Czech Republic - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 9 - 07/20/97
You can't talk about the Czech rock scene
and not mention this group.
In 1963, Olympic became the first rock
band officially recorded and released by the Czech Communist government.
The two founding members kept the band going for over 30 years and their
12 albums of original recordings sold well over million copies.
to the band's own statistics, over the years they have recorded almost
400 originals, played nearly 6000 concerts (about a third of them
and drank about 14000 gallons of beer - plus 3 glasses of lemonade...
This compilation CD contains 17 songs
from their first 20 years. All of them were composed and are sung by
Petr Janda, Olympic's guitarist and leader. But since there is
absolutely no additional information anywhere on the CD, unfortunately
this uniformity of sound and style soon leads an uninvolved listener to
boredom. It is my hope these notes will provide at least some guidance
for those without any emotional ties to the songs.
The first two cuts originally recorded in
1967, come from Olympic's first album Zelva (Turtle). Both
awkward lyrics and charming Beatles-like melodies. The next two,
Andel (Angel) and Otazky (Questions) with a new lyricist
bring us Leonard Cohen's folksiness while Danny and Bon Soir
Mademoiselle Paris (all from 1970), combine 'Hey Jude' with
Donovan's 'Atlantis'. Between 1970 and 1974, the band undergoes
personnel and stylistic changes until they emerge with a new pop
oriented style and rather complex vocal harmonies on the appropriately
titled Uz je lip (Things Are Looking Up). On (He) and
Taky jsem se narodil bos (I Was Also Born Barefoot) from
Marathon (1977) when Janda was 28, feature their first shy use of
synths and phony sounding retrospective lyrics by an older non-rock
lyricist. Co vsechno se tu muze stat (Everything That Can
Happen Here) carries an ecological message; The rest of the songs from
the early 80's were all penned for the elusive 'Bratislava Lyre'
competition in a general Pink Floyd/Yes/Genesis style.
So what to make of all this? On one hand,
Olympic has never been rebellious enough either musically or
politically. On the other, Janda was always able to incorporate the
latest musical trends into his own writing. This timidness and
willingness to participate in 'Star Search' like pop music competitions
allowed them to function as a pet rock band of the Communist government.
And because of their awareness of hip Western trends, they stayed
popular with their audience. Ultimately however, it was the political
changes of the country that brought about the end of Olympic's long
Copyright © 1997 Ivan Sever