Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Day After The Sabbath 153: Hungary pt 1: Mátyás' Dark Array


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A belated happy new year to everyone, and welcome to the first volume for 2024. I am happy to be making another collection for eastern Europe, as there is still such a breadth of talent from this part of the world to cover, and this volume makes some more welcome inroads to the subject. The full set of Eastern European volumes is now:
41: Eastern Roc | 101: Poland | 120: Serbia | 134: Macedonia | 153: Hungary 1

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As an aside, i'd also like to recommend my friend Kev's TDATS radio show again....he is doing his own radio-style episodes based on complete volumes of TDATS, you can listen to them at: mixcloud.TDATSRadio
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Here we have almost a completely new set of names for TDATS, with only Omega and Piramis having appeared before. During research for this particular volume I have discovered a huge amount of great music, i'm excited to say there will be two more Hungarian volumes in the future, in order to cover it all!

As with many Eastern European countries during the '60s & '70s, it's impossible not to make at least some mention of the political environment of the time. From the little I have read, it would seem that there was nowhere near as much maleffect on the rock industry in Hungary as I have mentioned in previous volumes such as the GDR (vols 146 & 149), where musicians faced outright bans and sometimes even imprisonment. I am making this assumption on what I have personally read so far of course, and maybe it was just not as well documented as in other regions. However, the all-powerful state-owned record label Magyar Hanglemezgyártó Vállalat (M.H.V.) and its subsidiaries such as Hungaraton, Pepita and Qualiton did have complete control over what was released, and at times they stifled the ability of some bands to officially publish records, if they took any stylistic or ethical dislike to them.

What is now generally considered as "Hungary's Woodstock" occurred in 1973. The Miskolc Diósgyőr Pop Festival took place in the city of Miskolc at the DVTK soccer stadium in June. This was the brainchild of 23 year old Attila Kurucz as a charity event to raise money for youth organisations in the area. He was assisted by guitarist Béla Tolcsvay who handled negotiations with the invited acts. Béla's band Tolcsvayék És A Trió is included in this volume. 

Some of the acts that appeared at the festival are down for inclusion in this and forthcoming TDATS, being BergendyP. MobilIllés, Corvina, Syrius, Zsuzsa Koncz and Generál.

At around 25,000 attendees this was a huge pop event by Hungarian standards of the time, and it completed successfully with little disturbance on the day, although, according to an interview with organiser Attila (link), the authorities were making surveillance and took issue with some joke comments made by János Bródy of the band Illés, resulting in an anti-state agitation court case being raised against him and even a house search and restraining order. More can be read on the festival at beatkorszak.hu (link), popkulturalis.hu (link) and kepmas.hu (link).

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TRACKS

01. Omega - A Hetedik Napon (1973)
from album Omega 5
02. Taurus Ex-T 25-75-82 - Szólíts Meg Vándor (1972)
single
03. Kati Kovács & Hungária - Alles, Was Du Gern Hast (1973)
single
04. Piramis - Csak Rövid Idő (1978)
from album Piramis 2
05. Syrius - Sápadt Fényű Ablak (1974)
single
06. Hungária  - Ezerarcú Bíborhajnal (1971)
from album Hungária
07. Dinamit - Neked Adnám A Világot (1979)
single
08. Corvina - Utak Előtt, Utak Után (1975)
from album Utak Előtt
09. Éva Nagy - Ez Az Utolsó Randevúnk (1968)
single
10. P. Mobil - Menj Tovább (1978)
single
11. Tolcsvayék És A Trió - Ha Lenne Pénzem (1972)
single
12. Syconor - Te Hol Vagy ? (1974)
single
13. Korál - Válaszra Várva [original version] (1975)
single
14. Sprint - Talán Egy Perc Alatt (1978)
from album Sprint
15. Beatrice - Nagyvárosi Farkas (1979)
from album 78
16. Omega - Van Aki Nyugtalan (1973)
from album Omega 5


"
"Omega 5" LP
Omega - A Hetedik Napon (1973)
This volume is book-ended by two excellent heavy prog tracks from Omega, both from the "Omega 5" LP. Making sense of the chronology of their records is not straight-forward, as they recorded different versions of albums for different countries and labels, using a separate numbering system for those, which were usually sung in foreign languages like English and German. As far as I can surmise, "Omega 5" denotes the fifth album made for Hungary and sung in Hungarian.

These facts show that they were a successful band and surely one of the most important and widely recognised Hungarian bands of all time. Having existed since 1962, Omega survived the various epochs of rock music. They touched on all combinations of beat, psych, hard rock, progressive rock and space rock, so there's something in their huge discography for everyone, what ever they did was always good, and often great. This is shown by the fact they have appeared in TDATS no less than five times previously, in volumes Two, Twenty Two, Forty One, Eighty Seven and #149, phew! They remained active until 2021, at which time a second founding member had sadly passed away, singer János Kóbor, so easily recognisable on album covers with his huge mane of hair. At this they called it a day. Omega shared members with a number of other bands which will be mentioned again, including Locomotiv GT, Kex and Non-Stop, plus Syconor, who appear later in this comp.

Taurus
Taurus Ex-T 25-75-82 - Szólíts Meg Vándor (1972)
Szólíts Meg Vándor (Call me Wanderer) opens in confident, stomping Deep Purple-ish heavy prog style. Taurus, one of the first bands in Hungary formed with the express intention of making hard rock, was started in 1972 by a bunch of guys from established bands. The full name was inspired by the Taurus constellation, combined with the phone number of drummer Brunner Győző, as he was the only member with a phone! They released only two singles in their short existence, which is a shame as both are excellent! 

The band was founded by guitarist Lajos Som and singer Ferenc Balázs, who went on to success in Piramis and Korál respectively, both of which feature in this set. It is suggested in Wikipedia that one reason for the band's demise was Brunner Győző's open criticism of the communist regime, which put him under surveillance by the authorities. Brunner did however also become a member of Korál later. More Taurus info at: Wikipedia (link) and Wayback Machine (link).

Kati Kovács & Hungária - Alles, Was Du Gern Hast (1973)

Kati is a famous pop singer in Hungary, who gladly for us made a few heavy songs in in co-operation with rock bands like Locomotiv GT, Juventus, Gemini, Hungária and Tolcsvayék És A Trió, all of whom will appear in this volume or later in TDATS regarding Hungary.

As with a lot of Hungarian acts, she was popular in communist Germany of the time, and the version of her 1972 album track "Van Jó Minden Rosszban" (which she originally recorded with Tolcsvayék És A Trió) I have used here is a German version re-titled "Alles, Was Du Gern Hast", that she made with Hungária the next year. She even recorded a version in Japanese! (link).

Piramis
Piramis - Csak Rövid Idő (1978)

This is a great slab of metallic hard rock with some prog touches, from one of Hungary's premier heavy bands during the latter part of the seventies. Bass player Som Lajos came from Taurus as mentioned. Drummer Köves Miklós and guitarist Závodi János both came from Non-Stop, and singer Sándor Révész came from a great hard rocking pop group called Generál. The latter two bands will feature in a future Hungarian TDATS.

According to Wikipedia, one contributing factor to the demise of Piramis in 1982 was the conviction and prison time for Lajos Som, for gold smuggling! Apparently, members of communist area bands that were internationally popular sometimes took advantage of their travel permissions to smuggle gold out of the Soviet Union, which must have been an attractively lucrative pursuit. More Piramis info at Facebook (link), Wikipedia (link).

Syrius
Syrius - Sápadt Fényű Ablak (1974)
Here's a fine example of riffy jazz prog from a band that had a big revolving-door lineup, featuring members of many other bands that will be mentioned here. The main ones are Taurus's Brunner Győző, guitarist Tamás Barta who will come up again in Syconor and Hungária, and later Locomotiv GT, and bassist Miklóska Lajos of Beatrice. Another member of note was bass player Jackie Orszaczky, who was also in Bakery, a band that had a brilliant track on the Australian TDATS volume 21 (link).

This obscure connection results from Syrius's strong connection to Australia, which they first visited to an enthusiastic reception in 1971, leading to them signing with the Aussie label Spin, who produced their first album in the same year. The band only made two albums during their main period of existence, but like many bands in these Hungarian TDATS, were more prolific with singles throughout the late '60s and '70s. According to Wikipedia, some key members of Syrius loved Australia, which is maybe understandable having come from communist era Hungary, and quit the band to stay there when it moved back home. The band and it's founding leader, Zsolt Baronits (deceased 1999), has remained a cult favourite for purveyors of jazz prog, and Syrius re-grouped for a commemorative show on a Danube river island in 2001. More info at Wikipedia (link).

Hungária 1971 Lang Klub
Hungária  - Ezerarcú Bíborhajnal (1971)
I had not heard of this band myself but i'm sure anyone in or near Hungary has, as they are described as the most successful rock n roll band of the country.

I really like their sound! They definitely drew influence from The Beatles, in terms of production and vocal style at least, but much of their second album verges on hard rock, with warm, over-driven bluesy guitar. This melding of pop and heaviness is instantly likable, and if you dig "Ezerarcú Bíborhajnal" (Crimson Dawn with a Thousand Faces) included here, the album it's from is equally good and consistent.

Self-Titled LP 1971
According to beatkorszak.hu (link), after the initial '60s beat/psych-pop period of the early singles and first album, they made a decisive move towards hard rock in 1971, introducing covers of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf and Uriah Heep to their live shows. Of the core members at this time, singer/keys man Fenyő Miklós, bassist Peter Sipos and guitarist Csomós Péter were also in Syconor (coming up soon) and Juventus (later TDATS), guitarist Tamás Barta was also in Locomotiv GT, Syconor and Syrius, and drummer József Tóth also played in Juventus

Early '80s Hungária
After 1971, there was a long period with no albums, but frequent singles, some on the GDR's Amiga label. According to Wikipedia, the all-powerful state-owned record company M.H.V. was to blame for refusing to let them make albums, as they did not approve of the band's hard rock direction but were scared that they would still out-sell bands that were more agreeable to them, which may explain why around 1980 it seems the band had been through an overhaul, with major line-up changes and an album that reverted to a traditional rock n roll sound and rockabilly appearance.

At this point Hungária became very successful, breaking records in terms of sales and popularity, but broke-up in 1983 for the first time, due to internal disagreements. They have re-formed at various times since then, and last year it was announced that in this year (2024) the band will reunite for a concert in the Puskás Arena, with the four surviving members of the most successful line-up. Further info: Wikipedia (link), beatkorszak.hu (link). There is a huge article that goes into details of their post-'70s career at recorder.hu (link).

Dinamit debut single 1979
Dinamit - Neked Adnám A Világot (1979)

Dinamit were a supergroup who lasted just 2-3 years in their initial existence. According to Wikipedia, the band publicly blamed the breakup on a critical trade press, for deriding them as a "state rock band".

This stately piece of Uriah Heep-like heavy prog is a side from a pair of singles released in 1979, which were followed by two albums in 1980 and 1981. Some members of note were guitarist Lugosi László and bassist Zselencz László of Beatrice (coming upon on here soon), guitarist Szűcs Antal Gábor also of Skorpió and Hungária and singer Vikidál Gyula, also of P. Mobil (coming up in this set). There have been some re-formations since 1981 and events have been announced for this year (2024). See more at Facebook (link), Wikipedia (link), zene.hu (link), passzio.hu (link) and dinamitegyuttes.hu (archived)

Corvina - Utak Előtt LP
Corvina - Utak Előtt, Utak Után (1975)
This is a haunting mood piece for a change of pace, though it does heat up a bit toward the end. Corvina created four albums in the seventies and around ten singles. Their output remained largely at the accessible, pop end of pastoral prog but they could funk it up for a few tracks on each album. At all times though the music was of a high standard. The track used here is from second album "Utak Előtt" and this is probably the first record i'd recommend to check out to anyone looking for their heavier cuts.

A member of note that played on this LP was guitarist Ferenc Szigeti, who founded Karthago, a band I have lined up for another Hungarian TDATS. More Corvina info at Wikipedia (link).

Éva Nagy - Ez Az Utolsó Randevúnk (1968)
Here's a groovy entry from the second girl singer in this set. This dancer and pop performer appears to have had only a small discography that I can find, and there is not much information to be found regarding Éva's pop career. This track is taken from a 1968 single which shared sides with Illés, a band lined up for inclusion in TDATS later and were one of the big Hungarian acts, somewhere near the recognition levels of Hungária. More about Éva at 24.hu (12) and Wikipedia (link)

P. Mobil in 1978
P. Mobil - Menj Tovább (1978)
This band was started by Lóránt Schuster in 1969 as "Gesarol". By 1973 they had become popular and were asked to stop using that name, which was actually a trademarked name for insecticide, so they became "Perpetuum Mobile", written as P. Mobil.

While always being the leader and main writer of the band, Schuster made the decision quite early to step back from performing and take up management and organisation full time, still helping as an occasional backup performer when needed.

50 year anniversary, Schuster center
The band had started out as a straight hard rock act from the outset and according to their biography, this was not a style that the state-run record labels approved of during the '70s, a problem mentioned earlier for Hungária also. However, the band refused to change style as they were getting an excellent reception at live events, so they decided to stick it out as a working live band until eventually things came around, and they started getting opportunities to make records in the late '70s. The track I used here is from their first published single, in 1978.

Since then the P. Mobil has been through many lineup changes, with some members coming and going many times, but the band has proven to be one of the most enduring hard rock acts of Hungary, with Schuster still in charge, they are still playing in 2024. More at: Wikipedia (link), pmobil.hu (link). Mobilogy (link).

Tolcsvayék És A Trió - Ha Lenne Pénzem (1972)

Here's a compact little psych blues nugget, that just plain rocks. At the time of this non-album single the titular "Trio" was the Tolcsvayék brothers, Béla and László, on guitars/keys, and Czipó Tibor on bass, although many other players are credited on the album they released the same year, such as Németh Oszkár on drums and Móricz Mihály on guitar. On that album they also had vocal contributions from no less than three of the girls who I will feature in these Hungarian comps, Zsuzsa Koncz, Kati Kovács and Sarolta Zalatnay.

Speaking of Kati Kovács, Tolcsvayék És A Trió were the backing band on her album Autogram Helyett, where you can find the original Hungarian version of track three in this set. Tolcsvayék És A Trió's music often rocked in a US country rock type way and I enjoyed a lot of what I heard while making this volume. More about the them at: Wikipedia (link

Syconor in 1972
Syconor - Te Hol Vagy  (1974)
This is a rocking prog track from a band that have been around since the beginning of Hungarian beat music, where a few names originated that would go on to bands included here like Hungária, Syrius, Locomotiv GT, Juventus and Omega. Syconor did not produce any albums but their website says they made several singles and radio recordings and were a popular live act at various stages of their career. They started up again in 2015 and are still playing now, with many original members. More at: Wikipedia (link), syconor62.hu (link). Facebook (link).

Korál - Válaszra Várva [1975 version]

Here's one of the heavier tracks in the set that begins with an abrasive hammond organ attack, clearly a preference of heavy Hungarian bands in the seventies, if the music I have found so far is anything to go by!

Although not mentioned when I was reading Taurus information for this set, all the Korál biographies state that the band came into existence to serve popular performer Zsuzsa Koncz when she was looking for a new backing band. Ex-Taurus members; singer/keys Ferenc Baláz and drummer Brunner Győző, were joined by Pál Makrai (guitar, also of Apostol & Atlas) and András Kozma (bass - also of Apostol) in 1974. While working with Zsuzsa they also released a few singles of their own, and the track I have included here is one of those. This formation of the band was very brief, and broke up within two years or so.

In 1977 a concert occurred with Piramis and legacy performances from defunct bands Taurus & Tûzkerék. Taurus's positive reception compelled Ferenc to start up a hard rock band again, so he revived Korál along with an all-new lineup of László Fischer (guitar), Zsolt Scholler (bass) and István Pados (drums). This proved to be a good decision as Korál then became one the most successful Hungarian rock bands of the '80s, making albums until the '90s, and playing big re-union shows up until the untimely death of Ferenc from Corona virus in 2020. More Korál info at: Wikipedia (link), koral.hu (link), koralforever.hu (link) and Facebook (link).

Sprint LP 1978
Sprint - Talán Egy Perc Alatt (1978)
Sometimes a bit of old fashioned rock n roll hits the spot and this track certainly delivers, really going off in the solos with truly excellent axe work from Faragó István, who was previously in one of Hungary's early beat groups, Scampolo. As far as I can tell, this is a cover of a Lehel Németh single from 1960, he is described in Wikipedia as Hungary's first ever pop / rock n roll idol.

Sprint's LP is a good example of a mainstream rock album of the late '70s touching on funk, jazz. blues, pop and even a bit of disco, not TDATS territory in the main but when they turn up the dials now and again, they show they could really rock hard. If that description appeals to you, the album is solid and definitely worth checking out in entirety.

Looking at the resumes of the members, its easy to see why the musicianship is of a high standard, but there is really no information I could find on the band regarding their seemingly brief existence from around 1976 to '78. Even the Hungarian Wikipedia has no page for them, the only act in this volume that hasn't. If anyone knows of a Hungarian rock resource which mentions them, drop me a line. Sprint included members of famous earlier bands such as Bergendy, Mini, Non-Stop, Atlas and Scampolo, and I intend to feature Bergendy and Non-Stop later!

Beatrice circa 1978, Feró Nagy center
Beatrice - Nagyvárosi Farkas (1979)
Here's the final act for this set, and it's certainly the most punk entry, from a great and heavy 1979 demo album that's a combination of hard rock and glam-punk throughout.

Beatrice had a complicated, stop/start formative period dating back to 1969, at which time they were an all-girl band who are down on at least one record, a single in 1970 where they backed singer Komár László, who in one of those could-never-be-planned TDATS coincidences, was a member of Sprint, the band that I decided to place just before this track, before I had any idea of the connection!

In 1971 they took on a front man singer called Feró Nagy, and from there the band under his influence gradually morphed into a glam rock, then hard rock act, with an all-male lineup. After a second reunion in 1987, before which Feró had started a new band called Bikini, Beatrice became a success in an atmosphere of regime change (Hungary's transition to democracy in 1989), and they are still playing now, in the form of "Feró Nagy És A Beatrice", with Feró still rocking at the age of 78! More Beatrice info at Wikipedia (link), beatrice.hu (link) and Facebook (link).


Köszönet a következő alkalomig, hogy meghallgattál, és tovább! Rich

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Further listening:
The Day After The Sabbath 146: HALLO Nr. 1 - DDR Rock part 1 [Rock of Communist Germany]
The Day After The Sabbath 149: HALLO Nr. 2 - DDR Rock part 2 [Rock of Communist Germany]
The Day After The Sabbath 131: Land Beyond The Wave [Ireland pt 1]
The Day After The Sabbath 25: Cantrips [first Scottish collection]

[Summary of all previous volumes]

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5 comments:

  1. Great, thank you for this new compilation and obviously a very happy new year to you... better late than never. Thanks Rich!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Heyyy - thanks for the shout-out to TDATS Radio, Rich!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for this compilation. It's good to see that sites like this are still alive and spreading the joy of world music.

    ReplyDelete