Category Archives: Czechoslovakia

The Soulmen

After leaving the Beatmen in 1967, Dežo Ursiny formed the Soulmen with Vlado Mally and Fedor Freso. The group didn’t stay together long, but in December they won the first beat festival competition in Prague, and recorded this excellent EP before splitting up in 1968.

“I Wish I Were” is my favorite track from their one EP, an original and exciting song with a great beat, vocals and a fine guitar solo. Their other songs, “Baby Do Not Cry”, “Wake Up!”, and “A Sample of Happiness” show a heavy influence by Cream, but are still well-crafted.

I’m sure there’s more information about them on the back of the EP sleeve, if someone can translate the essentials.

After the Soulmen, Ursiny started again with the New Soulmen, showing a change in his style towards progressive rock and jazz that would continue into the 70’s and 80’s. He died from cancer on May 2, 1995, in Bratislava.


Inside notes, click on image for larger image.

The Beatmen

The Beatmen were from Bratislava, which in 1965 was part of Czechoslovakia, but is now the capital of Slovakia. Original members were Marián Bednár (bass guitar), M. Bedrik, and P. Petro. Lead guitarist Stano Herko joined, but soon left to be replaced by Dežo Ursiny of the group Fontana, who sang and played harmonica as well as lead guitar.

In 1965 the Beatmen released two 45s almost simultaneously, becoming enormously popular in Czechoslovakia. Both records feature a Kinks-like r&b original on one side with a slower tempo song on the flip. All four songs are originals and sung in English, something bands in other East bloc countries probably couldn’t have gotten away with.

In 1966 they became the first one of the early East European beat groups to play in the West, with a concert in Munich, and even received a mention in Time magazine. After seeing them in Bratislava, Manfred Mann attempted to get the Beatmen on the bill of their upcoming UK shows, but the Beatmen were denied permission to tour.

The Beatmen emigrated to Western Germany, leaving Ursiny, who remained in Bratislava. With new guitarist Peter Eperješi, the band failed to find much success, and the Beatmen soon split up.

Ursiny formed the Soulmen in 1967, with Vlado Mally and Fedor Freso, releasing one excellent EP in ’68. Ursiny’s music went into a more jazzy and progressive direction after the Soulmen. He died from cancer on May 2, 1995, in Bratislava. After the Beatmen, bassist Marián Bednár joined the Braňo Hronec Orchestra for at least one single.

Thanks to Yag for the music and scans. Yag tells me that four tracks of the Beatmen from a radio performance also exist.

Beatmen 45 releases:

Supraphon 013842, 1965
Break It (D. Ursiny, P. Petro)
Let’s Make a Summer (D. Ursiny, P. Petro)

Supraphon 013843, 1965
Safely Arrived (M. Bedrik, P. Petro)
The Enchanted Lie (M. Bednar, M. Bedrik, P. Petro)

Olympic


Generic 60’s Supraphon 45 sleeve

Olympic were a hugely influential band in Czechoslovakia during the ’60s. If not as purely garage as the Matadors, their playing and songwriting were totally original.

The band at this point was band Petr Janda lead vocals, Ladislav Klein guitar, Miroslav Berka keyboards, Pavel Chrastina bass and Jan Antonín Pacák on drums, who just passed away this March.

They recorded dozens of singles, EPs and LPs during the ’60s and ’70s, this is the title song from their second album, “Pták Rosomák”, from 1969. Ptak Rosomak was written by Janda and Chrastina, and produced by J. Tuma.

Info for this post came from a great blog on Czech music Funky Czech-In, which has more info on Olympic.