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Skaldowie - Skaldowie CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.76 | 20 ratings

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2 stars Much as Skaldowie are dear to me I have to admit that their debut album is a bit of a disaster.

Theoretically, it should be lauded as a somewhat ground-breaking, first Polish album with proto-prog(gish) elements. Recorded in 1966 and at the beginning of 1967, it obviously could not abound in proper progressive traits, but there is a definite hint of the future glory in the lush, truly Baroque arrangements, untrivial melodies and fine musicianship, betraying the classical training of the band members, and a fresh, original approach to music-making overstepping the established musical styles. One track is actually called Kochajcie Bacha, Dziewczęta (Girls, Why Don't You Love Bach?) and features a quote from the famous Air on a G String.

However, a few tracks are just pure pop (indeed, almost no rock involved in Jutro Odnajdę Ciebie and Nocne Tramwaje, apart from old-fashioned 1964-style guitar licks punctuating the rhythm), and honestly one or two are probably very hard to stand for an English speaking listener. Weź Mnie Ze Sobą (Take Me With You), for instance, is a comedy number drawing from a Polish variety show tradition, and the lead vocals are partly sung by actress Hanka Konieczna. Unlike on the later albums, composed solely of pianist Andrzej Zieliński-penned stuff with a couple of extras by bassist Konrad Zieliński, there are two songs from outside composers, slightly irrelevant.

The rest are solid songs with unexpected melody twists. Uciekaj Uciekaj (Run Away, Run Away) is the first in the long chain of Skaldowie's numbers overtly combining rock with Polish highlanders' folklore, to a delicious result. The same trick is used, albeit more covertly, in the closing Moja Czarownica (My Witch), which is a fine example of an early song by Zieliński displaying his talent fully fledged. Jarmark (A Fair) and Zabrońcie Kwitnąć Kwiatom (Forbid The Flowers to Grow) are the first in the long chain of songs perfectly matching imaginative lyrics by poet Leszek Aleksander Moczulski with elaborate and evocative melodies by Zieliński.

All these efforts are sadly irreparably damaged by the ugly flat production and inept engineering. This is probably the worst sounding studio release on this site, and the beginning of Skaldowie's battle with the baronets frequenting Polish recording studios. Speaking about artistic control in Communist Poland... Anyway, all the beauty of the songs is lost.

The best song on the album is so strong that even the worst engineer and the most poorly equipped studio could not kill it. The excuse for giving the album two stars is called Między Nami Morze (A Sea Dividing Us) and it boasts one of the most beautiful Zieliński melodies, arching over more than an octave, soaring above the sea, majestically performed by lead singer Jacek Zieliński, and cleverly harmonised. For me the track displays such a rare outpouring of the talent, a spark which could be found on the first Pink Floyd album, between Lennon and McCartney, and in the best songs by Roy Wood. Pure magic of songwriting.

As this song deserves five stars and the others one, two stars seems a fine compromise for an ugly produced album full of naive invention. A good thing to borrow for one listen, but who to borrow it from?

gero | 2/5 |


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