Thursday, March 19, 2015

WALDEMAR MATUSAK - Czech versions of Bob Dylan and Marvin Hamlisch

All right, I'll get the stupid puns out of the way as quick as I can. Just call me Praguematic. Slovackian legend Waldemar Matusak spent his last years in America, but certainly had a Czech-ered career. He was a star in his native land through the 60's and 70's. Waldemar (July 2, 1932 - May 30, 2009) was not only a popular singer, but an actor as well, starring in Lemonade Joe (1964), If a Thousand Clarinets (1965), The Phanto of Morrisville (1966), The Pipes (1966), Hotel For Strangers (1967) and All My Good Countrymen (aka "All My Compatriots) in 1968. He added more in the 70's including "A Night in Karlstein" (1974).

As is often the case with European performers, Matusak embraced a variety of styles, having hits with pop, folk and ethnic music. Aside from originals in his own language, he happily covered hits from other countries, including translations of French pop by Hugues Auffray and Gilbert Becaud among others, and American ballads originally done by Frankie Laine and Al Jolson. Like many a burly foreigner ("Ronny" of Germany comes to mind), Waldemar had a love of cowboy music, and scored with his tongue-twisting versions of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "High Noon," the latter re-named "Bud Porad Se Mnou." And I think that rather than high noon, the gunfight itself took place at around 5pm, Prague time.

One way in which Waldemar was similar to the other pop stars of his day, was his early habit of singing through his nose. Dylan did it, and the cover here of "Blowin' in the Wind" seems pretty authentic. The effect isn't quite so romantic on the Marvin Hamlisch ballad "The Way We Were," but fans of the unusual, or even the eerie, will be most amused.

Given the stormy political climate of the Slovakian and Slovinian and just plain Slobby countries, it's no surprise that in the 80's, with Waldemar now living in Florida, the Commies found some reason or other to ban Waldemar's music. All was forgiven thanks to a change of leadership in 1989, and he was welcomed back home as a music legend. He divided his time between international touring, and the good life in the U.S.A. The po' guy died in 2009, but here, Monsieur Waldemar lives!

Waldemar Slýchám harmoniku hrát (The Way We Were)

Waldemar Vitr to Vi (Blowin' in the Wind)

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