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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.

Rosemary

2007-01-05

Hana & Petr Ulrychovi – Rozmarýn
from album “13 HP”, 1971, Supraphon 1130888
produced by Michael Prostějovský, arranged by Ota Petřina, conducted by Josef Vobruba

UlrychHanaPetr_13HP_a_128
original LP sleeve

Sixties stuff seems to be quite popular among you, dear readers, so here’s another one. Sure, I know that this album has been released in 1971. But it was recorded one year earlier which still puts it mathematically into the 1960s, doesn’t it. (You do know that, don’t you? Or were you one of those fools who were celebrating the 3rd millennium one year too early…?!) And even then, due to technical and political circumstances we used to be behind a few years anyway, so don’t be too picky about the exact recording dates here…

Petr Ulrych (1944) from Brno and his five years younger sister Hana were already experienced performers when the debut album 13 HP finally came out. With their group Atlantis (not to be confused with the mid 70s German soul-rock group of the same name) they have recorded a couple of successful single sides in the late 60s. Petr’s songs were at the top of the unofficial Czech radio charts. Unfortunately, the planned very first long player, the ambitious folk-jazz-rock opera Odyssea from 1969 (recorded only a few months later than the world’s first “official” rock opera, Tommy by The Who!) didn’t pass the 1970 communist censorship anymore and it has never been released until 1990!

13 HP is mainly a folk-rock album with influences from soul and Moravian ethnic folk. It has been produced in collaboration with the ex-Golden Kids guitarist, arranger and songwriter Ota Petřina and the Dance/Jazz Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Radio (TOČR/JOČR). Only four out of ten songs were written by Ulrych, the producers probably wanted to be on the safe side regarding their previous experience with the raging censors. But that certainly doesn’t make it a bad LP at all.

Rozmarýn (Rosemary – the herb) is one of the original Ulrych tracks, a driving rock song with loud drums, swirling Hammond organ and Petřina’s screaming lead guitar, peppered with a precise horn section and dramatic strings. The lyrics talk about the upcoming spring time that might heal open wounds from the past, but the mood remains melancholic, not to say highly pessimistic. After all, the Prague Spring was over and everybody knew it. I really wonder how Ulrych’s lyrics managed to pass the censorship this time.

As a matter of fact, Hana Ulrychová doesn’t seem to be featured on this song at all. But don’t despair, dear fan of singin’n’swingin’ sixties girls. Her time on Funky Czech-In is going to come too, perhaps with my other favorite tune from the album, the up-tempo soul song A co má bejt (So What). In other words: the Ulrych/Atlantis legend is going to be continued.

Rozmarýn has been included on the Ulrychs’ recent best-of-compilation, but be aware that the double CD logically focuses on their later Moravian world music works; so perhaps you might want to check out a few samples first. Some vinyl is usually available on eBay, but if you’d like to own this particular album you’d better google and buy from Czech sellers. You can also buy two one nice 45s from my own online record store, just search there for “ulrych” (items no. 1219 and 1232).

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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.

Copyright

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.