Monday, May 31, 2010

Waldemar Matuška- Nebeskej Kovboj (Nebraska Cowboy)

This one is pretty interesting. It's an album from 1965 by Czech pop singer Waldemar Matuška. This isn't your run-of-the-mill Eurovision stuff either. Matuška was fond of American music, and like most foreign pop singers at the time, his songs are essentially an amalgam of various styles of American and British Popular music that were current at the time (or about 5 years earlier) mixed in with the traditional music of the singer's homeland (Bollywood is the most famous example of this).

But there was one thing that separated him from the others, not only did he mix early 60s American popular music (this album mixes lounge lizard, ratpackesque vocals, spaghetti western soundtracks, and surf-rock without any subtlety), he also mixed in American Folk Music. Many of the songs are clearly based on American folk songs (the kind you had to sing in Elementary School) such as 'Růže z Texasu' which is based on 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' or 'Jó, třešně zrály' which has the same tune as 'Go Tell Aunt Rohdie'. As you might expect from an album with 'Nebraska Cowboy' as the title, most of the songs have a western theme. The first song on the album, 'Nebeskej Kovboj' sounds like the opening theme to a Czech western (if they had any westerns), and it's one of the best opening tracks of any album I've heard.

He was fairly popular in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s, he even made appearances in a few films. In 1986, he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Soon after, the Czechslovakian government banned his records because they thought they promoted Western culture too much. After the Velvet Revolution, he finally received the credit that he deserved. He died in Florida on May 30, 2009 (exactly a year ago).

I got this album as a gift from my parents when they came back from vacation in Prague a few years ago. It's a CD re-issue from 1996, so it had 8 bonus tracks on it too!
I've translated the song titles with Google translator, because of this the translations may not be accurate, if you know Czech and are willing to provide me with better translations, please let me know!

The best opening track ever

1 comment:

  1. This link is for a different album...sad.