Sunday, February 22, 2015

Radio - Sunday, February, 22nd, 2015 - Poland

Notes from Behind the Iron Curtain - Poland

This is the second installment of Notes from Behind the Iron Curtain. This segment looks at Polish punk scene under the influence of the USSR in the beginning looking at the period of 1977 and 1987. You can listen to the show through a download of an MP3 file here. There is some jungle from the Prophesy and a couple of station IDs at the beginning of the show. Just wait it out until you hear Mr Rogers.

This show was put together with the help of some incredible people like Robert of Warsaw Pact Records, Jason Flower who put together “Victim of a Safety Pin” and this website Kaseta Stilon Gorzow.

KARCER - Revolution Waltz (Self-Released)

We started off with a song that embodies a bit of a polka beat because the polka is close to the national dance of Poland. But in researching this show the history of Poland reads like a continuing fight for liberation whether it be exemplified by the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, the Warsaw uprising in 1944, the trial of the sixteen in June 1945 or the execution of the “Cursed soldiers”, or the Poznan workers riot in 1955 or the General Strike which led to Martial Law (December 1981 - June 1983). This latter period was the environment that punk grew under in Poland.

So in approaching a historical look at Poland's punk scene I thought we could start chronologically at the beginning which really starts with a folk artist by the name of Walek Dzedzej. He started out in 1973 and was known as the Polish Bob Dylan. I wasn’t able to find anything by him on-line but there is a song from the “Victim of a Safety Pin” comp that reflects this Bob Dylan sound. Walek gets credit for organizing and playing the the first punk gig in 1977 in Warsaw at a place called the Hybrydy Club. The people who came to the see the show were put off because Walek had turned to electric instruments inspired by the punk sounds being heard over the airwaves via Radio Luxembourg. The fans expected folk songs and instead were treated to electric guitar performances of new songs like “Cultural Propaganda” and “Anarchy in Warsaw”.

WALEK DZEDZEJ - Nie Jestem tym Czym ty (Supreme Echo)
KSU - Liban (Live)
NOCNE SZCZURY - Londyn wzywa (Live)

KSU were from a small town near the Ukraine border in the south east. The town was Ustrzyki Dolne which was a small town of 900 people and was in a region referred to as W.R.B., which stood for Free Republic of Bieszczady. The area shared an anti-communist solidarity. KSU broke up in 1980 because some members had to do their military service which was a tactic the censor board employed as a way of frustrating early punk bands. The early recordings were largely live recordings as the most punk bands couldn't get approval to record in the state run studios.

NOCNE SZCZURY were from a small seaport town on the north east Baltic coast also considered an unlikely place for punk rock to take route but shows took place at a local state run hotel called Dom Rybaka which was frequented by fishermen. There was a summer festival called Jarocin which featured new music in Poland and Nocne Szczury became the first punk band to perform at that. The song we played was recorded live in 1980 but at a show other than the Jarocin festival.

There were other bands from this first wave like DEUTSCHLAND PROSTITUTES or SPEEDBOATS which I couldn't find anything about. These were the first wave of Poland’s punk scene which came out between 1977 and 1978. A scene that grew out of this was a scene that might be considered a new wave scene and featured many bands. The most popular was a band by the name of KRYZYS. To me that band had a big Clash influence. Here is a song by them called “Telewizja” which comes from a cassette collecting material between 1978 and 1981.

KRYZYZ - Telewizja (Tonpress)
TILT - Punk Picture (Self-Released)
DEADLOCK - Am I Victim of a Safety Pin (Supreme Echo)
POE' ROCK - Punk Rock (Self-Released)
VARIETE - Papro (Self-Released)

TILT were from Warsaw and Gdansk and formed in 1979. There was a film being made about them called “Tilt Back” which featured live footage and an interview. The band before the completion of the documentary and became other bands like BRYGADA KRYZYS. The song we played was from a studio collection of material between 1979 and 1980.

DEADLOCK were from Gdansk and they formed in 1977. We played a song called “Am I Victim of a Safety Pin” which became the title of the compilation that Jason from Supreme Echo put out. The band would go on to release an album called "Ambicja" on Blitzkrieg which was a label from France. This would not be the only time that the French scene would help out the Polish scene, but the fact that a French label released a punk band before the state run Tonpress Records was a memorable embarrassment and may have led to the label releasing punk bands in the future. It was an important shift with regards to punk within the Culture Ministry.

POE’ ROCK were from Wroclaw and formed in 1978. The song we played is called “Punk Rock” and appeared on a compilation called the “First Polish New wave” which contains live songs from the very first Polish punk festival which took place in 1980.

VARIETE had a noticeable GANG OF FOUR sound to them. The song we heard was recorded in 1988 and was called Papro.


1981 - 1982
DEUTER were from Warsaw and formed out of the break up of FORNIT, KRYZYS, and TZN XENNA. They recorded quite a few times and broke up and reformed. They were one of Poland’s first super groups within the punk scene.

DEUTER - Nigdy w Nic (Self-Released)
BRYGADA KRYZYS - Fallen Fallen Is Babylon (Tonpress)
BIKINI - Zdrowe Społeczeństwo (Self-Released)
BRAK - Na Bliskiem Wschodzie (Supreme Echo) - In the Middle East
DE PRESS – Signals (Siberian)
TZN XENNA - Kim jest ten człowiek (Praktyki Studenckie 1982)
SS-20 – Burdel (Self-Released)

BRYGADA KRYZYS were the second punk rock super group to form out of these early bands. They also had a punk and reggae vibe to them in the spirit of the RUTS.

BIKINI comes from a collection of material.

BRAK were from Lodz. They formed in 1980 and this song comes from a recording in 1982 at a student radio station.

DE PRESS became known as one of the Cold Wave bands which could be considered pioneers of the goth sound. Technically they were from Norway but the band was led by a Polish guy living in Norway. This comes from a release called “Produkt” that came out in 1982.

TZN XENNA were from Warsaw. They started in 1981 and they were originally called ANNEX. They had to change their name so they chose TZN XENNA. TZN is an acronym which means “It Stands for” and XENNA is ANNEX spelled backwards. This recording is one of the band’s earliest recorded at the Warsaw Academy for Music in 1982. This is around the time when the guitarist would join DEUTER.

SS-20 were a hardcore band named after a secret Russian missile. This recording collecting their appearance at Jarocin from 1982 and a demo they recorded in 1981. One of the songs they covered was Stiff Little Finger’s “Suspect Device”. When Martial Law was declared in 1981 the band’s name was outlawed and so they had to switch it to DEZERTER. DEZERTER would go on to become the most famous of all punk band’s to come from Poland.

In 1983, the state run label would finally release a 4 song ep by DEZERTER called “Ku Przyszłości” which would become part of the recording that Joey Shithead of DOA would smuggle out of the country a few years later and give to MRR to release as the “Underground out of Poland” LP. Tonpress had sold 50,000 copies of the ep but refused to re-press it. So DEZERTER took matters into DOA's hands.

DEZERTER - Szara rzeczywistosc (Tonpress)
REJESTRACJA - Armia (Noise Annoys)
SMIERC KLINICZNA - Nasza edukacja (Tonpress)

REJESTRACJA were a band from Torun that formed in 1980. Their name was short for Registration Conscription required of all young men to do their military service. The band was effected by Martial Law but did get to record a demo called “Darmowe Wczasy” in 1983, which is where the song above comes from.

SMIERC KLINICZNA were from a place called Gliwice and had two ep comes out in 1983. They were unconventional and were playing with many sounds coming out of the new wave scene. They were well known for the song called “Sahara”, but I picked something else that shows off the band’s many influences with the song “Nasza edukacja”. There is a great whistling part in the chorus.

1984 saw hardcore bands really explode out of Poland. MOSKWA were probably one of the most well known bands at the time. With a name like Moskwa they were an obvious target for the state censors making it tough for them to record, but they played Jarocin in 1984 and won studio time as a prize. That was released in 2011 as an ep on Warsaw Pact Records. It is a much better recording but I thought I would go with something lesser available.

MOSKWA - Oj Oj Oj (Self-Released)
SIEKIERA - Fala (Self-Released)
INSEKTY NA JAJACH - Trzeci świat (Self-Released)
OKRUCH - Nie Wiem (Self-Released)

SIEKIERA would go on to record quite a few times. They were compared to SIEGE and OHLO SECO and COLERA and had a pretty devastating sound. This was taken from a recording in 1984 called “Demo Summer 1984”.

INSEKTY NA JAJACH was a band from the same town as MOSKWA. They were influeced by UK bands like DISCHARGE and DISORDER. Little is known about OKRUCH.

1985 - 1986
TZN XENNA finally gets an ep released on Tonpress and we played the title track.

TZN XENNA - Dzieci z Brudnej Ulicy (Tonpress)
ABADDON - III. Wojna or “World War III”. (New Wave / Warsaw Pact)
KARCER – Skinheads (Self-Released)
KONWENT A - Kim jest (Self-Released)

ABBADON were from Bydgoszcz and one of their first releases was a split tape with REJESTRACJA they put out in 1985. But in 1986 New Wave Records out of France releases their first LP. The French connection strikes again. The LP was called “Wet za Wet” and this is a song off that called “III. Wojna” or “World War III”.

KARCER were from Slupsk and recorded an incredible demo in 1986. They had a song about “Skinheads” which wasn’t as ripping fast as they usually play, but it did have a sing a long chorus.

KONWENT A were from Gdansk and started out in 1983. A tape called “Best of” was released as a bootleg later on but collected live, rehearsals, and studio recordings. “Kim jest” was one of the few studio recordings.

1984 - Sztuczne Oddychanie (Outlaw)
KOLABORANCI - Pociąg (Kaszana Warszawa Factory)
DEFEKT MOZUGU - Ku-klux-klan (Psycho 31)
ARMIA - Saluto (Tonpress)
ID - Przedmiescia (Self-Released)

1984 were part of the Cold Wave movement and recorded quite a bit. The “Why Not LP came out in 1987 as a demo but more recently has been pressed as vinyl by Pasazer Records.

KOLABORANCI had a collection of material come out called “I My Kiedys Będziemy Grać Przeboje”.

DEFEKT MOZUGU translated to mean Brain Defect. This came from a tape of recordings from 1987 and 1988.

ARMIA finally get a state release in 1987 which is an ep.

ID. One of the Freudian concepts like ego and super ego. They were from Krakow. This comes from a recording titled “Drzewa umierają stojąc”. This band does a cover of ADRENALIN O.D.’s “Suburbia”.

THE CORPSE were from Lask and started up in 1985. They released four recordings in the next two years. “Fight Against Rules” gets released on Warsaw Pact records. They had a crossover sound to them. This song does make it onto that recording and is better sounding but this version is more raw sounding.

THE CORPSE - W Mieście (Self-Released)

A lot of the downloads for this show came from Kaseta Stilon Gorzow.

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