that the Strawberry Jam party group mentioned above obviously has nothing to do with Stano’s and Pascal’s original group whatsoever.

Also in the late nineties, Stano used to be a member of the acid jazz combo Da Groove Yard from Burgdorf near Berne. They have released an EP entitled Good Talk then. Low quality audio examples as well as old photos with Stano on saxophone are still available on their web site. Since the group would also qualify for my Half Czech-In series, I might return to them in a future post. Their sound was nothing really earth-shaking though and even Stano didn’t blow his solos with as much juice as usual. I remember that he wasn’t very happy about playing with Da Groove Yard in general and eventually he quitted by the end of the decade.

Although we were in sporadic e-mail contact lately, I didn’t see Stano for over five years. Last summer I went to visit him in his restaurant during one of my very rare trips to Berne, but unfortunately he wasn’t there on that afternoon…

Rest in peace, Stano. You will be sorely missed by way too many!

Recent posts

2017-07-08: In memoriam Dr. Gui, the funky drummer
2017-02-12: In The Game Preserve
2016-02-17: Interlude: Vampi Czech-In, parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7
2009-09-19: Interlude: Vampi Czech-In, part 1
2008-08-31: Mercy Mercy Mercy




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The audio samples are presented as a “specimen” to encourage readers to buy the artists’ albums. Many of the tracks presented herein are available for purchase in MP3 or FLAC format at


All written content is © 2006– by Lukáš Machata (Lou Kash). Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. If you’d like to use portions of my articles, please contact me first.