Sunday, July 21, 2013

Niemen – Vol. 1

   In sixties, after collapse of Stalin regime in Soviet Russia and withdrawal of Stalinism in Soviet bloc, Poland became a kind of oasis for avant-garde arts, where every kind of progressive creativity was supported by state donations and politically correct. This was the element of propaganda pose of ending with old politics. Festivals like Warsaw Autumn and Jazz Jamboree were grand manifestations of new attitude and grand opening for new music. Although censorship was known fact, there was freedom of experimenting and freedom of artistic expression. Czesław Niemen (1939-2004) was one of best Polish singers and songwriters. After the war, together with family he was citizen of People’s Republic of Belarus and in 1956 with Second Repatriation he migrated to Poland.
   He started his career as a popular and rock singer, performing independently and with Niebiesko-Czarni, the first R&B band in Poland. In 1967 he published his solo debut Dziwny jest ten świat (Strange Is This World) being the first soul production in Polish popular music. Eponymous song with music and lyrics by Czesław Niemen became one of greatest hits and a kind of program philosophical program for whole generation. This and consecutive recordings made Czesław Niemen the brightest star of Polish rock scene in late 60’s and early 70’s.

Niemen – Vol. 1 (1973)

   After first three albums in R&B style, he created progressive project Enigmatic, which was the name of the band and the album. This album is considered as the starting point of Polish sung poetry, but this was also the moment one can consider as establishing original progressive rock style. After one year LP was certified as golden record with 160 thousand copies sold, and with later reissues the album was sold in 5 million copies worldwide. In Niemen’s next album named eponymously he continued experiments in merging art-rock with romantic poetry, especially Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Polish romantic poet, author of uncompromised historiosophical poems. In 1972 artist debuted in Germany with his first record abroad Strange Is This World with new, progressively arranged version of his first hit. During the three years contract with European division of CBS Niemen recorded three albums of experimental rock and solo recital of Russian songs.
   First two albums for CBS Czesław Niemen recorded with trio of three progressive musicians known later as SBB, multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger Józef Skrzek, guitarist Antymos Apostolis and drummer Jerzy Piotrowski. This lineup on first album there was augmented by avant-gardist Helmut Nadolski, who played upright bass. With this musicians and trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski in July 14-23, 1972 in Warsaw Czesław Niemen recorded two albums titled as many of his albums just Niemen. These records became milestones in the history of Polish experimental rock. First record comprises three compositions - Requiem dla Van Gogh’a (Requiem for Van Gogh) by Helmut Nadolski, Sariusz composed by Niemen to text of Norwid and collective composition of the band Inicjały (Initials), based on instrumental and vocal improvisations.

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