In the past we reviewed several releases of the Polish act SBB. The band led by band leader Józef Skrek. Responsible for the keyboard, bass and vocal parts on many of their released studio and live albums. Through the years he was always accompanied by Apostolis Antymos. A Polish jazz/ rock oriented guitarist, drummer and keyboard player of Greek origin. The drum stool was several times occupied by different drummers. On the original cassette release of Jerzyk it was Jerzy Piotrowski responsible for the rhythm parts. Jerzyk was for me so far an unknown band release. Until lately. Because I received a CD version of it not so long ago. However it is not the first time it was released on a compact disc. In 2005 the Polish record label Metal Mind released it on CD with 8 bonus tracks. Adding almost 40 minutes of extra music, where originally only almost 40 minutes were available in 1977!
Jerzyk documents without doubt a slightly different side of Skrek's compositional activity. Instead of complex, multi-part, carefully constructed works, we have here a collection of short, several-minutes compositions. This pretty stylistically interesting album shows most of all the fascination with The Mahavishnu Orchestra, on the other it flirts here with funk and disco sounds. All very popular at the time back in the late seventies. And I'll have to say it comes here with a rather good effect.
The original recordings of 9 tracks, stay intact on the CD reissue. They are here in a remastered form, prepared from original tapes from the archives of the Polish Radio in Opole.
Also there are 8 extra songs added to the original tunes. Those additional songs, were recorded in a radio studio in the same period. However most of them are the same ones which appeared on the first CD version. Although in a different order. I will tell what you can find on this fine album.
The title track, opening the disc, is a very good up tempo funky/ disco song. It has a strong, deep, functioning synth bass theme with wordless vocals of Skrek. Very nice. Kijek seems to remind you of the former fascination with The Mahavishnu Orchestra: fast, dense rhythm, clearly jazz-rock pulsation, stylish additions of an electric piano. Oddech is calmer, more melodic, increases nicely, and has quite an interesting melody. Taniec Bulibara, offers again a fast, somewhat circular rhythm and a dense wall of synthesizer sounds with a funky twist. A lot of lively, dynamic synthesizer playing is also in Garbusek, but this song contains a lot of tempo changes, there are calmer fragments, and some neat melodic themes appear. Here it seemed some musical influences might have been taken from Manfred Mann and his Earth Band. Palamakia offers the listener a very stylish funk sound: characteristically pruning guitar parts with synthesizer bass sounds. With a lot of groove to enjoy! Antymos plays a leading role in Wołanie O Podkład. He nicely leads the shapely, moody melody on a calm, ballad backing synthesizer and a leisurely rhythm. Janek is again rather up tempo and shows some resembles to Taniec Bulibara music wise. Władkowa Kołysanka seems to be a solo piece done by Skrek. A ballad performed on the piano, with a humming melodious solo done on the Moog and Józef's voice. A real sweet lullaby.
The extensive set of additional recordings opens with Cierpiarz. A lot of this funk is also on this tune and crowned with a very successful guitar solo of Apostolisa. It features great keyboard parts. Sometimes again reminding me of Manfred Mann's Earth Band because of the fine Moog solo parts. Also on Debiut Kety this is the case, however here Jan Hamer's Moog parts with The Mahavishnu Orchestra come to the surface as well. It's a very lively instrumental jazz rock tune with fine rhythm parts which keep the beat fast. Funky tunes are next on 11 Traktów. The Moog and Hohner clavinet D6 are playing a leading role here!
Renia is a bit of lively electronic playing in a fusion climate, nicely interwoven with calmer fragments, in the latter case with a very nicely enriching sound of the exposed electric piano. On Mutraczka here again we have a specific funk playing, but this time around a bit slower and with funny synth parts. Jak Było Tak Było Ale Było is again a mix of fast and slow parts with some excellent synthesizer parts reminding me of Hamer and Mann. With Metaxa its back to funky town. Here you can enjoy some exciting solo synthesizer parts, inspired by Jan Hamer obviously. The Hohner clavinet D6 keeps the funky rhythm strongly going together with drummer Piotrowski. The reissue disc ends with Podróż. Its again funk here, with strong percussion parts and the clavinet which keep the beat very strong. It seems as if Józef was very free to improvise on his Moog synthesizer.
Jerzyk is certainly is an interesting release. Presenting SBB from a rather unusual side, from the short, concise instrumental forms. And it must be admitted that with these simpler, concise musical forms the band succeeded: Skrzek presented here diverse, interesting compositions, nicely confirming his stylistic versatility. On the other hand, we have SBB flirt with funk here. Something which, without doubt, not every lover of progressive rock might enjoy!
But it has to be said that the legend of Polish rock in the 70s, in addition to extensive, progressive suites, willingly made shorter recordings, which gave vent to other fascinations. The material, which appeared in the spring of 1977 on the cassette Jerzyk, are short songs in which SBB was inspired by funk, fusion and contemporary music. These are recordings full of interesting sounds and rhythms, equipped with beautiful, often catchy melodies and - above all - still maintained in such a characteristic SBB style.
The definitive edition of Jerzyk on CD, with new mastering, a booklet with nice liner notes and pictures, and some bonus tracks is still nowadays worth a listen. I enjoyed it a lot even if it was released 43 years ago originally. A highly recommended addition to everybody who wants to add a fine album to their SBB CD collection!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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