Vladimír Mišík & Etc… – Nejlepší ženská našich dnů
from album “Etc… 2”, 1980, Supraphon 11132558
produced by Hynek Žalčík & Jan Spálený
original LP sleeve
If anybody deserves the title Living Legend of Czech Rock, Vladimír Mišík has to be the one, which is an undisputed fact, I guess. He’s been right there out in front from the very beginning: Matadors, George & Beatovens, Blue Effect and of course Flamengo. Flamengo disbanded shortly after their epochal album Kuře v hodinkách (The Chicken In The Wrist-Watch) has been recorded in 1972; this period will be covered in a future Funky Czech-In post. While many of his former fellow rockers either emigrated to the West or decided to splash about in shallow socialistic pop muzak in order to make some living, Mišík stayed true to his passion all the way through, even in times when “rock” certainly was a bad word in the land behind Brezhnev‘s Iron Curtain. After a short intermezzo with Luboš Andršt’s Energit, around 1975 he formed a rock group with the symptomatic name Etc. Although the line-up changed accordingly often, the group sound remained surprisingly compact as Mišík’s first solo album from 1976 proves. That was not only due to his characteristic singing in a bluesy manner, but also thanks to his long-time band mate, the virtuoso violinist, composer and arranger Jan Hrubý. Other musicians involved over the years are the who-is-who in Czech rock anyway: Pavel Fořt, Vladimír Padrůněk, Anatoli Kohout, Jiří Jelínek, František Francl, later also Petr Skoumal, Stanislav Kubeš or the ex-Flamengo bassist Vladimír Kulhánek. The album Etc…2 was recorded in 1979 with Petr Pokorný on guitar, Jiří Veselý on bass, the drummer Jiří Šustera and Jan Kolář on keyboards and oboe, besides the aforementioned Hrubý.
Nejlepší ženská našich dnů (The Best Woman Of Our Days) opens the album with a simple and bright slavic folk rock theme. (This is not unusual for Mišík at all; in times when the communist authorities used to push hard on the group, cancelling their regular gigs, Mišík & co. often performed “unplugged” in small clubs with a mixture of blues and folk songs.) But after this short intro Mišík introduces us to the “best woman of our days”. And obviously, that lady wants to party! Well, it’s 1979 and the Etc… crew delivers her the latest get-down soundtrack, laying down about two minutes of a tight funk rock groove that might please even a hard core P-Funk aficionado. In the second part of the song each musician presents his individual skills to the lady in a breathtaking series of short mini-solos – and I do mean solos – before all guys join forces again for the final section, taking the tune back where it originally started. Not surprisingly, the song was co-written by the virtuoso bass player Veselý. The ironical lyrics came from writer and translator Michal Staša.
The other eight songs of the album oscillate between the typical Mišík singer/songwriter folk like his biggest hit Variace na renesanční téma (A Variation On A Renaissance Theme), the sarcastic cajun blues Sladké je žít (It’s Sweet To Be Alive) and the dismal high-speed jazzrock Na okraji (On The Edge) which was written by their former guitarist Jiří Jelínek, also a member of the legendary Mahagon who died tragically in 1977, aged mere 23.
Okay, I may be surely biased because I’m listening to this album since the early eighties, but Etc…2 doesn’t have a single weak point. I admit though that it may help if you understand the Czech language to fully appreciate it. But even then, this record is so full of high class musicianship that it can be compared to the mighty Kuře v hodinkách, which again is actually a Mišík album, too… So, when I initially said “Living Legend”, I surely mean it, and not just because nowadays Vladimír Mišík knows only one opponent that can sometimes keep him from entering a stage and singing his ass off: his long-standing asthma. Obviously his illness has been quite bad recently, so unfortunatelly Mišík had to cancel most of his summer gigs this year.
The rest of the Mišík story will be told another time while I’ll introduce you to Flamengo. In the meantime, “turn up the lights, the best woman of our days comes inside, the day turns into night, the night turns into day, should I trust my eyes or my dreams?” And now, buy it already (try [also] eBay or
Gemm for vinyl), will ya?! This record is timeless.