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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.

What’s preventing me…

2007-03-03

Bohemia – Co mi brání
from 7 inch SP “Co mi brání”, 1977, Panton 440625 (Disco Serie); also on the compilation album “Gong 4”, 1977, Panton 110701
produced by Vladimír Mertlík

Bohemia_CoMiBraniSP_PantonDiscoSerie_128 VA_Gong4Panton_a_128
original SP sleeve & the compilation LP sleeve

After the “off-topic” entry from last week let’s continue with the regular schedule. You see, usually I write my articles a couple of weeks in advance. That comes in handy at the moment because as you can easily guess from the last post, I definitely wasn’t in the mood for any new funky czech-ins yet…

So… two weeks ago I have mentioned Bohemia as one of the Flamengo follow-up groups. Bohemia was founded in 1975 by saxophonist Jan Kubík and bass player Vladimír Kulhánek, along with the singer and keyboarder Lešek Semelka who came from Radim Hladík’s Blue Effect (a.k.a. Modrý Efekt). These “old cats” were later joined by the jazz-rock youngsters Michal Pavlíček on guitar, Pavel Trnavský on drums as well as the omnipresent conga master Jiří Tomek as a special guest. In 1977 Semelka has been replaced by Jan Hála though. The group sound oscillated somewhere between highbrow jazz-rock and art-rock pathos with slight traces of disco and slavic folk. Most of the material was penned by Kubík, the lyrics on the vocal tracks usually came from Pavel Vrba.

The single Co mi brání (What’s Preventing Me) appeared in the Disco Serie of the Panton label. That was a logical choice as it’s probably the Bohemia track with the highest “statistical danceability” (as Frank Zappa would have said). Both sides were composed by Semelka who, unlike Kubík, tended more towards pop music. The b-side contains nothing worth mentioning on this blog though. Interestingly, at that time the whole group was also involved in the Svoboda brothers’ studio project Discobolos, who already had a cameo appearance on Funky Czech-In as the backing band for a Jiří Schelinger song; Discobolos used to be gettin’ down pretty funky and I’ll bring them back very soon.

The inclusion of Co mi brání on the Panton Gong 4 compilation probably shouldn’t be judged as a high honor for Bohemia, however. On the album there’s another slightly danceable track by fellow jazz-rockers Abraxas, a nice folk-rock song by Hana & Petr Ulrych, a neat drum break in a silly bubble-gum tune from ex-Flamingo co-singer Petr Němec, as well as a full-blown Czech version of Boney M’s Daddy Cool sung by Josef Laufer. But the rest of the LP will be highly irrelevant to you if you share my musical taste, and some songs are even so stupid that it’s almost offending. I wonder if another 1977 Bohemia 7 inch, Pavlíček’s King Gong from the Panton Mini Jazz Klub series, sort of reflected or even parodied this rather unpleasant fact. Unfortunately I don’t own it so I can’t tell you, thus it’s just a guess from the track name… (Just for the record, the Panton Gong series ran from the mid 70s until the late 80s. Like most Czechoslovak pop compilations from that era, they are not really worth getting unless you’re a real hardcore collector or if you are looking for one of the very few rock or disco tracks on it. I can only “recommend” Gong 2, 3, 4 and 6, but mostly only for the Czech versions of a couple of 1970s international disco hits which might be hard to find elsewhere. I might post some of them in the future.)

Bohemia released their debut art-jazz-rock album Zrnko písku (Grain Of Sand) in 1978 and disbanded shortly thereafter. Semelka successfully re-joined Blue Effect (then known as M Efekt) and became a pop singer. The rest of the group continued to work as session musicians. The latest record with Kubík’s participation that I own is the ex-C&K Vocal singer Luboš Pospíšil’s debut solo album from 1982; Kubík eventually emigrated and I couldn’t find out yet what he’s been doing ever since. Trnavský played with Jazz Q as well as with Jana Kratochvílová before both emigrated to the UK. Pavlíček worked with Kratochvílová, too, also with Mahagon, Jan Spálený, Eva Olmerová or Jana Koubková. In 1980 he (and initially also Tomek) joined the new wave edition of Michael Kocáb’s legendary Pražský výběr with whom he “co-wrote” the Czechoslovak popular music history and became one of the most original and influential Czech rock guitarists until these days. (I mean, in the mid 80s he surely influenced me a lot!)

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Disclaimer

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 supraphonline.cz.

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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.