Blackout was formed by the talented guitar player Tadeusz Nalepa in 1965. In the following years they released nine singles and one album. The album is among the best Eastern bloc beat albums I've ever heard with influences from rhythm & blues, Motown, soul and harmony pop. The songs are magnificent with both male and female vocals (also with elaborate harmony vocal arrangements). The instrumental sound is balanced between bluesy lead guitar and feeble farfisa organ. They sound influenced by The Animals, Rolling Stones (Aftermath), The Action and even The Byrds. Blackout eventually evolved into Breakout (see below).
|1||BLACKOUT||1967||PRONIT XL 0437|
In 1968, Blackout split up, with Nalepa, Hajdasz and Kubasinska forming its natural successor Breakout, who released the classic album Na Dnigim Brzegu Teczy. They played a thrilling mixture of beat, heavy r&b with signs of psychedelia materializing in Nalepa's fuzz and wah-wah guitar runs ("Masz Na To Czas"). Their early 70's albums centered around plain blues-rock (guitar + harmonica + vocals) comparable to Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown and early Fletwood Mac. Blues (1971) is usually considered as their best album from this period, although Ogien (1973) had a magnificent 15 minute title track.
After 1975 they abandoned blues-rock in favour of plain melodic rock (now also including electric piano and synthesizer), but without sacrifing their artistic qualities.
|1||NA DRUGIM BRZEGU TECZY||1969||PRONIT SXL 0531|
|2||70A||1970||MUZA SXL 0603|
|3||BLUES||1971||MUZA SXL 0721|
|4||MIRA||1971||MUZA SXL 0778|
|5||KARATE||1972||MUZA SXL 0858|
|6||OGIEN||1973||MUZA SXL 1004|
|7||KAMIENIE||1974||MUZA SXL 1140|
|8||NIEZIDENTYFIKOWANY OBIEKT LATAJACY (NOL)||1976||MUZA SX 1300|
|9||ZIDENTYFIKOWANY OBIEKT LATAJACY (ZOL)||1979||MUZA SX 1766|
|10||ZAGIEL ZIEMI||1979||PRONIT SX 1821|
This group formed in 1973 and soon became a subculture among Polish hippies. Their first album was a minor classic, shifting between hard rock and jazzy slow tracks. Vocalist Krzysztof Cugowski sounded like a cross between Roger Chapman and Czesław Niemen (who indeed played keyboards on this album). The album is now heralded as one of the best 70's albums from Poland, mainly due to the magnificent 18 minute "Jest Szalony Koń".
Przechodniem Bylem Miedzy Wami (1976) was closer to "serious rock", featuring six well-constructed songs with careful string arrangements that grow with repeated listening. The longest track "Najdzuzsza Droga" was a kind of jazzy hard rock with electric guitar, moog, sax, clavinet, strings and quiet piano segments with soulful vocals. The later albums gradually became more and more ordinary pop-rock.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1981):
|1||CIEN WIELKIEJ GORY||1974||MUZA|
|2||PRZECHODNIEM BYLEM MIEDZY WAMI||1976||MUZA SX 1398|
|3||NA BRZEGU SWIATLA||1979||PRONIT|
|4||ONA PRZYSZLA PROSTO Z CHMUR||1980||MUZA|
|5||ZA OSTATNI GROSZ||1981||TONPRESS|
|S1||BUDKA SUFLERA 1974-1984||1984||MUZA|
|.||WOKOL CISZA TRWA||1978||MUZA|
In the sixties Czerwone Gitary were the Polish answer to The Beaties, strongly influenced by their 1964-65 period (and playing a lot of cover versions). The group was formed by Jerzy Kossela along with three other ex-members of Niebiesko-Czarni plus a new drummer. The name translates into The Red Guitars, relating to the fact that the only electric guitars available in Warsaw at the time were red guitars made in Czechoslovakia. Spokoj Serca (1971) should be their most interesting alburn for readers of this book, as it contained heavier sounds such as fuzz guitar and violin rather than the mediocre orchestrated pop songs of their mid-70's albums.
|1||TO WLASNIE MY||1966||PRONIT XL 0350|
|2||CZERWONE GITARY 2||1967||MUZA XL 0396|
|3||CZERWONE GITARY 3||1968||MUZA XL 0479|
|4||NA FUJARCE||1970||MUZA SXL 0599|
|5||SPOKOJ SERCA||1971||MUZA SXL 0734|
|6||RYTM ZIEMI||1974||MUZA SXL 1166|
|7||DZIEN JEDEN W ROKU||1976||MUZA SX 1364|
|8||PORT PIRATOW||1976||MUZA SX 1383|
|S1||BEST OF||1979||MUZA SX 1762|
|S2||BEST OF 2||1991||MUZA SX 2962|
|S3||BEST OF 3||1991||MUZA SX 2963|
|A1||CONSUELA||1971||AMIGA 855 250|
|A2||ROTE GITARREN||1978||AMIGA 855 621|
|S1||CZERWONE GITARY. WARSZAWA||1971||AMIGA 855256|
Franliszek Walicki formed the first ever Polish rock band in 1958, which in a few years evolved into Czerwono-Czarni (red black). Apparently their line-up changed a lot of limes, but most of the album sleeves only credited the singers. Their first album contained mainly r&b and beat material, influenced by anything from The Animals to The Kinks. Msza Beatowa (Beat Mass), composed by Katarzyna Gärtner, was the Polish equivalent of The Electric Prunes's Mass In F Minor, curiously merging separate sections of orchestrated sixties harmony pop, psychedelic raga rock and church organ sections. An uneven but historically interesting effort. Later albums are rumoured to be more adventurous.
|1||CZERWONE-CZARNI||1966||MUZA XL 0352|
|2||17.000.000||1967||MUZA XL 0458|
|3||MSZA BEATOWA "PAN PRZY JACIELEM MOIM"||1968||MUZA XL 0475|
|4||ZAKOCHANI SA SAMI NA SWIECIE||1968||PRONIT SXL 0491|
|5||BADZ DZIEWCZYNA MOICH MARZEN||1970||PRONIT SXL 0645|
|A1||MALOWANA LELA||1966||SYRENA REC., LPS-1004|
Their album (A Cry For Sun Over The World) contained easy-going music quite similar to early Niemen albums, ie. a pathetic cross between beat-pop, jazz and soul with occasional orchestration. The album sounds terribly dated today and should only appeal to the most nostalgic collectors.
|1||WOŁANIE O SŁOŃCE NAD ŚWIATEM||1971||MUZA SXL 0704|
Exodus were one of the few interesting bands to emerge in Poland after 1976, They played symphonic heavy progressive music, midway between Eloy and Genesis (ie. many synthesizers and a few electric guitars). Their best album was Supernova (1982).
Wladysław Komendarek later made solo albums of synthesizer music, while Paveł Birula emigrated to the USA.
|1||TEN NAJPIEKNIEJSZY DZIEN||1980||MUZA|
|2||SUPERNOVA||1982||MUZA SX 2108|
Marek Grechuta is a songwriter and vocalist with his own style, varying from the usual singer-songwriter material to more interesting melancholic folk songs accompanied by strings, even including exotic instrumental passages (influenced by East European and oriental folk music). The title track on Korowód might even be dubbed 'psychedelic', comprising an extended instrumental characterized by liberal use of wooden flute and echo effects.
Grechuta and Pawluśkiewicz played together at the 6th Student Festival in Krakow, in 1968. Anawa recorded their first EP the following year. Their 1973 album was recorded without Grechuta. although he rejoined for Szalona Lokomotywa.
|1||MAREK GRECHUTA ANAWA||1970||MUZA SXL 0601|
|2||KOROWÓD||1971||MUZA SXL 0752|
|3||ANAWA||1973||PRONIT SXL 1066|
|4||SZALONA LOKOMOTYWA||1977||PRONIT SX 1496|
|A1||DROGA ZA WIDNOKRES||1973||MUZA|
Homo Homini played rural pop-folk-rock without drums, sometimes with an uncanny resemblance to Mungo Jerry (!).
|1||HOMO HOMINI 1||1973||MUZA SXL 1003|
|2||HOMO HOMINI 2||1974||MUZA SX 1207|
|3||HOMO HOMINI 3||1975||MUZA SX 1343|
|4||HOMO HOMINI 4||1979||PRONIT SX 1789|
A short-lived group from Warsaw that recorded one EP and one LP. Mrowisko (1971) is an impressive, interconnected work crossing Vanilla Fudge and Deep Purple (first album) with Breakout. This is a remarkably mature album with nice organ and flute in addition to the predominant guitar. Mrowisko (The Hive) formed the musical backdrop to a ballet performance.
|1||MROWISKO||1970||MUZA SXL 0756|
Needless to say, this group played blues-rock and were probably the best of this genre from the whole Eastern bloc, which is why they are included here (despite recording in the 80's).
|1||KRZAK BLUES ROCK BAND||1980||PRONIT|
|3||KRZAK'I||1983 TONPRESS SX-T24|
|S1||NO 5 LIVE (1981-82)||1992||SILTON|
Laboratorium, from Krakow, was formed by Janusz Grzywacz in 1970 and gradually became one of the most popular Polish jazz-rock groups. Modern Pentathlon (1976) is an excellent album of this genre that shouldn't scare away fans of progressive rock. The title track is a 20 minute suite of five interconnected themes, containing spacey electric piano, blues-ridden electric guitar, a liberal sax, scat vocals and real busy jazz percussion. Some parts are vaguely similar to Weather Report (Zawinul's electric piano might have influenced Grzywacz), although Laboratorium are less repetitive and more experimental. Still the music doesn't lack sophistication. Later albums are also good, but don't surpass this.
|2||MODERN PENTATHLON||1976||MUZA SX 1418|
|3||DIVER||1978||HELOCON HR 1003|
|4||QUASIMODO||1979||MUZA SX 1784|
Comparable to Exodus, this group played fairly good, symphonic heavy rock, largely influenced by Black Sabbath, (a sober) Hawkwind, and Genesis, but with a slight new wave edge. Their sound might also be compared to several Hungarian groups of the period (Karthago, Piramis, Edda, etc.).
The Black & Blue (the English translation of their name) was formed in 1961 by Franticzek Walicki, although he had disappeared by the time of their first album. From 1962 to 1966 Czesław Niemen was their principal vocalist and songwriter, a period filled with blues and jazz-influenced pop hits (perhaps similar to early Manfred Mann) and live performances in France, Sweden. Hungary and Yugoslavia. Four members left the group in 1965 to form Czerwony Gitary, but Niemen stayed for another year and was present on Niebiesko-Czarni's first album.
Twarze (1970) was probably their finest album (although I haven't heard all of them). Its 12 songs were a mixture of 60's pop, r&b, soul, jazz and even mild psychedelia. On the instrumental side, on offer is a wah-wah drenched organ and bluesy guitar statement in the style of Blackout (or even early Eric Clapton). The more soul-influenced numbers have multiple saxophones arranged in an old-fashioned way.
|1||NIEBESKO-CZARNI||1966||PRONIT XL 0331|
|2||ALARM||1967||PRONIT XL 0410|
|3||MAMY DLA WAS KWIATY||1968||PRONIT XL 0481|
|4||TWARZE||1970||PRONIT SXL 0560|
|5A||ROCK OPERA NAGA 1||1972||MUZA SXL 0881|
|5B||ROCK OPERA NAGA 2||1972||MUZA SXL 0882|
|6||OLD ROCK MEETING A. D. 1986||1986||POLJAZZ K-PSJ 013/1-5|
|7||25 LAT NIEBESKO-CZARNYCH - PRZEZYJMY TO JESZCZE RAZ||1987||MUZA SX 2616-17-18, 3 LP|
Czesław Niemen was born in 1939 in Wasiliszki in Belarussia. He studied for 4 years in Grodno. His first public appearances were as vocalist for Niebiesko-Czarni in the early 60's. After their first album he left to form his own group Akwarele in 1966. Their albums were variable, containing short jazz and blues-influenced songs, fronted by Niemen's soulful voice. He was strongly influenced by Ray Charles but soon developed his own characteristic vocal improvisations.
Niemen's next group Enigmatic was much more interesting, giving Jacek Mikuła almost free reign with his mighty Hammond organ excursions. The 20-minute track "I Am An Ungrateful Man" (on the double album) also contained long improvisations from the others and represented Niemen's closest rendezvous with heavy progressive jazz-rock. Niemen and his new backing group SBB (see separate entry) played during the opening of the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. Their two albums reverted to the soul jazz formula and were surprisingly dire.
In 1973 he was offered the vocalist spot in Blood, Sweat & Tears, an offer he declined.
Niemen was already a superstar in the Eastern bloc when he gained an international record contract with CBS. The most successful of his Western albums was Mourner's Rhapsody.
In 1974, Niemen again opted for more adventurous musical directions, experimenting with mellotron and Moog synthesizer in a jazz-rock setting. His latest backing group Aerolit helped out on an eponymous album in 1974 (one of Niemen's best efforts), while Katharsis (1975) was a solo effort largely consisting of electronic music. On this Niemen used his Moog's white noise generator for various percussive effects, resulting in a strange, but entertaining, hotchpotch of space funk jazz with added sound effects. Niemen's crowning achievement was certainly Idée Fixe (1978), an ambitious double album (plus bonus EP) illustrating his various talents in music ranging from pop, soul and jazz to spacy electronics and progressive rock. A truly unique artifact from a time long gone. The last album listed here, Postscriptum (1980), contained re-recordings of previously released material.
ALBUMS WITH AKWARELE:
|1||DZIWNY JEST TEN SWIAT||1967||MUZA XL 0411|
|2||AKWARELE SUKCES||1968||MUZA SX 0390|
|3||CZY MNIE JESZCZE PAMIETASZ||1968||MUZA XL 0516|
|4||ENIGMATIC||1970||MUZA SXL 0576|
|5||NIEMEN ENIGMATIC (2LP)||1971||MUZA SX 0710/0711|
|6||MUZYKA TELEWIZYJNA I TEATRALNA||1971||MUZA SXL 0831|
|7A||NIEMEN VOL I||1972||MUZA SXL 0895|
|7B||NIEMEN VOL II||1972||MUZA SXL 0896|
|8||STRANGE IS THIS WORLD||1972||CBS 64896|
|9||ODE TO VENUS||1973||CBS 65606|
|10||RUSSISCHE LIEDER||1973||CBS S 96 5707|
|11||MOURNER'S RHAPSODY||1974||CBS 80557|
|12||AEROLIT||1974||MUZA SX 1192|
|13||KATHARSIS||1975||MUZA SX 1262|
|14||IDÉE FIXE (2LP)||1978||MUZA SX 1570/1571|
|S1||BEST OF NIEMEN||1979||MUZA SX 1759|
|15||POSTSCRIPTUM||1980||MUZA SX 1876|
|A1||CZESŁAW NIEMEN||1969||SUPRAPHON 113 0890|
|A2||CZESŁAW NIEMEN||1972||AMIGA 855 309|
The group was formed in 1971 from remnants of the group Romuald & Roman (who released one single - the only genuinely psychedelic single from Poland).
The eponymous Nurt album is one of the best ever from Poland, taking a cue from the more adventurous tracks of Cream, Led Zeppelin and The Groundhogs. The sparkling fuzz guitar style is impressive throughout, but Nurt also used sitar, electric violin, electronics and even a small measure of folk-rock and jazz. Aleksander Mrożek later played with Recidive Blues Band in the 80's.
|1||NURT||1972||MUZA SXL 0944|
The group formed in Krakow in 1971. Their music was totally different to any other Polish group of the 70's - comprising peaceful (usually) and meditative instrumentais dominated by wooden flutes, lute, sitar and tablas. In some ways, the exotic material on Ossian (1975) was related to German-based artists such as Deuter, Between and Stephan Micus with a spiritual (some would say psychedelic) undercurrent.
Księga Chmur (1979) had only Tomasz Hołuj left from the first line-up. This second incarnation had an even broader vision, more or less similar to Third Ear Band, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and influences from African and Balinese music.
The two later albums released as "Osjan" arc in a similar style. Ossian undoubtedly inspired the 90's ethnic trance ensemble Atman (which is strongly recommended).
|1||OSSIAN||1975||MUZA SX 1279|
|2||KSIĘGA CHMUR||1979||MUZA SX 1777|
|4||RYTUAL DZIEKU I CISZY||1988||PRONIT|
Jósef Skrzek was for a very brief period the bass player of Breakout. After leaving them he formed the Silesian Blues Band in 1971 with Apostolis Antymos (born in Greece) and Jerzy Piotrowski. The group performed a few concerts in Poland and was eventually hired as the backing group of Czesław Niemen in 1972 (see separate entry). In between, Skrzek had been the bass player in Breakout for a very brief period.
The trio SBB then came together with a revised artistic vision in February 1974 (now an abridgement of Szukaj, Burz i Buduj, or Search, Breakup and Build). Their first album contained only two tracks recorded live in Warsaw. "Odlot" starts with a rather dull solo blues performance by Skrzek on piano and vocals (influenced by the vocal style of Niemen) but later on turns into an incredible improvisation with completely over-the-top fuzz bass noises threatening to kill off your amplifier! Antymos does his best to reply with some howling lead tones while Piotrowski provides some busy jazz drumming mixed up front. This is sheer joy! The flip side is less anarchic with some groovy moog and guitar interplay towards the end.
Nowy Horyzont (1974) was more compact with four interconnected pieces on side one. SBB probably did their best ever melodic improvisations here - a wealth of great electric guitar and moog interplay, sometimes with strange flanging effects. The soft piano, vocal and percussion parts of the 20-minute "Wolnosc Z Zami" would indicate SBB's future and more reflective direction. They now drifted towards soft, symphonic jazz-rock, inspired by Mahavishnu Orchestra's spiritual (though not oriental) aspects.
Pamięć (1975) contained only three tracks dominated by Skrzek's strong affection for the moog synthesizer. Some parts were early attempts at using synth bass lines (to the energetic, distinctive drumming of Piotrowski).
Ze Słowem Biegnę Do Ciebie represented their most symphonic work to date, containing only two tracks ranging from meditative solo keyboard parts to mighty symphonic jazz doodlings best described as a slow motion, somnambulistic cross between Mahavishnu Orchestra, Genesis and Yes.
The DDR album, in contrast, was a collection of 11 short tracks, but it lacked sparkle and personality. The Czech Odejście album was better, with only two long tracks again.
Due to SBB's popularity in the Eastern bloc they finally gained a recording contract with Spiegelei Intercord in Germany and set off to record Follow My Dream in Hannover in November 1977. Parts of the album are re-recordings of themes from their third and fourth albums, but now submerged into two new long suites. The album serves well as an introduction to the group. Welcome (1979) relied less on jazz-rock and more on the British symphonic rock sound with more vocals and separated songs. Slovenian Girls (1979) was a remake of their Czech album. Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem (1980) was a worthy final statement with more substantial contributions from Antymos (electric guitar and bouzouki). Some even rate this as their best album. Skrzek has made several solo albums (including some of his movie soundtracks) and Apostolis later played in Krzak.
|1||I||1974||MUZA SXL 1142|
|2||II - NOWY HORYZONT||1975||MUZA SX 1206|
|3||PAMIĘĆ||1975||MUZA SX 1345|
|4||ZE SŁOWEM BIEGNĘ DO CIEBIE||1976||MUZA SX 1434|
|5||S B B (THE DDR ALBUM)||1977||AMIGA 8 55 631 (DDR)|
|6||S B B (ODEJSCIE)||1978||SUPRAPHON 1 13 2218 (CZ)|
|7||FOLLOW MY DREAM||1978||SPIEGELEI 160.611 (D)|
|8||WELCOME||1979||SPIEGELEI 145.600 (D)|
|9||SLOVENIAN GIRLS||1979||SPIEGELEI (D)|
|10||MEMENTO Z BANALNYM TRYPTYKIEM||1980||MUZA SX 1966|
|A1||PAMIETNIK KAROLINY||1978||PRONIT SLP 4003|
|A2||OJCIEC CHRZESTNY DOMINIKA||1980||MUZA|
|A4||WOJNA SWIATOW - NASTEPNE STU||198?||MUZA SX 2342|
This long lasting group was very famous and popular in Poland. Early albums were full of beat-oriented songs with strong vocal harmonies (almost a cross between Sgt. Pepper's... and The Turtles). Od Wschodu Do Zachodu Słońca and Ty contained mellow songs with early progressive elements, mainly due to the frequent use of organ (reminiscent of the first Wigwam-album, Procol Harum and Traffic).
Their masterpiece was Krywań Krywań (1972). The title track was one whole side of first rate progressive rock with classical overtones, comparable to Collegium Musicum and The Nice, but it also had a scorching electric violin solo. The remaining material was more easy-going but with strong melodies. Indispensable for collectors of Polish 70's rock. I haven't heard the later material but presumably it's veering towards harmony pop-rock.
|1||SKALDOWIE||1967||PRONIT XL 0370|
|2||WSZYSTKO Ml MOWI, ZE MNIE KTOS POKOCHAL||1968||PRONIT XL 0478|
|3||CAŁA JESTEŚ W SKOWRONKACH||1969||HUZA XL 0528|
|4||OD WSCHODU DO ZACHODU SŁOŃCA||1970||MUZA SXL 0597|
|5||TY||1970||MUZA SXL 0634|
|6||WSZYSTKIM ZAKOCHANYM||1972||MUZA SXL 0887|
|7||KRYWAŃ, KRYWAŃ||1972||MUZA SXL 0888|
|8||SZANUJMY WSPOMNIENIA||1976||MUZA SX 1411|
|9||STWORZENIA ŚWIATA CZĘŚĆ DRUGA||1976||MUZA SX 1412|
|10||REZERVAT MIŁOŚCI||1979||MUZA SX 1763|
|11||DROGA LUDZI||1979||PRONIT SX 1819|
|12||NIE DOMYKAJMY DRZWI||1989||MUZA SX 2757|
|.||SKALDOWIE, KRAKOW||1970||AMIGA 855 244|
|.||SKALDOWIE||1972||SUPRAPHON 0 13 1148|
|.||SKALDOWIE||1972||MELODIYA 33-D 033373|
Test formed after Dariusz Kozakiewicz left Breakout, leaving Blues (1971) as his only album with them. Test's music was less blues-based, being energetic hard-rock fronted by guitars. Their main source of inspiration was Ritchie Blackmore's vision of Deep Purple circa 1970-72. Test also played "Smoke On The Water" and Skin Alley's "Living In Sin" (the latter group had a Polish member) live on the national radio.
|1||TEST I WOJCIECH GĄSSOWSKI||1974||MUZA SX 1082|
A long lasting pop-rock group whose early albums were of some interest. Krajobrzy contained a mixture of harmony pop and beat music, comparable to Czerwone Gitary.
|1||KRAJOBRAZY||1968||PRONIT XL 04701|
|2||EJ, SOBOTKA, SOBOTKA||1969||PRONIT SXL 0530|
|3||KOCHANA||1970||PRONIT SXL 0637|
|4||ZAUFAJ SERCU||1971||PRONIT SXL 0782|
|5||BEDZIESZ TY||1973||PRONIT SXL 0992|
|6||TRUBADURZY ZNOWU RAZEM||1976||PRONIT SX 1299|
I will not comment on the albums of this supreme jazz violin player, merely list them for those who are interested. Among his fellow players were John Abercrombie, Marcus Miller, Larry Coryell and Wlodek Gulgowski.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||LIVE RECORDING||1971||MUZA SXL ?|
|2||IN CONCERT||1973||MUZA SXL ?|
|3||FUSION||1974||CBS 65744 (UK)|
|4||ATMA||1974||COLUMBIA PC 33184 (USA)|
|5||FUSION III||1975||COLUMBIA PC 33542 (USA)|
|6||PARATYPHUS B||1975||SPIEGELEI 28771 (D)|
|7||INACTIN'||1976||SPIEGELEI 28784 (D)|
|8||BODY ENGLISH||1976||ARISTA AL 4086 (USA)|
|9||TRIBUTE TO KOMEDA||1976||BASF 21657 (USA)|
|10||ECSTASY||1978||MARLIN 2221 (USA)|
|11||SERENADE FOR THE CITY||1980||MOTOWN M7944 (USA)|
|.||BEAT ORATORIO: "TO PEJZAŻ MOJEJ ZIEMI"||1972||MUZA SXL 0938|
|.||MINI PROPO POPOLUDNIA Z MLODOSCIA VOL. 1||1971||MUZA|
|.||NA SZKLE MALOVANE||1971||MUZA|
|.||POLSKIE TARGI ESTRADOWE - LODZ '75||1976||MUZA|
|.||TO PEJZAZ MOJEJ ZIEMI||1973||MUZA|
|.||ZAPRASZAMY DO TRÓJKI||1976||MUZA|