Eva Pilarová & TOČR – Padni na kolena (Piece Of My Heart)
from 7 inch single “Vlny”, 1970, Supraphon 0431049
conducted by Josef Vobruba, produced by Miloš Skalka
original SP sleeve (a generic “Pilarová” sleeve with additional imprint on the back)
As I have promised, here’s more soul from Eva Pilarová. Her star sank slightly in the second half of the 1960s, after a new breed of female singers popped up on the Czech scene: the miss pop Helena Vondráčková, the C&W queen Naďa Urbánková, the chanson-girlie Hana Zagorová or the beat ladies Marta Kubišová and Marie Rottrová. Pilarová’s educated alto voice on the other hand – while technically perfect – usually sounded a bit “academic”, possibly too academic for young listeners interested in contemporary pop music. She’s always been more comfortable in pop-jazz, swing or even in classical music rather than being an expressive soul or rock shouter. Nevertheless, bravely following the vogue she recorded a couple of soulful and funky tunes around 1970 as well.
Piece Of My Heart is one of the most recognizable female soul songs of the late sixties. Originally written in 1967 by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy for Aretha’s older sister Erma Franklin (1939-2002), it has been widely popularized by Dusty Springfield in 1968 and of course ultimately immortalized by Joplin’s Big Brother & The Holding Company the very same year. I must say, however, that personally I prefer the softer versions over Janis’ overrated hysterical scream orgy. And thanks to a TV ad from a jeans manufacturer, even Franklin’s nearly forgotten yet still unmatched original came back to consciousness of a wider audience more than a decade ago.
Pilarová’s rendition Padni na kolena (Get Down On Your Knees) with Czech lyrics by Zdeněk Borovec exactly follows Dusty Springfield’s model and therefore also stays quite close to the original version. While the Dance Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Radio (TOČR) and an unnamed choir did a steady job as usual, the tune suffers from a horrible mix, mastering and pressing: the guys at Supraphon obviously must have had a really bad day then. (Note that I have done quite a lot of “clean-up”, normalization and re-compression while digitalizing the track. The 7″ side in its original “glory” sounds much worse!)
As far as I know, this song has never been reissued yet. And what’s more surprising, the single doesn’t even show up in Pilarová’s official discography document. So grab it while it’s hot or good luck hunting.