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The Plastic People Of The Universe - Hovězí Porážka (1984)

O niezwykle barwnej historii znakomitego czeskiego zespołu The Plastic People Of The Universe więcej można przeczytać tutaj . Teraz z kolei przyszła pora na zaprezentowanie dziewiątej pozycji w dyskografii tej formacji. Materiał na płytę ''Hovězí porážka'' zostal nagrany w drugiej połowie 1983 oraz na początku 1984 roku w mieszkaniach członków zespołu z zamiarem pózniejszego wydania go w Kanadzie. Do zrealizowania tego planu niestety jednak nie doszło i ostatecznie album ukazał sie dopiero w latach 90-tych. Muzyka tu zawarta to kontynuacja starego dobrego stylu Plastic People of the Universe z tekstami niepokornych czeskich autorów zaśpiewanymi oczywiście w ich języku ojczystym.

By the time the Plastics recorded the tracks for this album they were under pretty much constant surveillance and harassment by the communist police in Prague. The home where they recorded ‘Co znamená vésti koně’ had been burned to the ground by police, and longtime member saxophonist Vratislav Brabenec had been arrested and beaten enough times that he was forced to leave Czechoslovakia and resettle in Canada where he eventually found a new living as a gardener. He appears on only one track here (“Papírový hlavy”) but would resurface in the band’s 1997 return concert following the collapse of the Soviet Union although only on a couple songs in that show. Three of the songs on this album (“Šel pro krev”, “Kanárek” and “Špatná věc”) would be played during that show.

The thing I notice most about this album is the increased emphasis on atonal reed and horn sounds. Václav Stádník plays bass clarinet and flute and new member Petr Placák a variety of clarinets. The lower registers of the twin bass clarinets result in a rather depressing sound, and the overall mood of this record seems more resigned than the band’s previous works. The band also picked up a Korg somewhere, and keyboardist Josef Janíček plays it on most of the tracks here and on their next release ‘Půlnoční myš’.

Otherwise this appears to be more of the same by the band. The songs are all sung in Czech, something that Brabenec encouraged the band to do after he joined them in 1972. Prior to that they alternated between Czech and English, partly because of their many English-speaking influences (Zappa, Velvet Underground, the Fugs), and partly thanks to the brief period in which Canadian Paul Wilson was in the band in the early seventies.

The English translation of the album title means ‘slaughtered beef’ or something to that effect. One can only imagine what the band members were referring to considering the tribulations they had suffered at the hands of their oppressive government throughout the entire history of the group. The Berlin Wall was still a few years from falling, but the band themselves would call it a day following this and their next album, with some members going on to form Půlnoc and some of them reuniting in the late nineties.

This isn’t really a standout album from the band, but anything they’ve managed to commit to vinyl over the years is well worth a listen by progressive music fans and those whose blood boils at the thought of people having to suffer for the simple act of making music. Give it a spin if you get a chance, this is an important piece of musical history that you’ll certainly never hear on your local radio station.(progarchives)

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