Nothing beats listening to a local radio during nightshifts and as they rely heavily on older tracks, the level of nostalgia coming through the speaker is unbelievable. Oh my, how many great hits of yesterday. Therefore it should come as no surprise that I inevitably hum some songs for no reason. Which is OK, but it’s really strange when I start to hum either kids’ songs (thanks to my daughter’s repeated viewings of such on Youtube) or stuff like Take That. And while I would argue the newer material of Take That is very good, stuff like “Never Forget” and “Re-Light My Fire” arouse some suspicion in my inner self. What the hell is happening to me?
One thing leads to another and suddenly a vibe went down my spine. Kids, do I recall some stuff worthy of mentioning here on The Rubber Axe! And I am willing to take risks of appearing ridiculous!
But folks, the level of nostalgia is dangerously high here, thanks to the fact that I’ve been given a tape of an album I’m gonna talk about by my then-girlfriend as a love gift. Past loves make for a perfect nostalgia indeed. I’m not gonna dwell of that part too long, though, for let the bygones be bygones, and tonight we’re gonna learn something about – let the drums roll – one important Slovak eurodancefloor act of the second half of 1990s.
As some of you might remember, 1990s brought us quite a lot of important developments in music. Seattle has brought us grunge and social anxiety coupled with a depression, actively ending the happy days of glam/hair metal, extreme metal was getting better and better and in the Europe we enjoy – among other things – happy little dance music commonly referred to as Euro dancefloor. True, most of the acts were produced just to make a quick buck by the crafty producers (sounds familiar?) and were far from anything original or long lasting, but who cares? Obviously, one couldn’t remember all the projects, as there were so many, but of course, names like Snap!, 2 Unlimited (the original duo, of course), Fun Factory, Twenty 4 Seven and many more did carve their place in music history, no matter how music snobs wanna look down on them.
Slovakia was not different. Given that all you’ve needed to create some stuff was a computer with a soundcard and some music software, it didn’t take long for the early birds to arrive. 1994 has marked the arrival of the seminal dance group called Maduar (which was a composite of the members’ names, brothers Matynkó, Dulovič and Aresta). Guys got themselves a help by recruiting a young singer named Barbara Haščáková and released their first album called I Feel Good. This one has brought out hits like titular “I Feel Good” and mega-successful “Do It!”, which later was also parodied by another act called Kopytovci (but unfortunately, to get the joke, one needs to understand the lyrics).
The debut album followed the established formula (one rapper, in this case it was Erik Aresta) and at least one female singer (aforementioned Barbara Haščáková) and of course, we need to admit, it has sounded formulaic as well (and let’s not kid ourselves, you don’t listen to this stuff to find a deep philosophical concepts in the lyrics), you ever have dabbled in the music production on the computer, you certainly recognize many of the samples used. But compared to other acts in the same genre worldwide (or, better to say, Euro-wide), it haven’t sounded bad at all.
And as it is also quite a norm, after a great success of the album, the band itself has broken up – MC Erik and Barbara have formed their duo, brothers Matynkó and Laco Dulovič have continued with Maduar (later on Laco has left and Maduar became a duo of Matynkó brothers).
So much for a short intro – and today we will have a look at my fave album of MC Erik and Barbara – U Can’t Stop.
Originally released in 1995, it was re-released in 1996 with a different cover and added bonuses and it sold about 150 thousand copies, for which the duo has received basically all the awards available. Considering the size of the local Slovak (and partly Czech) market, the success was phenomenal.
Although the dancefloor oriented songs don’t stray away from the formula, they are catchy and I can personally testify about me dancing to them 🙂 Oh, boy, stories I could tell… Anyway, I love all those songs, but if pressed for a pick, I’d go with “I’m Free”, “Forever Friends” and “Be Happy”. Great tunes indeed.
But the strength of the album lies in slow ballads – originally sung in Slovak language Keď príde láska (also featured on the album in an English version entitled “When Love Is Calling”, although the beauty of original lyrics is quite lost in translation, but that’s the price one has to pay to get exported into English speaking countries, unfortunately), “Anjel II” (Angel II), which was a re-made version of a successful Maduar single “Anjel”, this time with added Erik’s slow rap and personally my absolute favourite, “Hideaway” (this one was my song of choice during a very very bad period in my life, so yeah…it’s personal).
The album also offers one cover version (OK, technically two, if I count Anjel II) – Summer Night from the movie Grease (like I should tell you that, right)? Paired with a nice video tribute to the original movie sequence, it stands out from the rest of the songs, but I am not complaining.
So, dear readers, here I am. One listening to all the extreme genres admiting my guilty Euro dancefloor pleasure – and I urge you all to try and sample some of the songs mentioned here on Youtube. I know you want to!