Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 November 07 • Wednesday

Ace Records continues to put out amazing compilations of old rock and roll, pop, blues, etc. This new release is one of their best and perhaps most obscure: She Came from Hungary!: 1960s Beat Girls from the Eastern Bloc.

The liner notes give an interesting overview of what the political and cultural situations were in Hungary in the 1960s. A governemtnal resolution called the Use and Practical Spending of Leisure Time by Young People basically gave permission for teenagers to form rock bands and many of those bands had female singers. And now we can hear some of them!

All of it is my kind of sing, swinging and stomping sixties rock/pop with cool keyboard and guitar sounds.

Márta Bencze's "Csak Fiataloknak" borrows a big chunk of Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn theme and her strong and soaring voice makes you wish she's recorded the actual theme. (It ended up with words. Sarah Vaughan recorded a vocal version.) According to the liner notes, the title means "Only For Young People".

More in the acid rock vein is "Ha Csak Egy Fokkal Szebb Az Ördögnél" by Gabi Fenyvesi. The fuzz guitar is definitely an asset here.

A lilting 6/8 rhythm and jangly electric guitars, one of them possibly a 12-string, gives Zsuzsa Koncz's "Keresem A Szót" a Byrds feel, while parts of the melody might remind you of "Hey Joe".

"Könyörögni Nem Fogok" by Zsuzsa Mátray sounds like a blend of The Rolling Stones with Booker T. & The MG's on acid. As impressive as the organ and guitars and drums are, it's definitely her voice that's making this happen. Some nice soloing from the guitar and keyboards, though.

Sarolta Zalatnay's "Zöld Borostyán" has perhaps the most interesting arrangement and some very unusual phrasing of the vocal lines in places. There's an acid wah-wah guitar freak-out at one point and a driving breakbeat drum part throughout.

If you were wondering where the harpsichord and strings are in all this, then skip ahead to the minor key and anxious-sounding "Most Kéne Abbahagyni" by Kati Kovács. This song comes close to recapturing the symphonic bombast that used to be the delivery vehicle for teen pop.

And that's just a sample! There are 24 songs on this CD and they're all great!