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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.

Pendulum

2007-07-06

Discobolos – Kyvadlo
from album “Discobolos”, 1978, Supraphon 1132348
conducted by Jiří Svoboda, produced by Michael Prostějovský

Discobolos_1_a_128 Discobolos_1_b_128
original album sleeve (front/back)

As I stated before, Discobolos was a studio project of the brothers Karel (1938-2007) and Jiří Svoboda (1945-2004). While Karel became (in)famous as a hitmaker and later as a composer of musicals, Jiří was mainly active writing film and TV scores. The highlights of his career were two movie scores written for the director and future Academy Award winner Jan Svěrák in 1991 (Obecná škola) and 1993 (Akumulátor 1).

Established at the zenith of the disco era, Discobolos was one of the few projects when the Czechoslovak pop music industry was able to keep pace with a global vogue. (Not that it comes as a big surprise: unlike rock, for sure the communist censors considered disco ideologically “safe” due to the lack of any serious verbal message.) Apart from studio work for artists like Jiří Schelinger or Helena Vondráčková (the 1980 album Múzy/Music), Discobolos released two “solo” albums in 1978 and 1979: Discobolos and Disco/Sound. The latter consisted mostly of “recycled” and disco-fied versions of older pop hits writen by Karel Svoboda. The first album, however, contained original material including one of the most popular Czech disco hits Dlouhá bílá žhnoucí žhoucí kometa (A Long White Glowing Comet) sung by the exceptional vocal talent Jana Kratochvílová (1953).

Kratochvílová’s unmistakeable voice also adds the spice to the theme melody on Jiří Svoboda’s nearly-instrumental Kyvadlo (Pendulum). Czech pop music has never been closer to American disco-funk than with this tune, despite the occasional timing problems which the drummer seemed to have. Nonetheless, the studio group was built around a competent bunch of rock and jazz musicians, then also known as Bohemia: Vladimír Kulhánek on bass, Michal Pavlíček on guitars, percussionist Jiří Tomek, saxophonist Jan Kubík and Pavel Trnavský who was obviously the said drummer. On few tracks even Lešek Semelka appeared as the lead vocalist. Lots of keyboarders were involved anyway: Pavel Větrovec, Karel Štolba, Jan Hála and of course the Svoboda brothers. Additional vocals à la Silver Convention were provided by the female trio Viktorínová/Nopová/Jakoubková alias Bezinky.

Both Discobolos vinyl album should be quite easy to find in Prague or in Czech online stores, since they were anything else but rare. I’ve even seen some on flea markets in Switzerland recently. In fact, that reminds me that I still have a copy for sale – for one Euro only! (Yes, there’s a caveat: one track is badly scratched, that’s why.)

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2009-09-19: Interlude: Vampi Czech-In, part 1
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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.