Half a century since the first Plastic People album. A series of concerts reminds him

Half a century since the first Plastic People album. A series of concerts reminds him
Half a century since the first Plastic People album. A series of concerts reminds him

Musicians associated with The Plastic People of the Universe will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the recording of their first “studio” and long-banned album Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned. The series of concerts called PPU Egon Bondy Tour 2024, at which the songs from the album will be heard, will start this Thursday, April 4, in Prague’s Akropolis Palace. The Krch-off Band, the group of the poet JH Krchovský, will perform as a guest.

The audience will be introduced to keyboardist and singer Josef Janíček, drummer Jan Brabec, trombonist Vladimír Dědek, cellist Tomáš Schilla and bassist Ivan Bierhanzl. Janíček is the only witness to the shooting.

The tour will continue through Brno, Olomouc and a dozen other cities until it culminates on June 29 at Houska Castle. It was there 50 years ago that the recording of one of the most famous records of the Czechoslovak underground began.

The title Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned parodied the record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the British The Beatles, with the pun Banned instead of Band, in translation Egon Bondy’s Forbidden Club of Happy Hearts.

“Soundwise and lyrically, it was a completely different matter: raw music, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes dark rock, sometimes cacophonous with free jazz solos, but always easily recognizable and unique, even on a global scale. And on top of that the merciless lyrics of Egon Bondy,” reminds Vladimír Drápal said Lábus, which releases recordings associated with the former underground.

It was his label Guerilla Records that re-released Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, as a double album, the fourth side of which is a recording of a concert from January 31, 1975. Plastic People played at the wedding of Jaroslava and Jaroslav Kukal.

The current formation already completed its first concert last week in Prague’s Kaštan. “Entrance was by invitation, as in the old underground days, only no one had to worry about being picked up by estebás on the way,” journalist Ondřej Bezr wrote on the website Headliner.cz. According to him, the tour is taking place on the occasion of the debut album, but only a few songs from it were played live in Kaštan. “The repertoire is actually composed more or less from the entire ‘totalitarian’ career of the band, and the concert has a sound closest to the peak albums Hovězí poráža and Půlnoční miš from the eighties,” he added.

The album Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned was recorded by The Plastic People of the Universe between 1974 and 1975 at Houska Castle, where its creation was made possible by the then castellan Svatopluk Karásek, and also in the Prague studio. In communist Czechoslovakia, the recording could not be released and distributed legally, so fans copied it from one another. The album was officially released in France in 1978, in the Czech Republic only in 2001.

Most of the songs on the recording are Egon Bondy’s poems set to music. Czech writer and philosopher, real name Zbyněk Fišer, was a prominent figure of the underground. In the 1970s he met Ivan Martin Jirous from the Plastic People band, in the 1980s he influenced the early work of Jáchym Topol or JH Krchovský. Although he never identified with the image of the communist regime in his texts and became a persistent critic of it, Bondy cooperated with State Security.

The Plastic People of the Universe was founded in September 1968 by bassist Milan Hlavsa, other members were singer Michal Jernek, guitarist Jiří Števich and drummer Josef Brabec. He was replaced a few months later by Pavel Zeman, and guitarist and keyboardist Janíček and saxophonist Vratislav Brabenec also joined the group.

In the former Czechoslovakia, the group became a victim of state bullying, which culminated in the arrest of the then members in March 1976 and provoked protests from the cultural public. The band, which performed at secret concerts, after 1989 played at the White House for presidents Bill Clinton and Václav Havel, among others. In 2016, due to internal disputes, it split into two parts.

Video: Toxika by Plastic People

The song Toxika from Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned album, recorded in 1974. The picture is from the same summer. Photo: Photo: Petr Prokeš | Video: Guerilla Records

The article is in Czech

Tags: century Plastic People album series concerts reminds


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