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    Some history of Polish rock

    After the era of "big-bit" (Polish style of simple rock'n'roll), one of the earliest pioneers of Polish rock was Tadeusz Nalepa, a singer, guitarist and songwriter who began his career playing pop music in his group – Blackout, before turning to blues rock and changing the band's name to Breakout in 1968. Their debut – "Na drugim brzegu tęczy", is often referred to as the "first Polish rock album in history".
    Significant artists of "big-bit era": Czerwone Gitary, Niebiesko-Czarni, Czerwono-Czarni, Trubadurzy, Karin Stanek

    In the 1970s, due to political and censorship pressure, there were very few bands that managed to gain success or good artistic level.
    Significant 1970s artists: Niemen, Budka Suflera, SBB, Marek Grechuta (artist on the edge of rock, usually not of that genre), Skaldowie

    1982 – beginning of the "boom of rock" in Poland – debuts or first success of many important bands. On 24.04.1982 was first broadcast of Lista Przebojów Programu Trzeciego, voting chart that helped promoting many rock bands. Underground artists were promoted at Rozgłośnia Harcerska.
    1987-1990 – crisis of rock, many artists emigrated, bands broke up, split or were suspended. Meanwhile, there was second wave of Polish rock called Krajowa Scena Młodzieżowa (Sztywny Pal Azji, Chłopcy z Placu Broni, Róże Europy, Kobranocka, Tilt, Mr Z'OOB, Rezerwat), but with minor market and/or artistic success.
    Significant 1980s artists- official market: "THE GREAT FOUR": Perfect, Republika, Lady Pank, Maanam. Other: Oddział Zamknięty, Lombard, TSA, Bajm (most of them still active and popular in 2000s)
    – underground scene: Kult, Dezerter, Brygada Kryzys, Klaus Mitffoch, Dżem, T.Love Alternative, Turbo, Aya RL, Izrael, Daab, Kat

    1992-1995 – second boom of Polish rock, many female vocalists
    From 1997 till the mid-2000s Polish rock "went underground" due to not being played on greatest commercial medias, despite many artistic successes or attention of many fans.
    Significant 1990s artists: Wilki, Myslovitz, Acid Drinkers, Homo Twist, Vader, Voo Voo, Armia, Sweet Noise, Kazik/Kazik Na Żywo, Ira
    Female rock: Hey, Edyta Bartosiewicz, Kasia Kowalska, O.N.A., Closterkeller
    Gained new success: Kult, Dżem, T.Love (after changing style from punk to rock shortened its name from T.Love Alternative)
    Reunioned and managed to gain new fans: Perfect, Republika, Lady Pank, Maanam

    Significant 2000s artists: Myslovitz, Kult, Hey, Dżem, Wilki, Cool Kids of Death, Coma, Lao Che, Nosowska, Pogodno, Ścianka, Vader, Behemoth, Voo Voo, Lech Janerka, Strachy na Lachy, Acid Drinkers






    Polish popular music in the 60's was relatively tame compared to its Western contemporaries, mostly because the Communist government was rather skeptical about rock'n'roll and tried to limit its cultural influence on the young generation. In fact, to avoid trouble from association, a new term was coined – "big beat" and its Polish language equivalent, "mocne uderzenie". The big beat performers were mostly imitating British stars of the time, sometimes adding elements of Polish folk music. The first popularizator of rock'n'roll, or big beat, in Poland was Franciszek Walicki, who was the creative force behind the first Polish rock'n'roll bands: Rhythm And Blues and later Czerwono-Czarni, which started in 1960 and quickly became immensely popular across the country.


    Among the more notable big beat acts were Niebiesko-Czarni (who later created the first Polish rock opera, "Naga"), the more folk-tinged Skaldowie and No To Co, the Animals-inspired Polanie, and last but not least, Czerwone Gitary (Red Guitars). This band, clearly borrowing its sound and image from early Beatles, surpassed all the others in popularity; its leaders, Seweryn Krajewski and Krzysztof Klenczon, would later have successful careers of their own.


    The decade marked the beginning of the career of singer, guitarist and songwriter Tadeusz Nalepa, the father of Polish blues rock. Already in his first important band, Blackout (formed in 1965), he wrote songs with help of lyricist and poet Bogdan Loebl, marking sort of a beginning of Polish singer-songwriter tradition. Their cooperation was continued in Nalepa's next and most famous band, Breakout, whose first album "Na drugim brzegu tęczy" (released 1969) sent shock waves through the country – the first truly modern Polish rock album, in the vein of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, but with added folk flavour. Breakout would release seminal blues rock records in the 70's.

    Tadeusz Nalepa

    The 60's also brought Poland one of its most original artists, Czesław Niemen. He started out performing Latin and big beat songs, but soon transformed into a superstar when his protest song 'Dziwny jest ten świat' (Strange Is This World) was applauded to no end at 1967 Opole festival. The key to his success was not only an extraordinary voice and image, but also very expressive, soul-influenced repertoire and poetic lyrics. He was not satisfied with that, though; he would move on to much greater things in the 70's. Following in Niemen's footsteps was Stan Borys, formerly lead vocalist of Blackout, with a taste for expressive, sometimes dramatic soul music.

    Czesław Niemen

    One of the most critically acclaimed artists, although totally removed from mainstream entertainment, was Ewa Demarczyk. She sang mostly lyrics written by classical poets, with rather non-commercial arrangements, in a manner closer to drama than pop. Nevertheless, her interpretations continue to be recognized as masterpieces, also in the rock-related circles.

    Ewa Demarczyk

    At the end of the decade, big beat finally gave way to more evolved rock genres, which would dominate the Polish scene in the following years.

    Some significant albums of this decade (excluding compilations):

    Breakout – Na drugim brzegu tęczy (1969)
    Czerwono-Czarni – Czerwono-Czarni (1966)
    Czerwone Gitary – To właśnie my (1966), Czerwone Gitary 3 (1968)
    Czesław Niemen – Dziwny jest ten świat (1967)
    Ewa Demarczyk – Ewa Demarczyk śpiewa piosenki Zygmunta Koniecznego (1967)
    Niebiesko-Czarni – Mamy dla was kwiaty (1968)
    Polanie – Polanie (1968)
    Skaldowie – Cała jesteś w skowronkach (1969)
    Stan Borys i Bizony – To ziemia (1969)





    Polish rock scene in the early 70's was developing rapidly, with progressive rock and blues rock becoming very popular. Emerging as one of the most important figures of the era was multi-instrumentalist Józef Skrzek, who first collaborated with Breakout as a pianist, before forming his own band SBB (Silesian Blues Band) with Jerzy Piotrowski and Apostolis Anthimos. SBB, after a brief period of accompanying Czesław Niemen, became a very successful prog-rock band on their own. Breakout, meanwhile, followed the blues rock path, establishing themselves as Poland's absolute top act in the genre. Czesław Niemen turned his back on his former soul-hitmaker image and became a pioneering artist in many ways: first as a progressive rocker, surrounding himself with an ever changing lineup of virtuoso musicians (the 1970 album 'Enigmatic' is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Polish prog-rock), and then as an electronic music composer, never afraid of experimentation and always incorporating poetry into his work (most notably of Cyprian Kamil Norwid). This ultimately brought him far from mainstream success, but his artistic achievements earned him a place in history forever. Other notable prog-rock bands were the short-lived but ambitious Klan and Budka Suflera, who released a few critically acclaimed albums in the mid-to-late 70's before going more in the pop rock direction in the next decade.


    For a brief period, jazz rock was also popular. Bands like Nurt, Dżamble and Anawa were representative examples, the latter two featuring singer Andrzej Zaucha. Anawa are perhaps better known for accompanying (before Zaucha joined) the famous Polish poet-singer, Marek Grechuta, in the early stages of his career. Grechuta, regarded as one of the best Polish songwriters of all time, fused together elements of pop, jazz and symphonic arrangements in a unique way, making him distinct from other artists performing poetry.

    Marek Grechuta

    The main platform for Polish pop music was the Opole festival, at the time promoting mostly "safe" but still musically competent artists, often bordering on mainstream jazz. The main pop acts of the decade include 2+1 (Dwa Plus Jeden), Halina Frąckowiak, Krzysztof Krawczyk, Anna Jantar, Tadeusz Woźniak, Zdzisława Sośnicka, Ewa Bem and Zbigniew Wodecki. Poland's biggest female superstar was however Maryla Rodowicz, who broke through in 1973 with the song "Małgośka" and has remained popular ever since (many of her early hits featured lyrics by poet Agnieszka Osiecka).

    Maryla Rodowicz

    [img width=700 height=490]http://www.tekstowo.pl/zdjecie_wykonawcy,dwa_plus_jeden,ZHdhX3BsdXNfamVkZW5fMl81OGUyZDU4M18zNjk3MjI._800_600_.jpg” />
    Dwa Plus Jeden

    The late 70's were not a good period for Polish rock. Big names of the past years had mostly disappeared, gone downhill artistically or concentrated on a small target group beyond the mainstream; besides, rock was not promoted in the media at all. When punk and new wave hit Europe, something started happening, but Polish youth would have to wait a few years for new, mainstream rock. The seeds of change were sown by a new independent scene based around Tricity (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot), dubbed Muzyka Młodej Generacji. The main artists featured – Kombi, Exodus, Krzak – were not exactly in line with the times (their music was at the time still firmly rooted in the early seventies), but it was the start of a rock invasion that would spread across Poland at the beginning of the next decade…

    Some significant albums of the decade (excluding compilations):
    Anawa – Anawa (1973)
    Breakout – Blues (1971), Karate (1972), Ogień (with Mira Kubasińska, 1973)
    Budka Suflera – Cień wielkiej góry (1975), Przechodniem byłem między wami (1976)
    Czesław Niemen – Enigmatic (1970), Niemen (1971) and more
    Dżamble – Wołanie o słońce nad światem (1970)
    Klan – Mrowisko (1971)
    Marek Grechuta & Anawa – Korowód (1971)
    Marek Grechuta – Droga za widnokres (1973), Magia obłoków (1974)
    SBB – SBB (1974), Pamięć (1976)





    The early 80's brought Poland a multitude of new rock bands and styles. All this happened despite overall low availability of records on the market, difficulties with releasing records and obtaining professional instruments, and most of all, the overall political turmoil (martial law was declared on December 13, 1981, resulting in severe restrictions on everyday life until 1983). The overall attitude toward rock changed for the better, with the Opole festival allowing true rock artists from 1980 on, and the creation of the main Polish rock festival of the decade – the Jarocin festival. The latter one, first held in 1980, was the Polish equivalent of Woodstock, with many top bands making their debut there. In fact, Jarocin was sort of a credibility indicator for rock artists in Poland – reception at the festival was one of the keys to popularity.

    The first punk / new wave bands in Poland were Kryzys and Deadlock. Both operated in the underground and did not last long enough to enjoy success, but were an inspiration for many followers. Another pioneer was John Porter; hailing from Wales, after a brief period in Maanam he formed his own band; the first LP by Porter Band ("Helicopters", released 1980), with English lyrics, is widely regarded as one of the first new wave albums in Poland. Among the most prominent Polish new wave artists in the early 80's were Brygada Kryzys (formed from the ashes of Kryzys), early Maanam, Republika, Klaus Mitffoch and the more experimental Aya RL. Polish punk rock found its representatives above all in Dezerter, KSU and Siekiera (the latter, dubbed 'the most extreme band in Poland', later changed lineup and went more in the cold wave direction). Later in the decade new bands and solo artists came into the picture, like Madame, T.Love, Tilt, Lech Janerka (formerly of Klaus Mitffoch), Kult, 1984, Variete, One Million Bulgarians, Rendez-Vous, Moskwa, Armia and Bielizna – all having their own style, but rooted in new wave and punk. Some of them, although already successful in the 80's, would have to wait till the next decade to show their full potential on record (Armia is a good example).



    Mainstream rock and pop rock was also developing. The biggest stars were Perfect, Lady Pank, Budka Suflera (their 80's albums are quite different from the progressive works of the 70's), Rezerwat, Lombard, Bajm, Banda i Wanda, Oddział Zamknięty and later in the decade also Sztywny Pal Azji, Obywatel G.C. (alias for Grzegorz Ciechowski, former leader of Republika), Róże Europy and Kobranocka. More electronic approach to pop was represented by Kombi, Klincz, Kapitan Nemo, the more dance-oriented Papa Dance and female singers Urszula and Izabela Trojanowska who both collaborated with Budka Suflera in the early 80's.

    Budka Suflera


    Other styles explored included blues rock and Southern rock (Dżem, Tadeusz Nalepa of Breakout, Krzak, Kasa Chorych, Martyna Jakubowicz, Recydywa, Obstawa Prezydenta), reggae (Izrael, Daab), hard rock and metal (Azyl P, Fatum, Hammer, Kat, TSA, Turbo, Wolf Spider), progressive rock (Exodus, RSC) and electronic instrumental music (Marek Biliński, Władysław Komendarek). There were, of course, some artists that could not be easily classified into a genre; a good example is Voo Voo.

    The eighties were an incredibly creative period in Polish popular music, impossible to cover at once in a short article. Ironically, when at the end of the decade Poland became a democratic country, this was not reflected in the improved quality of Polish music. It opened, however, new possibilities of development for the artists and the music market.

    [img width=700 height=504]http://5.s.dziennik.pl/pliki/4307000/4307547-bajm1982-900-648.jpg” />

    Some significant LPs of the decade (excluding compilations, split by musical style):

    New Wave / Punk
    Brygada Kryzys – Brygada Kryzys (1982, dubbed "Black Album" because of the cover)
    Porter Band – Helicopters (1980)
    Maanam – Maanam (1980), Nocny patrol (1983)
    Republika – Nowe sytuacje (1983), Nieustanne tango (1984)
    Klaus Mitffoch – Klaus Mitffoch (1984)
    Aya RL – Aya RL (1986, dubbed "Red Album" because of the cover)
    Dezerter – Underground Out Of Poland (1987), Dezerter / Kolaboracja (1988)
    KSU – Pod prąd (1989)
    Siekiera – Nowa Aleksandria (1986, the 'cold wave' album), Na wszystkich frontach świata (2008, CD reissue of demo & live recordings of the band's punk incarnation from 1984)
    Lech Janerka – Historia podwodna (1986)
    Kult – Posłuchaj to do ciebie (1987), Spokojnie (1988)
    T. Love – Wychowanie (1989)
    Tilt – Czad Kommando Tilt (1989)
    Mainstream Rock / Pop Rock / Pop
    Perfect – Perfect (1982), UNU (1983), Live (1983)
    Lady Pank – Lady Pank (1983), Ohyda (1984), Tacy sami (1988)
    Budka Suflera – Za ostatni grosz (1981), Czas czekania – czas olśnienia (1983)
    Rezerwat – Rezerwat (1983), Serce (1987)
    Lombard – Śmierć dyskotece (1982), Live (1983), Wolne od cła (1984), Szara maść (1984), Anatomia (1985)
    Bajm – Bajm (1984), Martwa woda (1985), Chroń mnie (1986)
    Banda i Wanda – Banda i Wanda (1984)
    Oddział Zamknięty – Oddział Zamknięty (1984), Reda nocą (1985)
    Morawski, Waglewski, Nowicki, Hołdys – Świnie (1985)
    Sztywny Pal Azji – Europa i Azja (1987)
    Obywatel G.C. – Obywatel G.C. (1987), Tak, Tak (1988)
    Róże Europy – Stańcie przed lustrami (1988)
    Kobranocka – Sztuka jest skarpetką kulawego (1988)
    Kombi – Nowy rozdział (1984), Kombi 4 (1985)
    Klincz – Jak lodu bryła (1985)
    Kapitan Nemo – Kapitan Nemo (1986)
    Papa Dance – Papa Dance (1985), Poniżej krytyki (1986)
    Urszula – Urszula (1983), Malinowy król (1984)
    Izabela Trojanowska – Iza (1981)
    Other styles
    Dżem – Cegła (1985), Absolutely Live (1986), Zemsta nietoperzy (1987), Najemnik (1989)
    Tadeusz Nalepa – Sen szaleńca (1987)
    Krzak – Paczka (1983)
    Martyna Jakubowicz – Maquillage (1983), Bardzo groźna księżniczka i ja (1986)
    Izrael – Biada, biada, biada (1984), Nabij faję (1985)
    Daab – Daab (1986)
    Azyl P – Live (1984)
    Kat – 666 (1986), 38 Minutes of Life (1987)
    TSA – Live (1982), TSA (1982), Heavy Metal World (1984)
    Turbo – Dorosłe dzieci (1983), Kawaleria szatana (1986)
    Wolf Spider – Kingdom of Paranoia (1989)
    Exodus – The Most Beautiful Day (1980), Supernova (1982)
    RSC – RSC (aka Flyrock, 1983)
    Marek Biliński – Ogród króla świtu (1983), E=mc2 (1984)
    Voo Voo – Voo Voo (1986), Sno-powiązałka (1987)





    The nineties gave a push to the creativity in Poland’s pop scene. Some artists started working with the jazz history, others explored the folk and traditional roots. Also studio technique and production capabilities improved.

    Kayah, Renata Przemyk and Kora (without Maanam) started to release more sophisticated pop records. New on the scene were singers like Kasia Kowalska (former singer of Human and Fatum), Edyta Bartosiewicz, and Justyna Steczkowska who has a vocal range of 4 octaves. Groups like Varius Manx and Skankan mixed folklore with for instance rock, reggae and ska. More grunge like was the group Hey with singer Kasia Nosowska. This band would later on fill stadiums. Nosowska's would have a very experimental output later in the nineties. In 1994 Poland entered the Eurovision song contest for the first time. Performer was Edyta Górniak with the song To nie ja (That's Not Me) which ended second. The song turned out to be Edyta’s biggest hit and she still releases albums in Polish as well as in English, although not so succesful.

    [img width=700 height=437]http://cdn18.se.smcloud.net/t/photos/248857/kayah-i-rinke-czy-znowu-beda-razem.jpg” />

    Edyta Bartosiewicz

    Anata Lipnicka, one of the soloists of Varius Manx

    The Polish hip hop scene began in 1990. The first album by a Polish performer was East on the Mic by PM Cool Lee, which featured two songs in Polish. Lee was from Kielce, but Warsaw soon emerged as a center for hip hop, after KOLOR, a radio station, began broadcasting Kolor Shock, hosted by Bogna Świątkowska, Paul Jackson, an African American expatriate, Sylvia Opoku from London, and DJ Volt, whose crew, IKHZ, became performing stars in their own right in 1995. Volt also founded the first Polish independent hip hop label, Beat Records. Though the label didn't last long, it did introduce groups like Trzyha and Molesta. In Poznań, PH Kopalnia's Polski Rap – Zakazane Piosenki (Polish rap – Forbidden Songs). Now known as Liroy, the former PM Cool Lee released Albóóm in 1995, which included the hit Scyzoryk.

    Electronic dance music also got it’s foot between the polish door which resulted in the genre Disco Polo. It was derived from contemporary folk tunes and italo disco. The name itself was conceived by Sławomir Skręta from Blue Star as a replacement for an older term, piosenka chodnikowa ("sidewalk music") – which originated from the main means of distribution of its recordings – sidewalk stands on streets and bazaars. Queen of this genre was Magdalena Pańkowska aka Shazza. The songs Bierz co chcesz, Noc Róży, and Czego chcesz? (Why Do You Call Now?) were big hits in Poland. Other popular acts are Bayer Full and Topless. The genre got somewhat watered down at the end of the nineties due to the influence of international dancemusic.



    At the start of the millenium the influence of western and anglo saxon was evident in Poland. A lot of artist mirrored themselves to Anglo Saxon and German rapgroups and styles. Rap (especially gangster rap) grew rapidly in Poland. Paktofonika, Płomień 81 and Verba are popular hiphop acts. Breakbeats and jazz are being mixed by funky combo Polucjanci.

    The millenium also saw a return folk pop with combo’s like Brathanki and the Kapela Ze Wsi Warszawa (The Warszaw Village Band). The exploration of jazz, folklore and pop continued with singers like Anita Lipnicka, Kasia Stankiewicz  and Anna Maria Jopek. The last grew out to be a big star in Poland as well as a much loved jazz vocalist for established jazz musicians like Pat Metheny and Joe Lovano. True pop is made by the band Ich Troje, a group around singer, songwriter and extravagant performer Michał Wiśniewski.


    Anna Maria Jopek

    Rockmusic and alternative music also was made of coure. Groups like Lao Che and Trafika Dżajant mix funk, rock and reggae. Newcomers are rockband Feel who won the Bursztynowy Słowik (main award) as well as the People's Choice award at the 2007 Sopot International Song Festival. In that year they had a big hit with A gdy jest już ciemno (And when the dusk is here).

    The artists that started in the nineties (like Kayah, Gorniak and Steckowska) expanded their careers in the new millenium.












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