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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.

Bossa Nova

2007-07-14

Jana Petrů & TOČR – Bossa Nova
recorded in 1964, from compilation “Starci a klarinety”, 2002, BMG-Ariola 743214111826

VA-Starci-a_128
CD compilation booklet

Starci na chmelu (Oldmen Picking Hop, known as Hop Side Story or The Hop Pickers) from 1964 was the first Czechoslovak musical film. The pun title “Hop Side Story” isn’t a bad analogy: like its famous U.S. mold, it tells a story of teenagers in love, outsiders and the troubles that may arise in such situations. But I’ve actually never seen the movie, so I can’t tell if it would stand a direct comparison with West Side Story. Probably not, the socialistic realism didn’t allow as much drama as in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The movie soundtrack, however, is an undisputed Czech classic. Composed by Jiří Bažant, Jiří Malásek and Vlastimil Hála with lyrics by Vratislav Blažek, it features several original hits sung by popular stars of the early sixties like Karel Gott, Josef Zíma and Karel Štědrý.

I don’t have much informations about Jana Petrů. She began to record in 1962. Apart from singing easy listening pop and foxtrot tunes she also used to perform with brass ensembles. Her most popular song was Den je krásný (It’s A Beautiful Day), a duet with Karel Gott and the signature melody from the Starci na chmelu movie. Petrů remained active as a singer until the mid 1970s. By the way, do not confuse Jana Petrů with the pop/rock singer Petra Janů (1952), whose birth name actually also was Jana Petrů. As you might have guessed by now, later she changed it in order not to get confused with the older singer…

Bossa Nova is, well, a nice bossa nova, sort of. Acoustic guitar, maracas, cheesy organ, cool voices, actually it’s got all what’s needed. The lyrics are quite absurd though: Let’s pray, let’s pray, bossa nova, bossa nova / Let’s repeat those two words, bossa nova, bossa nova / With this little prayer you’ll be coming a long way / It will help you to reach what ever you wanted / Although Charles IV was a cruel feudalist / He initiated viniculture and not hop. Uh, without seeing the movie, the connection between hop and bossa nova is somewhat beyond my horizon…

The compilation Starci a klarinety (Oldmen And Clarinetes) is a double feature: on the same CD it also contains the even more popular soundtrack from yet another musical Kdyby 1000 klarinetů (If 1000 Clarinets) from the same year.

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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.