2007   NOVEMBER 13   #317

The Best Of Country Beat

In recent years i came across several pop records made in Czechoslovakia and none so surprising as this tribute to American Country and Western music. I was used to finding albums of classical music on the Surpaphon label (usually by Czech-born composer Dvorak) but this totally took me by surprise. It's a delight from start to finish.

There are three vocalists on the album. Ladislav Vodička, Nad'a Urbanková and Karel Kahovec, with backing vocals on some songs by the Lubomír Pánek Singers. Most tracks are covers of country standards but there are a few original numbers including the instrumental Express. As a bonus I have also included another instrumental track i found on a Supraphon single by Karel Duba, described as a 'Jamboree'.

The Best Of Country Beat
01 Nada Ubankova & Ladislav Vodicka - A Dear John Letter (2:03)
02 Ladislav Vodicka - My Banjo (Lies In A Dusty Case) (2:48)
03 Karel Kahovec - Open Up Your Heart (2:25)
04 Ladislav Vodicka - Ring Of Heart (2:32)
05 Karel Kahovec - The Tip Of My Fingers (2:34)
06 Nada Ubankova - Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad (2:13)
07 Ladislav Vodicka - Fireball Mail (2:09)
08 Jiri Brabec - Express (2:19)
09 Ladislav Vodicka - Silver Rails (2:36)
10 Nada Ubankova - Rock Me Back To Little Rock (2:19)
11 Ladislav Vodicka - Shane (4:41)
12 Karel Kahovec - Let The Sunshine On The People (2:33)
13 Karel Duba - Dostavnik (2:50)

What I find odd is that in the 1970s the Czech Republic was still under Communist rule and it's hard to know who this album was aimed at, especially as the lyrics are all in English. Also the albums includes a free fold-out wall poster of the band all done up in suede waistcoasts and stretch-pants and it's difficult to see how this would have been marketed. Posters suggest teeny bop fan but the songs on the album are surely aimed at an older market.

The whole concept of a country revue is perhaps bit old fashioned for 1972 but for all that is very good, and the only thing that lets it down is the singing. The fact that English wasn't the singers' first language shows and is most notable on the songs featuring Ladislav Vodicka, who is Czhechoslovakia's answer to Johnhny Cash. I actually think he sounds more like Benny Hill, especially on the track Shane.

The music is quite impressive with band leader/pianist Jiri Brabec displaying his prowess. Sadly i discovered that he took his own life in 2003.

- Contributed by: David Noades

Images: Cover, Singers, Poster

The Best Of Country Beat
Media: Album
Label: Supraphon
Catalogue: 1131139
Year: 1972
Credits: Arranged by Slava Kunst, Vaclav Machacek, Jiri Brabec. Produced by Slava Kunst.

Karel Duba - Dostavnik
Media: Single
Label: Supraphon
Catalogue: 013210
Year: 1970s