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Framus 5 - Blues In Soul (1968)

Framus 5 to kolejny ciekawy zespół zza naszej południowej granicy. Rozpoczął swoją działalność na początku lat sześćdziesiątych. Grupę prowadził bardzo dobry gitarzysta Michal Prokop. Grali bluesa z towarzyszeniem małej sekcji dętej.

Michal Prokop - Vocals & Guitar
Ivan Trnka - Piano & Organ
Ladislav Eliáš - Bassguitar
Petr Klarfeld - Drums
Jiří Burda - Tenor Sax
Ivan Umáčený - Trumpet

Michal Prokop is certainly my Mr. Soul (while the other two, Mr. Rock Jiří Schelinger and Mr. Blues Vladimír Mišík, will be featured on this blog very soon). Prokop, born 1946, co-founded the Framus Five in the early sixties. Initially they were devoted to the Mersey sound like the majority of other Czech beat groups but soon they added a horn section and switched to Memphis-oriented rhythm'n'blues. They performed at the famous 1st Czechoslovak Beat Festival 1967 in Prague where Prokop was (rightfully) declared the best singer of the event. They spent the following two years with successful touring all over the country and through Poland.

Hold On I'm Comin', a Hayes/Porter composition originally recorded by Sam & Dave for Stax, is the closing song from Framus Five's first album "Blues In Soul", recorded in the fall of 1968. Although you can hear applause at the beginning and at the end, this is only a pseudo-live "audience" which has been overdubbed to "glue" the album tracks together. Oh well, that gimmick used to be fashionable all around the world at that time. Nevertheless, the song steams like a locomotive engine on the loose, and, even in direct comparison to the certainly soulful S&D original, it is right about to explode. Hold on, baby, Michal Prokop sho 'nuff IS comin'!

Blues In Soul delivers exactly what its title promises. Originally released in 1969 as Framus Five + Michal Prokop, it contains ten R&B and soul covers like Got My Mojo Working, I Believe To My Soul, What'd I Say or Chuck Berry's funked up Around And Around - as well as Prokop's instrumental title track. This is your ultimate Czech R&B long play album because it is in fact, besides Flamingo's first LP (a.k.a. This Is Our Soul), the only one. Unfortunately, in 1971 when this stereo export reissue was finally released, the Framus Five were already history. Besides Prokop who also used to play the lead guitar, the original members were Ivan Trnka on keyboards, Ladislav Eliáš on bass, Petr Klárfeld on drums, Ivan Umáčený on trumpet and saxophonist Jiří Burda who also wrote the arrangements.

Later known as Michal Prokop & Framus 5, the group gave up the horn section and - most likely involuntarily - the English lyrics and for most parts also the "pure" soul. After recording another single as a quartet, in 1970 they were joined by the blues guitarist Luboš Andršt. Soon they began to work with the young producer Hynek Žalčík and poet Josef Kainar on their next album Město Er (A Town Called R). However, the band already broke up in the middle of the production, mostly due to elementary problems like "how do I manage to feed my family while being a musician"; remember, the "normalization" of the real-socialistic society has just begun and rock music was among the first sectors to be "normalized". But despite a few "fillers" on the b-side, Město Er, released in late 1971, remains one of the undisputed masterpieces in Czechoslovak rock history, thanks to the monumental 19 minutes title track where a prog-rock group meets blues poetry and a jazz big band.

Prokop spent most of the 1970s as a background singer with various Czech mainstream pop artists and in the ensemble of the renown Semafor theatre. At least, his superfunky Czech version of Edwin Starr's War (Nač nám je válka) was captured in 1975 on an obscure "socialistic" anti-war compilation Slunci vstříc (Facing The Sun), making it probably the only Norman Whitfield song that has ever been recorded by a Czech artist. (Hm, I guess that's definitely worth a separate Funky Czech-In post...) In 1978 he revived the Framus 5 trademark and recorded a rather puzzling disco-rock-soul LP Holubí dante (Pigeon's Dante) in 1980. But his best work was yet to come: the "free trilogy" albums Kolej Yesterday (College Yesterday, 1984), Nic ve zlým nic v dobrým (Nothing For Bad Nothing For Good, 1987) and Snad nám naše děti prominou (Perhaps Our Children Will Forgive Us, 1989) all belong to the best Czech rock records of the decade. (You can trust me because generally I consider myself an "eighties hater".) (from Funk Czech-In Blog).

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3 komentarze:

ankh pisze...


Anonimowy pisze...

Dużo słyszałem [dobrego] o płycie "Mesto er", m.in. o świetnej grze Andrsta [później jednego z czołowych gitarzystów jazzowych w Czechach]. Może ktoś ma link do tej płyty. Sciągnąłem ją z Rapida, niestety zaszyfrowaną i nie mogę otworzyć.

Esmenard Victor pisze...

I've discovered your blog and wanna thank you for this very good album. And I loved Polanie too, and the Seeds, and some other things too ;)

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