Monday, April 28, 2008


Inspecting my local charity shops had become something of a chore of late. The high yield of collectables that appeared a few years ago had dried up. So wandering into the Cancer Research while the girlfriend had her eyebrows trimmed was more a force of habit than an urge directed by excitement. The shop had never been that generous with goodies, my last find being Cambodian Rocks Volume 1 for £1; cheap but not rare. Few 7" 's but a reasonable array of 12" 's, most of which had fled eastern Europe around the time of the Prague spring (1968). I ignored the parade of Polish artists and the classical box set which I suspect was planted there simply to beef up the skimpy selection. Suddenly I was confronted by six men with radiant smiles wearing suspiciously folky clothes. They were trapped in a narrow passage in what appeared to be a hamlet in Greece or some country where men with violins lurk in corners in restaurants. My attention was captured only by their name, Omega Red Star, which nullified the naffness of the cover. Sleevenotes on the back advanced the idea that they offered something new to pop music. Judged by their attire could one gainsay that declaration? They had toured Britain in May 1968 and left western musicians bewildered in their wake. I'm sure the myriad styles of the Beatles' White Album was due to thier influence. And they came from Hungary. That last fact, proudly emblazoned on the front of the sleeve, was why I parted with £1.
Belgium is often cited as a country where no one of any import was born. Maybe so if one discounts Rene Magritte, James Ensor, Jacques Brel and Audrey Hepburn. In comparison let's consider Hungary. Do any names spring to mind? Mr. Biro and Franz Liszt. Quite frugal unless you google.
Omega Red Star, what a musical goulash. Prog folk, toytown-psych pop. If anything reeked of rarity this did. Crestfallen communists take note, this piece of Hungarian aural theatre last seen on ebay securing a capital sum of £130. Mono version of course, which my copy happens to be.