Crystal – Tenhle kluk (Just One Look)
from SP Supraphon 013464, 1966
a Supraphon mid 1960s generic SP sleeve*
Well… ’nuff of the seventies prog-rock for a while. What we’re gonna do right here is go back. Way back. Back into time. When one of the most popular Czech vocal girl groups were… the Krystalky!
Krystal or Crystal began to sparkle on the Prague music scene in 1962 as a young rock’n’roll combo founded by guitarist Jaroslav Nevrkla. One year later the group already gigged with a stable line-up that would last for the next few years of their existence: Nevrkla, the singer Jaroslav Jarosil (could it be the same guy who recently played cello with Ian Gillan?!), the lead guitarist Jiří Řádek, Lubor Drahota on bass and Vladimír Brodský on drums. And of course there were also the “Crystalettes” or Krystalky: Jiřina Menšlová, Irena Kubátová and Eva Fatková.**
Crystal recorded over a dozen of songs for radio and TV in the mid sixties. Tenhle kluk (This Boy), a cover version of Doris Troy’s soul hit Just One Look with original Czech lyrics by Jiřina Menšlová, became their first single side in late 1966 and their biggest success. Nevrkla stated in 1967 that Crystal actually never were much into R&B or soul. Quite obviously they were covering the popular Hollies’ version of the song. Still, thanks to the ladies the song preserves some of the original soul spirit for us “despite” its mersey-beat rework, including a slight and most likely unintended touch of ska on the rhythm guitar.
Tenhle kluk was one of the earlier pure beat sides on a Supraphon single played by an independent beat group; by “independent” I mean bands aside from the “usual suspects” and rock’n’roll veterans like Olympic, Mefisto or the Miroslav Kefurt and Karel Duba combos who all used to back many pop singers for Supraphon. In 1966 the “bigbít” explosion on records was yet to come. Apropos, just for the record (pun intended), on the flip side there’s a ballad from the pop’n’swing softie Milan Chladil with the TOČR, but it’s not worth to spend any more bytes on it or whatever.
Crystal (without the girls) recorded yet another single and an EP with popular beat and R&B cover versions in 1967 before they gave up. Menšlová on the other hand founded the female vocal duo Eminent who recorded a couple of Supraphon 45s in 1969 and 1970.
* Coincidentally it’s containing the today’s track, but as far as I remember it wasn’t the original sleeve when I bought the single a couple of years ago. But it could have easily been: Supraphon wasn’t very picky about packaging, they just used to take what they had in stock. That applied even to numerous LP reissues until the early 1990s. (I plan to write an interlude later this year in order to shed more light onto the Supraphon record sleeves inferno.)
** The 7″ label lists the names as Menšlová, Kubáková and Fatková whereas J. K. Sýkora’s paperback book Czechoslovak Beat Music 67 (Panton 1968) spells them as Menčlová, Kubátová and Fadková. Since the almost 40 years old article supposedly was a transcript of a telephone interview with Nevrkla, Sýkora might have had misspelled some of the names. On the other hand, the Supraphon “empire” didn’t care about correct name spelling in way too many other cases either, so who knows…? The unofficial Czech rock discographers M. Balák and J. Kytnar (Československý rock na gramofonových deskách, Indies 1998) are even pointing out that the text on the very first pressing was spelled even more absurdely (thus turning it possibly into an interesting collector item).