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CZESŁAW NIEMEN

Eclectic Prog • Poland


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CzesŁaw Niemen picture
CzesŁaw Niemen biography
Czesław Niemen (the real name is Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki) was born in Stare Wasiliszki (Old Vasilishki), a village in Byelorussia, Soviet Union, in 1939. In 1958 he has repatriated to Poland. His scenical name is a pseudonym taken after the name of the river Niemen. Debuted as a rock and soul singer in the early 1960's. He recorded "Dziwny jest ten świat" (Strange Is This World) as a major Polish protest song in 1967, and was an early pioneer of psychedelic music in communist Poland in the late 60's. He recorded three albums with the band Akwarele, as well as later works with Enigmatic, Grupa Niemen, and Aerolit. His first self-acclaimed progressive work was entitled "Enigmatic", and was released in 1969. The most notable song from it was "Bema pamięci żałobny - rapsod" (A Mournful Rhapsody, in memory of Jozef Bem, a Polish solider who served as a Polish Army general in the Polish War of Independence (November Uprising).

Like "Rhapsody", many of the other songs from "Enigmatic" were based Polish folk poetry. During his progressive period Niemen played keyboards extensively, including a Hammond, and later a mellotron and finally a Moog synthesizer.

In the early 70's Niemen recorded three albums for CBS International (Schaelplatten), including a 1974 release entitled Mourner's Rhapsody with Jan Hammer and Rick Laird of Mahavishnu Orchestra, electric violin and saxophonist Michal Urbaniak of Fusion, bassist the late Seldon Powell of the Buddy Rich Band, and session pianist the late Don Grolnick. The album featured a fifteen minute version of "A Mournful Rhapsody". In the latter 70's Niemen's musical work tended more toward jazz/fusion, and even electronica. He released seven additional albums and a retrospective collection before he passed of cancer in 2004.

Thanks to Bob (ClemofNazareth) for Biography.


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
His jazz/fusion work connects him with many other artists already featured on the archives, either as individual performers, or as members or session participants in works listed here (see some of these names above). In addition, his presence in the largely underground rock and psychedelic scene in communist Poland in the late 60's makes him by definition a progressive musician. The English-language albums Strange is This World, Ode to Venus, and particularly Mourner's Rhapsody and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Russian-lang...
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CZESŁAW NIEMEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CZESŁAW NIEMEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.55 | 40 ratings
Dziwny jest ten świat
1967
3.09 | 26 ratings
Sukces
1968
3.00 | 27 ratings
Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz
1968
4.04 | 125 ratings
Enigmatic
1969
3.95 | 63 ratings
Niemen (a.k.a. Red Niemen)
1971
4.19 | 77 ratings
Marionetki
1972
4.12 | 91 ratings
Strange Is This World
1972
3.76 | 54 ratings
Ode To Venus
1973
2.45 | 25 ratings
Russische Lieder
1974
4.23 | 115 ratings
Aerolit
1974
3.55 | 46 ratings
Mourner's Rhapsody
1974
3.61 | 52 ratings
Katharsis
1975
3.79 | 43 ratings
Idée Fixe
1977
3.29 | 31 ratings
Postscriptum
1980
3.22 | 9 ratings
Przeprowadzka
1982
3.33 | 18 ratings
Terra Deflorata
1989
2.33 | 15 ratings
Spodchmurykapelusza
2001

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.13 | 15 ratings
41 Potencjometrów Pana Jana
2007
4.14 | 7 ratings
Kattorna / Pamflet Na LudzkoŚĆ
2009
3.67 | 3 ratings
Terra Deflorata - Koncert (Official bootleg)
2010

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Niemen
1973
3.07 | 5 ratings
Best of Niemen
1978
3.50 | 2 ratings
Gwiazdy mocnego uderzenia
1991
4.25 | 4 ratings
Sen o Warszawie
1995
4.29 | 7 ratings
Od Początku I
2002
4.71 | 7 ratings
Od Początku II
2003
4.00 | 3 ratings
Zlota kolekcja
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Spiżowy krzyk
2008
2.14 | 2 ratings
Nasz Niemen
2009

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Jamais / Varsovie / Hey les filles / Peut-être
1966
3.00 | 1 ratings
Una luce mai accesa
1969
2.00 | 1 ratings
Io senza lei
1969

CZESŁAW NIEMEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Aerolit by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.23 | 115 ratings

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Aerolit
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I knew nothing of this man until he was added here but the bio says he moved from Russia to Poland when he was around 19 years old. He became a singer in Poland in the early sixties before becoming a pioneer in that country with his Psychedelic music in the latter half of the sixties. "Aerolit" is an incredible album filled with Czeslaw's emotive vocals and his amazing synth and mellotron work. Add to that a very talented drummer, upfront bass and electric piano and you have a classic. He sings in Polish and it's pretty cool that members of SBB were in his band prior to this album. Great album cover too apparently painted by his wife.

"Cztery Sciany Swiata" is the 10 1/2 minute opener and the longest track on here. Drums are joined by bass before the synths and a melody kick in. I'm not big on the melody and it will return a few more times during this song. The song pretty much stops after 1 1/2 minutes as drums then passionate vocals take over. Some nice bass too and it's fairly dark and brooding here. Mellotron 3 minutes in then it kicks in to an uptempo synth/ drum led section. Bass to the fore after 3 1/2 minutes as that melody returns from earlier. Man this changes often. Electric piano after 4 minutes with drums, synths and bass although the synths dominate the sound. I like this a lot. Guitar joins in replacing the synths but they will continue to trade off. There's that earlier melody again before it changes as the vocals and that dark sound return after 7 1/2 minutes. Mellotron too and man can this guy sing!

"Pielgrzym" opens with mournful synths as almost spoken vocals join in but they are rich and full of character. Percussion and bass join in around 5 minutes then the vocals stop as it continues to trip along. Vocals are back with about a minute left. Great track. "Kamyk" starts with electronics which sounds pretty cool as the drums shuffle. Mellotron follows then the synths start to growl as the vocals join in before 1 1/2 minutes. He's singing in a laid back manner here. The tempo picks up before 3 minutes as it turns jazzy. Then high pitched, bouncy synths start to dominate before giving way to some great sounding electric piano. It turns darker with deeper sounds before 5 minutes and the vocals return. Those bouncy synths are back after 6 minutes.

"Daj Mi Wstazkl Btekitna" features picked guitar, cymbals and sweeping mellotron to start as reserved vocals and a beat take over. Picked guitar and bass also help out as well. Mellow. The mellotron is back! Electric piano arrives when the vocals stop after 2 minutes. The vocals return around 3 minutes. "Smutny Ktos-I Biedny Nikt" hits the ground running and vocals join in quickly. When the vocals stop we get an impressive instrumental section, especially the electric piano and drums. Vocals are back but again when they stop the instrumental work just kills. It settles with electric piano and a beat before 5 minutes then the synths return late.

In my opinion this stands up very well with the best from 1974 and that's saying something.

 Enigmatic by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.04 | 125 ratings

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Enigmatic
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Enigmatic" is indeed enigmatic!

With progressive rock still not being fully developed as a genre in its homeland, the United Kingdom, Czesław Niemen in Poland was creating very innovative and advanced music. What's more, he was doing it behind the Iron Cutrain. Consider that Poland was than a poor country ruled by a communist regime of USSR and it was definitely no fun being a progressive musician at the time.

Niemen's musical extract consists of elements of Polish folk music fused with soul and jazz sensibilities. "Bema Pamięci Żałobny Rapsod" is a side-long epic, which applies these influences. It starts out driven by church-like organ, which brings some of Focus' later sounds to mind, and is supported by a pastoral choir and tubular bells. Then comes Niemen's deep voice, similar to that of Joe Cocker, and the piece completely changes its flow with Hammond organ being put into a more soul-inspired scenario. Later on, we encounter an incredibly emotional bluesy guitar solo. The lyrics are a musical interpretation of a rhapsody by a national 19th century Polish poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid. A piece is really moving and expressive in every part and is definitely the highlight of the album. Side two offers more jazz-oriented pieces with superb bass-lines, a competent horn section and Niemen's great voice.

"Enigmatic" is a highly ambitious work of a proficient and inspired musician. It's without a doubt one-of-a-kind work and will make a great addition to every progressive rock fan's collection. I have had a little bit of dilemma whether it deserves four or five stars. A five star rating might be a bit missleading, this album having a few minor flaws, that some might find more bothering than I. In the end, four stars are more adequate. Add another imaginary half-star to that. Recommended!

 Strange Is This World by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.12 | 91 ratings

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Strange Is This World
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars Czesław Niemen is a musician that always amazes me, everytime I hear a 'new' album. Not different with Strange Is The World (1972), his first album in English.

As a band Niemen had the guys that later would record by themselves under the name SBB. They were, indeed, the best band in Poland, no doubt about it.

He was one of the first guys in Poland to actually go further with his music, since the very beginning, and even being succesful he wasn't afraid to venture himself into strange lands. That's what Strange Is The World (1972) is.

Niemen's music is highly Progressive and Experimental with lots of organ and keyboards, very Prog. But what is interesting is how he was able to sing even love songs ('I've Been Loving You Too Long') or break up songs ('Why Did You Stop Loving Me') with such passio and 'progness'.

Now, the passion is something to talk about. You'll not find a better singer in the Prog world. His voice is strong and full of emotion, he sings with his heart.

Unfortunatelly Niemen passed away in 2004 in consequence of a cancer, but his music will live forever!

 Niemen (a.k.a. Red Niemen) by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 63 ratings

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Niemen (a.k.a. Red Niemen)
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars I discovered Czesław Niemen a little while ago when I came to live in Poland. Even if I am a music digger I never heard about this guy's music in the past.

So, I started with Enigmatic (1969) and discovered a powerful voice and a sound that reminded me of the old Deep Purple (mark I). I decided to keep listening his music.

Niemen (1971) - also known as Red Niemen - is a wonderful double album (back on the release date) that has many of the great Progressive Rock 70's sound. And it was ahead of his own time, cause was recorded on early 1971.

'Człowiek Jam Niewdzięczny' opens the album with its 20:32 and it's a delight to the ears.Czesław Niemen's voices never been so strong and his band is sharp as the best English bands.

With this album Niemen was ahead of his own time and it was just a small sign of what we would have with his next albums Strange Is This World (1972) with its 4 tracks and pretty much everything he did after that.

A must listen album if you're not a thick head when it comes to the language!

 Enigmatic by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.04 | 125 ratings

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Enigmatic
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Niemen might be striking a Vincent Price pose on the front cover, but there isn't very much of the Gothic or horrific about this four-track collection of organ-dominated progressive compositions. Drawing on the Polish folk music tradition for material and motifs that set this one apart from most organ-centric late 1960s proto-prog, and Niemen's arrangements also slip in a choir here and there to add a little gravitas to proceedings. Slow and stately for most of its running time, this isn't an album which offers up fast-paced Emersonian keyboard wizardry - rather, it aims for the Enigmatic tone its title suggests and more or less attains it.
 Strange Is This World by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.12 | 91 ratings

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Strange Is This World
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With a backing band including the members of SBB, Czesław Niemen's first English-language album is a wild trip through spacey, psychedelic territory. Nieman's vocal performance brings to mind the mighty lungs of old-time psychedelic greats like Arthur Brown, whilst the musical backing warps these songs - including the Otis Redding I've Been Loving You Too Long and the title track, which is a mutation of a track from significantly earlier in Nieman's career - into weird, not-quite-ambient atmospheric jams. The end result is a fascinatingly original collaboration between some of the great names of 70s-era Polish prog which will be of interest to all fans of the trippier end of prog.
 Marionetki by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.19 | 77 ratings

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Marionetki
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by João Paulo

4 stars This album shows a phase of improvisation and psychedelic rock made ​​in the seventies in Poland Psychedelic moments presents a chaotic context, which goes to other moments of pure rock We can hear some jazz improvisation in the context of fusion, mixed with moments ethnic backgrounds, which makes this multifaceted album difficult to appreciate in the first hearings. The lyrics are in Polish and I know your message but the voice is pleasant and is not the main component of this work It is a good time to appreciate jazz fusion and enjoy good times rock, but we have to get used to enjoy these more complex jobs that can only be properly assessed after several auditions. Another great Polish author of Progressive and compulsory for lovers of progressive rock in Eastern Europe, which is high quality and to discover these unique works 4 stars but 4,5 really
 Enigmatic by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.04 | 125 ratings

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Enigmatic
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by Diego I

4 stars Enigmatic, from polish Czeslaw Niemen, sounds like a good basic progressive album, where songs include all the basics: hammond organ, well executed guitar solos, dense and precise percussions, and depth high saxophone.

This "Enigmatic" is a healthy and beautiful fusion between elements of jazz and soul. Upon seeing the cover i expected something very dark and cryptic, and although the music is relatively, but does not fit at all, this isn´t bad, in contrast, shows that the simple cover is greatly exceeded by the music it offers, a great record, basic and simple, two things that the musicians know hardly integrated.

 Marionetki by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.19 | 77 ratings

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Marionetki
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by fluiddruid

4 stars This is the first Niemen album with the then SBB members. Psychedelic and blues components still here, with jazz and avantgarde elements." Marionetki" is a mournful ballad with church sounding organ and calm trumpet. "Piosenka Dla Zmarłej" starts with floating organ and continues with Niemen's soulful vocal and bluesy guitar of Anthimos. "Z Pierwszych Ważniejszych Odkryc"is a pure hendrixian psychedelic blues. Excellent ! "Ptaszek" is a filler with vocal , upright bass and laughing. "Com Uczynił": Niemen steps in the jazz territory: agressive hammond playing a'la Quatermass and soaring trumpet. Second vinyl begins the "Requiem Dla Van Gogha".This is a pure contemporary piece with reading role of the upright bass, prepared piano and space sounding organ, infuenced by John Cage. "Sariusz" is an another filler. The last "Inicjały" is very Miles Davis- In Silent way sounding, with Niemen's vocal acrobatic. This is very interesting, experimental album.
 Nasz Niemen by NIEMEN, CZESŁAW album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
2.14 | 2 ratings

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Nasz Niemen
CzesŁaw Niemen Eclectic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Newest to time (2010) cult Polish singer Czeslaw Niemen compilation includes 20 songs on 2 CDs. There are old ones and not so old, few most popular are included as well.

Niemen started as very first Polish jazz-rock singer (strongly influenced by soul and folklore though). His very early supporting band became later possibly most well-known Eastern European prog rock ever (S.B.B.). Niemen himself passed few stylistic periods during his musical career, and his early jazz-rock and symphonic prog works quite soon became more pop-oriented soul. I really like his earlier songs, and some of mid-period as well. He was not only a musician, but really a great artist.

Unhappily, this compilation was made with accent on his more accessible songs (even if few early great compositions are included as well). So - absolutely biggest part of this double album is pop-rock, pop-soul and some ballads. Niemen had unique voice, so even pop-songs sound quite original, but for prog fans this compilation generally is quite uninteresting release. Few early great songs you can find here were included on all possible previous compilations, and all other material is targeted for different kind of listener. So - even if you never heard Niemen's songs, this compilation is wrong place to start. Better find one of his studio album from late 60-s or early 70-s.

My rating is 2+.

Thanks to Snow Dog for the artist addition. and to Tuzvihar for the last updates

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