Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
flag Hungary - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 3 - 01/23/97

Hungaria
Arena
Hungaroton Records

I am really intrigued by this recording. Other than the retro-chick drawings on the cover, there is very little information to go by. Yet, because this recording so freely mixes varied elements such as languages (i.e. Hidrogen Bulvar, Randevu Szerviz, Sztriptiz Bugi etc.), male with female voices, and most importantly all kinds of musical styles from 50's through the 80's, Arena becomes very difficult to pin down. And that only encourages repeated listening.

For instance the cut A Transitorkor Hajnalan (On The Eve Of Transistor Age) starts off with a simple female voice accompanied by a plucky guitar and rhythmic finger snapping. It sounds like any number of early 60's Brenda Lee or Connie Francis recordings. Then the second verse, accompanied by a male doo-wah background, leads into the solo (played on an accordion) and a big band arrangement of (synth) horns trading 2 measures with tap-dancing drums. And before you know it, the song ends with a coda of typically Spanish-sounding descending harmonies! Not unlike as if you were spinning a transistor radio dial, this song becomes a trip through a couple of decades of music from around the world, all of it in 2:40 minutes...

Furthermore, there are other and subtle reasons that compel repeated listening. Many of the songs have a vaguely familiar sound from the Beach Boys (in Palatinus) to Stray Cats (in Flipper). Even if the opening Rock And Roll Katlan (Rock And Roll Kettle) simulates a radio show and the closing title cut sounds like a live recording, the both have the same beat. But most importantly, Arena is a happy, good times record. When you consider it was originally released in 1982, when Hungary was under heavy Communist regime, that makes it an even more remarkable accomplishment. Luckily, it was re-released by Hungaroton Records and I hope you'll give it a repeated listen. I know I did.

Copyright © 1997 Ivan Sever e-mail address

If you wish to print this review, we have a printer friendly version.

We also have 3 other articles/reviews of artists from Hungary in our archive:

© 2011 Luna Kafé