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The Plastic People of the Universe - Kolejnice duní CD (album) cover


The Plastic People of the Universe



4.09 | 17 ratings

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3 stars 'Kolejnice duní ' is a collection of Plastic People tracks from 1977-1982, although it isn't a greatest hits record or even an anthology. Rather, these are songs the band recorded in their heyday (so to speak), after Canadian Paul Wilson had left the band and been deported and during the first stint with the group for saxophonist Vratislav Brabenec. That's important because Brabenec was a key influencer in the band moving away from cover tunes of the Fugs, Velvet Underground, Zappa and so forth in favor of original tunes steeped un Czech culture as well as more jazzy and improvisational than their earlier stuff. Brabenec also insisted that band sing only in Czech, as opposed to the English lyrics they briefly adopted with Wilson in the early seventies.

All these songs were recorded in the homes of friends and family of the band including the first two tracks which are believed to have been recorded at the farm home of Václava Havla in 1977 and 1978, before he was jailed by the Soviets for his dissident activities. Havla would of course go on to become President of a democratic Czechoslovakia a decade later and has remained a strong supporter of the band throughout his life. Most of the remaining songs included here were recorded at the home of the parents of percussionist Jan Brabec in 1982.

"100 bodů" is a rambling, mostly dissonant and heavily percussive tribute to the Soviet invasion of 1968 that effectively brought to an the Prague Spring era of comparatively liberal rule under Alexander Dubček. A shorter version appears on the 'Ach to státu Hanobení' collection; that version is a bit more lively while this one features a bit more vocal narrative in the form of poetry recitation and spoken-words in Czech that I assume speak of the 1968 occupation. 'Dopis Magorovi' is nearly as long at almost twenty minutes and is quite similar but with more emphasis on Vratislav Brabenec and his unique mournful, jazzy saxophone work. I'm not sure what the theme is since the words are all in Czech.

"Phil Esposito" is a disjointed ramble of spoken words and hand percussion supposedly recounting the exploits of that hockey player during the 1976 Canadian Cup in which their national team defeated the Czech team. I've no idea why the band felt the need to include this except possibly because the work features several non-band members and may have been intended as a tribute to their support or something. Not sure.

The final three tracks are feature arrangements that are a bit tighter than the first three, more sense of rhythm and discipline and are quite representative of a lot of what the band would record in the eighties and beyond. There are few vocals here, the band instead content to work out brass and percussion passages with snippets of strings and keyboards; all three of these songs are quite well-produced, especially considering the tools and environment the band had at their disposal at the time.

This disc was included on the 8-CD Globus International set released in 2000; there's another version floating around with the same cover but I won't list the catalog number since I'm quite certain it is a bootleg. In any case this probably isn't the best choice for someone who is new to discovering the band, but historically it presents a decent picture of where they were musically in the years after they went underground and before the country achieved independence from the Soviet bloc. I think there are better albums to start with and also better collections, most notably the live '1997' recording and the Globus 10th anniversary 2-disc set which is as hard to find as anything the band recorded but includes nearly every song known to most fans outside of Czechoslovakia. I have to say this one rates no more than three out of five stars, but if you are a serious fan you'll undoubtedly seek this record out at some time, if for no other reason than to complete your collection. Recommended to students of Cold War-era underground music, but for anyone else I'd say make this one of the later Plastic People records you explore.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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