Category Archives: Poland

Kawalerowie

Kawalerowie Muza EP 0437
Kawalerowie’s second EP sleeve, with a design identical to Chochoły’s “Naście lat” EP

This is the third of Pete Kowalski’s articles on ’60s rock groups from Poland. Previously he wrote about Romuald i Roman and Chochoły.

Kawalerowie Pronit EP 0426 side A
Kawalerowie’s first EP

Founded in 1964 in Warsaw, Kawalerowie (The Bachelors) were active only for two years before disbanding in late 1966. The band was composed of four members, all in their twenties:

Jerzy Szczęśniak – guitar, vocals
Piotr Raczew – guitar
Marek Zarzycki – bass, vocals
Marek Rosiński – drums

Despite their fleeting activity, Kawalerowie managed to release a total of fourteen tracks: three full EPs and two songs issued on a 1967 compilation LP “1000 taktów młodości” (“1000 Bars of Youth”). Compared to other mid-1960s Polish beat groups that were lucky enough to be given a chance to make a record, their style seemed to lean towards British rhythm’n’blues of the day with evident influences of groups such as The Animals and The Yardbirds. As far as musicianship is concerned, the band’s recordings represent a rather uneven level – apart from brilliant covers of “I Ain’t Got You”, “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter” and “Long Tall Shorty” with Polish lyrics, and “Nigdy już nie wołaj mnie” which is a great up-tempo track with a sharp scream introducing the guitar solo, there are some less brilliant numbers.

Kawalerowie Muza EP 0437 Side A
Kawalerowie’s second EP, this time on the Muza label

Of all the band’s releases, their second 45, accompanied by a sleeve which bears the same graphics as Chochoły’s “Naście lat” EP, is probably the most appealing one. It opens with “Palcie tylko sporty” (“Smoke Only Sports”) which is the aforementioned rendition of the 1964 Tommy Tucker classic with Polish lyrics which ironically advertise Sporty brand cigarettes, presenting them as a miraculous remedy for the blues. “Piosenka o dziewczynach” (“A Song About Girls”) starts with a wild bass riff but is regrettably compromised by snotty vocals. Side B features “Nigdy już nie wołaj mnie” (“Don’t Ever Call Me Again”) which may very well be among the best Polish garage rock tracks and “Kochaj mnie” (“Love Me”), another Kawalerowie take on an evergreen rhythm’n’blues tune – “The Night Time (Is the Right Time)”.

Kawalerowie Pronit EP 0457 side A
Kawalerowie’s third EP, which includes “Jeszcze nie wiem nic o tobie”
The rest of the band’s discography is weakened by low recording quality and poor mastering which take away the youthful, vehement energy, so important in this musical genre. Of the tracks on the group’s EPs issued on the Pronit label, three seem to stand out: “Ej, stary” (“Hey, Fella”) which is the previously mentioned cover of “Ain’t Got You”, mistakenly credited to The Yardbairds (sic) on the record label, “Małgorzato, jeśli chcesz” (“If You Want It, Margaret”), a slower love song based on a catchy hummed tune and “Jeszcze nie wiem nic o tobie” (“I Don’t Know Anything About You Yet”) with a simple riff reminiscent of some of the Spencer Davis Group numbers.

1000 taktów młodości Pronit LP XL0370
1967 compilation LP “1000 taktów młodości” (“1000 Bars of Youth”)
The two songs exclusively released on the “1000 taktów młodości” compilation are sung by Wiesław Czerwiński (ex-Chochoły) and his wife Sława with Kawalerowie providing the instrumental backing.

Like the majority of Polish beat groups of the time, Kawalerowie recorded much more material than was officially released in the communist times. The complete Kawalerowie recordings are available on a CD compilation “Kawalerowie – gwiazdy polskiego big beatu” issued by Polskie Nagrania. “Od dzisiaj znów zacznijmy marzyć” (“From This Day On, Let’s Start Dreaming Again”, “I’m a Love Not a Fighter” cover) is available on vinyl compilation Working Class Devils vol. 2, released on Beat Road Records.

Kawalerowie discography:

Pronit N0426: “To ty w moim mieście” (“It’s You in My Town”) / “Ej, stary” (“Hey, Fella”) / “Małgorzato, jeśli chcesz” (“If You Want It, Margaret”) / “Nie wiem gdzie cię szukać” (“I Don’t Know Where to Look For You”)

Muza N0437: “Palcie tylko Sporty” (“Smoke Only Sports”) / “Piosenka o dziewczynach” (“A Song About Girls”) / “Nigdy już nie wołaj mnie” (“Don’t Ever Call Me Again”) / “Kochaj mnie” (“Love Me”)

Pronit N0457: “Jeszcze nie wiem nic o tobie” (“I Don’t Know Anything About You Yet”) / “Ja wiem co to znaczy” (“I Know What It Means”) / “Słońce w dłoni” (“The Sun in Hand”) / “Czemu chodzisz z głową w niebie” (“Why Do You Go With Your Head In the Clouds”)

Pronit XL0370: “Uderzaj w mig” (“Strike Fast”) / “Kiedy dziewczyna mówi nie” (“When a Girl Says No”)

Kawalerowie Pronit EP 0457
sleeve for Kawalerowie’s third EP

Chochoły

Chochoły Veriton EP front cover

This is the second of Pete Kowalski’s articles on ’60s rock groups from Poland. In February, he wrote about Romuald i Roman:

Chochoły (The Straw Men) were one of the most noteworthy Polish amateur rock groups, founded in Warsaw in 1962. The initial lineup featured: Jan Goethel (guitar), Bogusław Poniatowski (guitar), Mieczysław Salecki (guitar) and Tomasz Butowtt (drums).

The early period of the band’s activity was packed with frequent lineup changes. Notably, Jan Goethel left Chochoły in late 1963 to form another beat group that merits a listen: Dzikusy.

Initially the band performed cover versions of popular instrumental rock and roll tunes including the works of The Shadows and The Ventures who were rather well known by the Polish teenage audience thanks to the omnipresent waves of Radio Luxembourg.

Chochoły Veriton EP side AHaving gained some recognition and applause, the band participated in the second National Song Contest held in Opole ever since 1963, representing the Veriton record plant (owned by the Polish Catholic Association “PAX”) and backing a group of young pop singers, none of whom had much success. This, however, allowed Chochoły to release their first 7” EP (the most common pop record format in 1960s Poland) with songs from the festival.

1965 would see the band working as session musicians on several pop, easy listening, gypsy records that are simply uninteresting with the music being often compromised by artless vocals, doltish lyrics and unconvincing arrangements. Apart from their studio work, the band still played numerous dance gigs filled with energetic yet primitive guitar music.

Chochoły’s live nature, so different from what was heard on their past recordings, was captured in the 1965 movie “Sam pośród miasta” (“Alone in the City”) starring Zbigniew Cybulski (often called the Polish James Dean). The film’s entire dance club scene, backed with a simple, repeating guitar riff played by the group on their cheaply made (by western standards) and hard-earned instruments is available on YouTube and worth watching as it gives an idea of how would a typical youngster rock and roll dance party look like in mid-1960s communist Poland.

Chochoły Muza EP front cover

Chochoły Muza EP side AThe breakthrough came in 1966, as far as Polish garage rock history is concerned. Polskie Nagrania (the biggest and in fact the only record company in Poland in the 1960s) decided to issue a series of 7” EPs with uncensored recordings of several most important amateur rock bands including Chochoły, Kawalerowie and Pięć Linii. Until then, Polskie Nagrania relegated groups who were possibly deemed unprofessional, or their music not serious enough for the major Muza label, to the Veriton label. Veriton records were low quality pressings, made in small numbers from contaminated vinyl with old machinery.

Chochoły issued their two best and most notable extended-plays in May 1966:

Pronit N-0410: “Kocham ją” (“I Love Her”)/ “Zaimki” (“Pronouns”) / “Nowa gra” (“New Game”)/ “Uwierz mi” (“Believe Me”) – issued in a generic company sleeve

Muza N-0411: “Naście lat” (“Teenage”) / “Szpilki” (“High Heels”) / “Amor a kysz” (“Get Lost, Cupid”)/ “Nadążyć chcę” (“I Want to Keep Up”) – issued in a semi-dedicated sleeve bearing the name of the group and a song list

Chochoły Pronit EP side AThe recordings were probably taped during a single session and are among the best examples of Polish garage rock. Packed with rocking organ riffs, stomping rhythm and exuberant solos, those 7-inchers are a must-have or at least a must-listen for anybody interested in teenage garage rock from behind the Iron Curtain.

The lyrics of two of these songs (“Szpilki” and “Amor a kysz”) contain what would probably be unthinkable in most of the Western world of the era: the word “sex” which in Polish has only one meaning and it’s not “gender”. Add to that the “frivolous” music and you have material whose 1966 release seems improbable to a Polish listener 50 years later. There’s not a single weak number on these records though “Nadążyć chcę” definitely steps out with its guitar riff borrowed from The Kinks’ “I Need You” and “Naście lat” features great organ licks and a vigorous rave-up solo.

Several months after releasing the two extended-plays, Chochoły broke up and their last lineup: Tomasz Jaśkiewicz (guitar), Marian Zimiński (organ), Paweł Brodowski (bass) and Tomasz Butowtt (drums) went on to found Akwarele – Czesław Niemen’s backing band active between 1966 and 1969.

Most of Chochoły recordings are available on a CD compilation “Gwiazdy polskiego big beatu: Chochoły” released on Polskie Nagrania Muza, catalogue number PNCD 1467. Two of songs that originally appeared on Muza N-0411 EP are available on a highly recommendable vinyl compilation “Warszawski rock and roll lat 60.” released on Polskie Nagrania Muza, catalogue number SX 4009. There’s also a CD version (PNCD 1262) that contains four bonus tracks.

Chochoły Veriton EP back cover

Romuald i Roman

Romuald i Roman Muza Polskie Nagrania EP
Romuald i Roman’s only EP

Pete Kowalski,  a new contributor, is beginning a series on some very rare ’60s rock records from Poland, starting with Romuald i Roman:

Romuald i Roman PosterRomuald & Roman, one of the most interesting Polish bands active in the 1960s was founded in Wrocław, Poland in the spring of 1968 with the following lineup:

Romuald Piasecki – guitar, vocals
Roman Runowicz – guitar, vocals
Jacek Baron – bass, vocals
Andrzej Tylec – drums, vocals

After a few months of concert activity, Jacek Baron was replaced by Leszek Muth. Core members of the band were Romuald Piasecki and Roman Runowicz, hence the band’s name.

Romuald i Roman Muza Polskie Nagrania 45 Pytanie Czy HasłoRomuald & Roman were one of the first Polish groups whose music could be easily called “psychedelic” (a notable mention goes to ELAR-5, their 1967 recording “Moloch” is vastly reminiscent of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, with intense guitar feedback and fuzz) and they were the first avant-garde rock band in communist Poland to release a record which was only possible through state-owned and state-controlled record company Polskie Nagrania. Their shows often incorporated innovative, psychedelic light shows, at the time unheard of on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

Romuald i Roman Muza Polskie Nagrania 45 CzłowiekTheir officially released discography is rather modest but as with many Polish groups, the amount of what was released on records is notwithstanding the number of actual recordings, often committed in local radio station studios. Romuald & Roman recorded about 2LPs worth of material, but only one EP and one song on a pop music compilation album was released:

Muza N0560 – “Pytanie czy hasło” / “Człowiek” (7” 45rpm extended play; 1969)
Muza XL0623 – Przeboje Non-Stop – side B, track 2: “Bobas” (12” LP compilation album, 1970)

The aforementioned 45 is among the rarest and the most wanted Polish beat records. Both sides are deeply psychedelic, with hypnotic, hallucinatory “Pytanie czy hasło” (“Question or Password”) being especially recommended to any collector interested in 1960s rock music from behind the Iron Curtain. “Człowiek” (“Man”) is more upbeat yet full of broken rhythmic patterns, strange sound effects and assorted psychedelia.

“Bobas” (“Tot”) is probably their best-known song, starting with a loud fuzzed-out feedback and bizarre screams. The lyrics are witty, showing a tot’s point of view mixed with philosophical reflections: “No, I don’t want to grow so old to have to swear all the time”.

Other songs by Romuald & Roman include: “Stał ten dom” (“There Used to Be a House”; an anti-war protest song), “Towarowy Rusza do Indii” (their most psychedelic recording, with a running time of nearly 10 minutes, the abbreviation of the title: TRI is the name of a solvent frequently used by Polish hippies to get high – the title is a Polish counterpart to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds)”, “A ja nigdy i basta” (“I Will Never Get Married, Period”).

The band didn’t get much promotion in the media, which was more interested in less subversive music (psych pop renditions of soldier songs, for instance). After 1971, the band would often go through line-up changes, repeatedly suspending activity. No further recordings were released in the 1970s. Most of Romuald & Roman’s recorded material is available on 2CD compilation released by Polskie Radio.

Romuald i Roman Muza Polskie Nagrania EP back

The London Beats

The London Beats in Poland March 65
London Beats in Poland, 1965. Left to right: John Carroll, Jimmy Smith, Peter Carney and Mick Tucker

The London Beats were the first Western rock band to tour behind the Iron Curtain, releasing an ultra-rare LP in Poland and three Polish-only EPs.

Significantly, its members also went on to such notable bands as Geno Washington’s Ram Jam Band, Fortes Mentum, Hamilton & The Hamilton Movement, The Flower Pot Men, The Nashville Teens, Aquila, Cressida and Tranquility.

Moonriders, left to right: Mick Godfrey, Simon Coaffee, Tony Terry, Mick Tucker and Terry Jones
Moonriders, left to right: Mick Godfrey, Simon Coaffee, Tony Terry, Mick Tucker and Tony Jones

Lead guitarist/singer Mick Tucker, rhythm guitarist/singer Tony Terry and bass player Simon Coaffee (aka Sam Clifton) first came together in Horley, Surrey outfit, The Moonriders, in early 1963, alongside singer Tony Jones and drummer Mick Godfrey. Not long after, the band changed name to The Pete Chester Combo after Chester took over the drum stool.

“For a while [Pete] became the band leader, because to us he was nationally famous,” explains Tucker. “His dad was a big radio star. Charlie Chester was a household name in the 1960s.”

Tony Jones, however, didn’t stay long and Mick Tucker poached lead singer Frank Bennett from local rivals, The Rockatones. Paired with producer Mickie Most, who introduced South African singer Jackie Frisco (later Gene Vincent’s wife) and his brother Dave Hayes as guest singers, The Pete Chester Combo recorded “Love Comes Only Once”, which was subsequently shelved.

Pete Chester Combo 1963
Pete Chester Combo, 1963. Left to right: Tony Jones, Mick Tucker, Simon Coaffee, Pete Chester and Tony Terry

When Pete Chester retired that autumn, original sticks man Mick Godfrey briefly re-joined, just in time for an aborted six-day tour of Israel.

Reverting to The Moonriders, the quintet cut a private demo disc comprising five songs – “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Every Day”, “Love Potion No 9”, “Memphis Tennessee” and “Talk About You”, and this landed the band a contract with Johnnie Jones’s London City Agency. The agent suggested a new name.

“The London Beats was his [Johnnie Jones’s] idea, particularly in Europe because it said where we were from and what sort of music we played,” explains Tucker.

London Beats, early 1964, left to right: Mick Tucker, Tony Terry, Frank Bennett, Jimmy Smith, Simon Coaffee
London Beats, early 1964, left to right: Mick Tucker, Tony Terry, Frank Bennett, Jimmy Smith, Simon Coaffee

Jones arranged a six-month deal with a promoter in West Germany, kicking off in January 1964, but Mick Godfrey bailed. Shuffling the pack, Frank Bennett recommended drummer Jimmy Smith from Lewes band, The Shades.

“Frank used to turn up to quite a few late ’63 gigs; he’d come up on stage and do a few numbers with us,” says Smith. “I remember being really impressed by his R&B voice.”

The London Beats in Germany during 1964Departing for Frankfurt in March 1964, The London Beats worked the German club scene and American bases until mid-December, by which point Tony Terry had returned home (later forming The Pack).

In London, Mickie Most played the musicians a pre-release master tape of The Animals’ “House of The Rising Sun”. “We knew straight away that it would be a hit record,” remembers Coaffee.

That December, the quartet also recorded a cover of Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds” with producer Terry Kennedy, possibly credited as Bennett Tucker.

The London Beats based in Germany 1964According to Tucker, Kennedy was putting the final touches to ‘Funny How Love Can Be’ by The Ivy League, and ‘Catch The Wind’ by Donovan,” around the same time. He hired Simon Coaffee to play bass on The Ivy League’s “Tossin’ and Turnin’”.

Then, in January 1965, it was back to Germany for two months to play at the Funny Crow and Top Ten in Hamburg, the latter alongside Howie Casey’s band, Beryl Marsden and Paddy, Klaus & Gibson.

“We did some recordings at the Top Ten, which became a studio during the day,” remembers Tucker.

“Frank Bennett and I did some backing vocals for Isabelle Bond, the resident singer at the Top Ten club – German versions of ‘Bread and Butter’ and also ‘Downtown’. Klaus [Voorman] was also one of the backing singers.”

Back home, Jones offered them a three-month contract in Poland as part of a musician union exchange with the Polish Modern Jazz Quartet. However, Frank Bennett and Simon Coaffee weren’t interested.

“The Polish national agency wanted us because they’d heard through a third party at some trade fair in Poznan in Poland that we were making shed loads of money for our manager in Germany and so the Poles thought we’d like to get in on this,” explains Tucker. “They asked specifically for us even though they’d never heard of us.”

“My father wouldn’t let me go,” explains Bennett on his decision to bail out. “You couldn’t bring the money out, which was a problem. That was the reason. Also, I went back to Germany and joined The Statesmen, an American five-piece harmony band.”

London Beats fivepiece in 1964In 1967, Bennett joined Fortes Mentum. The band later released three singles for Parlophone and enough material for an album, which has recently been issued on a CD with Pussy.

Keen to see behind the Iron Curtain, Tucker and Smith recruited an organist and bass player who would join them alongside a female vocalist, a specification in the Polish contract.

Through Melody Maker, they hired Hammond organist John Carroll, who recommended his band mate from Ealing group, The Flexmen – bass player Peter Carney.

Later on, Johnny Jones also recruited a female vocalist – Birmingham-based club singer Linda Crabtree (Linda Fortune) as a solo artist with her own contract.

The musicians headed to Poland in March 1965 and soon after recorded an ultra-rare LP for the Polskie Nagrania Muza label in a church hall in Wroclaw.

“The record company had trucked in a twin-track mobile studio from Warsaw because our itinerary was full and they didn’t want to wait,” says Smith.

“The equipment was pretty old and they didn’t seem to have any experience of recording rock/pop music, resulting in the sound quality and balance leaving a lot to be desired.”

Something of a collector’s item, the album features a fascinating choice of covers, including Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me”, Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby” and Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Walk On By”.

The London Beats in Poland, 1965. Left to right: John Carroll, Jimmy Smith, Peter Carney and Mick Tucker
The London Beats in Poland, 1965. Left to right: John Carroll, Jimmy Smith, Peter Carney and Mick Tucker

With the initial contract nearing its end, Pagart (the Polish agency) offered to extend the group’s stay.

“We negotiated our own contract with the Polish authorities because we were fed up with the London City Agency, which had done nothing really to help us,” confesses Tucker.

“In the whole three months we were there [initially] we didn’t hear from them once. We were a bit pissed off with that, so we negotiated the next thing, which is why the name slightly changed to The Original London Beat. That was just for legal reasons.”

Left to right: John Carroll, Peter Carney and Mick Tucker
Left to right: John Carroll, Peter Carney and Mick Tucker

The quartet returned to Poland in late June but after about two months, John Carroll and Pete Carney returned to home, both joining Tony Knight’s Chessmen.

Carney would subsequently become a long-standing member of Geno Washington’s Ram Jam Band while Carroll would hook up with Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers and later join The Flowerpot Men.

Also back in the UK, Mick Tucker recruited bass player Kevin McCarthy from Tolworth, Surrey outfits The Trends (later The 4 Degrees) and The Peasants, and Australian rhythm guitarist Tony Stanton.

“Mick Tucker contacted me, came over and told me about The London Beats,” remembers McCarthy. “I played him a recording of the 4 Degrees, which must have been good enough for him to consider me for the job. We got together at his house in Horley to rehearse, where I met the new singer Sterry Moore.”

New line up. Left to right: Mick Tucker, Frank Stanton, Kevin McCarthy and Jimmy Smith
New line up. Left to right: Mick Tucker, Tony Stanton, Kevin McCarthy and Jimmy Smith

The female singer (no relation to actor Roger Moore) was brought in to take over from Linda Crabtree on both the recording and touring front. However, as McCarthy points out, Tucker’s decision to bring in another guitarist was a last minute decision.

“He found [a keyboardist] in Melody Maker and we went to meet him. He had a brand new Vox Continental organ and he could really play it. This was Eddie Hardin, who later joined Spencer Davis. Alas, he did not want to go to Poland with The London Beats for six months.”

On 25 October 1965, the musicians flew to Warsaw where they were reunited with Jimmy Smith.

“We began rehearsals and the agency organised photos and posters,” continues McCarthy. “They took our names straight off our passports and printed them on the posters…

“Mick was a tall guy, well-built with very long hair. I’m 5 ‘2” and was still suffering from a butchered haircut I’d gotten for The Peasants so we must have looked very strange together. However, we were treated like VIPs.”

That winter, the reconfigured line up recorded 12 tracks on four-track at Polskie Nagrania Muza’s studio in Warsaw Old Town, which were released over the next six months over three EPs. In recording terms and quality they were far superior to the earlier recordings.

With singer Sterry Moore
With singer Sterry Moore

The first EP, entitled The Original London Beat, and featuring Mick Tucker on all lead vocals, came out in late 1965 and comprised the tracks, “Walking The Dog”, “Wanna Walk In The Sunshine”, “Hang on Sloopy” and Scarlet Ribbons”.

This was followed in early 1966 by I’ll Go Crazy, which featured Mick Tucker on lead vocals on two tracks – “I’ll Go Crazy” and “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” and Polish singer Mira Kubansinka on the remaining tracks, “Walking In The Sand” and “You’re No Good”.

The final EP, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, also released in 1966, featured Sterry Moore on lead vocals on all four tracks – “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “I Had a Talk With My Man”, “The Biggest Players” and “Won’t Be Long”.

London Beats Poland late 1965
Joined by Mira Kubansinka (third left)

Joined by Mira Kubansinka for a nationwide tour, the musicians traversed the country in a bus, right in the dead of winter.

“Snow was often piled high on the side of the road,” remembers McCarthy. “In the country, there were horse-drawn carts everywhere and people working very hard to survive. Cities were stark, cold and old-fashioned with foreboding-looking statues and shrapnel damage still visible on the walls of buildings leftover from the war.”

McCarthy adds that while The London Beats were touring in Poland, other UK groups like The Hollies and Lulu & The Luvvers started arriving.

However, with the extended contract coming to an end in late January 1966, and the opportunities to work in Poland exhausted, the musicians lost interest.

On 15 March 1966, most of the band flew to London. No longer celebrities the musicians had to start from scratch.

“I was fed up with living out of a suitcase by then and we had no feeling of going forward,” admits Tucker.

“We’d been for want of a better word, big stars in Poland and wherever else we’d play from there on, we’d have to work from the bottom up again. After five or six years at it, I thought I’d quit and have some happy memories.”

Tony Terry and Mick Tucker
Tony Terry and Mick Tucker

Tucker reunited with former member Tony Terry and worked the folk club circuit from 1967-1968.

The pair then set up a travel business driving mini buses all over Europe and North Africa. Tucker was offered the opportunity to return to Poland but declined.

Jimmy Smith, Sterry Moore and Kevin McCarthy formed Forovus with guitarist Ken Ali. Having started calling herself Mary McCarthy, Moore then recorded the single “People Like You” with singer Mickey Clarke, which was released on CBS in January 1967. She recorded two solo singles – “The Folk I Love” and “Happy Days and Lonely Nights”– that same year.

Jimmy Smith, who nearly joined The New Pirates (alongside John Carroll), replaced Phil Wainman in Hamilton & The Hamilton Movement. After a brief reunion with Carroll in Germany, a short spell with The Nashville Teens and The Fantastics, he recorded an album with Aquila in 1970.

Kevin McCarthy hooked up with R&B outfit, Ivan St Clair & System Soul Band, before landing on his feet: “Sometime in 1968 I answered an ad in Melody Maker and met John Heyworth and Angus Cullen; we would eventually become Cressida and record two albums for Vertigo with producer/manager Ossie Byrne.”

When Cressida split in November 1970, McCarthy joined Tranquility and appeared on two albums and some unreleased tracks before moving to Los Angeles in 1976. He has participated in several Cressida reunions and continues to play guitar and write songs.

“Interestingly, one of my songs recorded by another artist was ‘One Way Ticket’, which appeared on The Hollies’ Then, Now, Always, album released in 2010.”

London Beats Reunion 21 March 2015
The first reunion on 21 March 2015. Left to right: Mick Tucker, Simon Coaffee, Jimmy Smith and Tony Terry. Photo credit: Pam Terry

As for the original London Beats, Mick Tucker, Jimmy Smith, Simon Coaffee and Tony Terry reunited on 21 March this year with plans for a second reunion with Frank Bennett on 11 July.

Huge thanks to Mick Tucker, Jimmy Smith, Frank Bennett, Peter Carney, Simon Coaffee, John Carroll and Kevin McCarthy.

London Beats Germany poster

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Niemen I Akwarele

Vocalist and organ player Czeslaw Niemen was another huge star in Poland, so this record is hardly ‘garage’. Like the Skaldowie LP, there are great graphics on the cover, and Niemen’s outfit is classic Sonny Bono meets Carnaby St. His singing is also over the top, often trying to be James Brown-ish funky and Tom Jones-like soulful within the same line. I suspect he personified state-approved ‘rebellion’.

This LP is his second, from 1968. Of the songs I’ve chosen, I think “The Brazen Shout” (“Spizowy Krzyk”) may work best, though “Unwanted” definitely has a funky backing track and a familiar-sounding horn arrangement. “And If” uses the bass riff from Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”.

His band Akwarele (Watercolors) included Tomasz Jaśkiewicz (guitar), Paweł Brodowski (bass), Marian Zimiński (piano, organ) and Tomasz Butowtt (drums). He is supposed to have some other good singles and sides that I haven’t heard, like “Let’s Play Bo-Peep” (Baw Sie W Ciuciubabke).

Niemen continued recording into the late 1980s at least, and has since died. Dozens of videos await you on YouTube if you’re so inclined, including some cool live footage from ’67.

Skaldowie

Skaldowie Pronit LP

Skaldowie Pronit LP Side BStrictly oldies this time – from Poland. Though the cover of this one looks fairly psychedelic, most of the songs are light pop. Skaldowie were huge stars in the ’60s and ’70s and this LP was probably as common in Poland as the Raiders Spirit of ’67was here.

I used to find interesting LPs from Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia in Greenpoint and Astoria. I recently sorted through them looking for the best tracks and I’ll post a batch this month. As a general rule the covers are far cooler than the music, but there’s usually at least a couple good songs on each LP.

I’d like to find someone with the records and knowledge to cover the East European scene in some depth: not so much the big pop acts like this group but the underground or ‘garage’ scene – if there was an underground at all in 1965-66.

Skaldowie formed in 1965, headed by Andrzej Zielinski (keyboards and “spiew”) and his younger brother Jacek, also on vocals. Other members included Marek Jamrozy (guitar and vocals), Jerzy Tarsinski (guitar), Konrad Ratynski (bass and vocals), and Jan Budziaszek (drums). Leszek Moczulski was their lyricist.

After winning some contests they cut their first LP in 1967 and featured in a few movies – there are plenty of videos on YouTube for those who want to see and hear more. They even toured the US and Canada in August and September 1969, purchasing a Hammond organ and becoming more prog-rock.

The LP I’m featuring today was their second, Wszystko mi mówi, że mnie ktos pokochał, recorded in March, 1968, on the Pronit label. On this LP they have vocal help from the female cycling sextet Ali Babki, though only on some songs. The back cover gives some extended notes in English for some reason. Their name in English ‘The Skalds’ refers to an ancient group of Scandinavian poets, though English speakers are more likely to think of burn victims.

Some people rate this LP highly, but I only found a few tracks I cared for. “On the Hill Top” (Na Wirsycku) starts out like the Soviet Men’s Chorus but the howling at 1:24 has an eerie feel, followed with a good guitar solo.

Not surprisingly, one of the ‘originals’, “There’ll Be a Christmas Carol” (Bedzie Koleda) sounds very much like some Western hit, but I can’t remember exactly which song it reminds me of.

“The 26th Dream” (“Dwudzieste Szoste Marzenie”) also has some hooks reminiscent of other songs of the era, but is still an interesting composition.

Sources include: Progarchives.com

Skaldowie Pronit LP Back

Czerwone Gitary

Czerwone Gitary Muza LP (2)

I’ll be selling records at the WFMU record fair this Saturday, Oct. 23. Come out and say hello, booth D-24, in front of the large pillar in the middle of the room.

Unusual 45s and LPs, including a batch of Polish pop LPs from ’66-’68, including this one, Czerwone Guitary’s second album, which features a fine guitar and bass break on the melancholy “Cztery Pory Roku” (“Four Seasons”).