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Skaldowie - Cała Jesteś W Skowronkach CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.76 | 28 ratings

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3 stars This album has nothing to do with progressive rock, showing Skaldowie at their most Beatlesque with occasional dabbles in art-rock. Half of the album's worth (literally 6 out of 11 tracks) is widely recognised as evergreens in Poland today, which is a direct result of its happy pop and pop-rock sheen and Andrzej Zieliński's superb songwriting. In fact, the melodies might be better here than those featured on the more classic albums, including "Od Wschodu do Zachodu Słońca", and "Krywań Krywań", but the arrangements leave a lot to be desired, and the sound is dated even for 1969 (but this is no wonder, as the Communist Poland was technologically years behind the West). Some tracks like Bas or Wieczór na Dworcu w Kansas City have nothing to do with rock music whatsoever, as the group obviously indulged themselves in the contemporary Polish festival-like pop, which did not help the songwriting and the performing potential they undeniably had.

Still, most of the album is more than enjoyable. Malowany Dym (A Painted Smoke), perfectly matching Polish highlanders' folklore with rock energy (Ratyński's bass is mixed surprisingly high) in the verses and featuring a splendidly harmonised subtle middle-eight, is easily the best out of the above-mentioned "hits" alongside the titular track, and a powerful kick-off. Króliczek (A Bunny), along with Medytacje Wiejskiego Listonosza (Meditations of a Village Postman), are in turn the best out of the pastiches. While they rely heavily on the carnival and rural tradition they respectively mock, the rocking element is still present in both. The former is more rewarding melodically, though slightly spoiled by tastelessly noisy trumpets in the verses (the producer's patent incompetence). Medytacje, while arguably less inspired, is saved by the fine musicianship and even manages a brilliant atonal crescendo featuring a passing-by train! Z Kopyta Kulig Rwie (A Galloping Sleigh Ride) and Prześliczna Wiolonczelistka (A Beautiful Cellist) still showcase impeccable songwriting (the latter's chorus is obviously nicked from The Beatles' It's Only Love), but are dangerously close to the contemporary pop banality.

The album's two most obscure tracks are surprisingly good. "Żeby coś się stało z nami" (Let Something Happen) has a moderately rocking drive but its real charm lies both in beautiful counter-melodies sprinkled all over the main tune and the lyrics in which a village schoolboy comforts himself with a list of possible disasters which would helpfully block his way to school the next day. Unlike the forced humour of Bas and Kansas, this one seems really amusing to me, being an unexpected gem among the heap of the band's clumsy lyrics. Dwadzieścia Minut Po Północy (Twenty Minutes after Midnight) is the album's most adventurous track, featuring a choir and a church organ. This should have been the main attraction of "Cała Jesteś w Skowronkach", but sadly in this very case the forgettable, Procol Harum-derivative tune does not quite follow the arrangement.

Which leads us to the best, titular song. Its literal translation, "You're Full of Larks" does not convey the idiomatic meaning of the expression which describes someone being over the moon. The words of this beautiful song (by Polish poet Leszek Aleksander Moczulski) play on the double meaning, and are among the group's best. This time both the melody and the performance are top-notch, especially in the verse full of unexpected twists. The chorus, while being more predictable (the song, after all, is among the evergreens!), is still a perfect example of the Zieliński brothers and Konrad Ratyński's three-part harmonising. The value of the song lies in a tasteful combination of art-rock and pop elements, which is what the record as a whole was probably about to achieve, and Cała Jesteś w Skowronkach (the song) is a fine starter to the progressive feast of "Krywań Krywań" and the like.

This is the last album by Skaldowie to feature two guitarists and no Hammonds, and it shows that the change was badly needed, as the obtrusively trebly guitar tone, without the keyboard backing, definitely downgrade the otherwise very good songs.

gero | 3/5 |


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