martedì 11 settembre 2018

BLUE EFFECT - "A BENEFIT OF RADIM HLADÍK" [aka "MODRÝ EFEKT & RADIM HLADÍK"] (1974)

Known as Blue Effect, Modrý Efekt, or M. Efekt, depending on the album, the band lead by guitar player Radim Hladík was one of the most important music acts to ever emerge in Czechoslovakia. 
After starting as a song-oriented project, they embraced instrumental jazz-rock when most of rock music was banned for its subversive lyrics. 

This is their fifth album, the fourth in the jazz-rock style, and probably their best. Whilst their previous efforts were too unbalanced towards free jazz ("Coniunctio", 1970) or sounded like some poor man's Chicago ("Nová syntéza", 1971), this one is mature, original, and intense.

It was recorded in 1973 and released at the end of 1974, in a limited edition for the export market. That version was credited to "The Blue Effect" and titled "A Benefit of Radim Hladík". It was then reissued for the local market one year later, credited to "Modrý Efekt & Radim Hladík", which also became the title of every following edition.

Every song is composed and arranged by Hladík, who shows his musicianship with crazy, intricate jazz fusion solos. Bass player Josef Kůstka and drummer Vlado Čech jam at full speed, with funk gusto and syncopated times, while Lešek Semelka's organ and piano provide a symphonic prog touch.
Jazz legend Jiří Stivín appears as a guest, playing wind instruments.

It's not easy to compare this album to anything else. You can try to imagine a symphonic prog version of Mahavishnu Orchestra, but it would be a mere approximation. 
It is also worth noticing that the slow section of "Boty" totally sound like Camel's "Song Within a Song", which would have been recorded only three years later.
This is quite simply one of the best instrumental progressive rock albums ever. 


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

sabato 28 luglio 2018

R.I.P. Kora

Maanam's main vocalist and Polish rock icon Kora is dead at 67, after a five year battle with cancer (local journals are stating that she had to sold her house to afford the high treatment costs).

If you don't know Maanam yet, you can find all their earlier works here on Soviet Sam.




lunedì 4 giugno 2018

giovedì 26 aprile 2018

PHOENIX - "MUGUR DE FLUIER" (1974)

Phoenix are the most important rock band from Romania.
This is their second album, the one with stronger folk influences. In fact, Whilst you could hear traces of Romanian tradition even in their debut album, here it becomes the dominant force. Many songs are acoustic, and the electric ones have one foot in folk music as well, with violin, percussion, and odd meter patterns.

Even though the band had to cope with the censorship of Ceaucescu's regime, the album was another huge success and songs like "Strunga" and the title track became classics.
The sound quality may come across as slightly muffled, but if you like progressive rock and folk music, you should not miss this little gem.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

mercoledì 10 gennaio 2018

JAROMÍR NOHAVICA - "PORUBA" (2017)

Jaromír Nohavica is the greatest and most popular Czech singer-songwriter. 

He was born in Ostrava in 1953 and has occasionally written lyrics for other artists while having his own day job. Only at the start of the Eighties he began to sing his own songs.
As his ambition grew, his work got more and more political, which prompted the authorities to ban him from performing and recording. He was able to release his first album only in 1988, when the Soviet system was collapsing. He was already 35 years old. 

The enormous popularity in his home country has important echoes in Slovakia and Poland as well, where he may not be a star, but can surely claim cult status. 

I am introducing him on this blog with this brand new album, which he released last November. Since most of his old music is message-centered, I think "Poruba" is better suited as a gateway to his world rather than a simple voice-and-guitar album. 
In fact, the tracklist proves Nohavica's curious spirit, with tense piano ballads ("Empire State"), grotesque doggerels with accordion ("Černá jáma"), and even hip hop experiments (the title track). There are not many singers out there that can claim such a fresh album at the age of 64.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)