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Ján Lehotský: 16 April 1947, Bratislava

Originally Modus was formed in 1968 in Bratislava as a cover band playing Beatles, Stones and other Western sixties material. Initial bandmembers were a.o. Jan Baláž and Miroslav Žbirka. In 1972 Ján Lehotský, fresh out of Bratislava’s conservatory, joined the band. He already had some experience as bandmember of bands like the Ľubo Belák sextet and Gentlemen. Gradually, Ján became the bands leader and under his guidance they started playing original Slovak popsongs. However, the band’s lineup stayed unstable and the band even stopped excisting for a while all together in 1973. In 1976 Ján  even released a solo single called ‘Velky sen mora / preteky s laskou’.

It was Žbirka that brought the band together again in 1976 in a line-up featuring Baláž, Lehotský, Ľudovít Nosko (drums) and Ľubomír Stankovský (bass). Lehotský also invited a female singer to the band he discovered, Marika Gombitová. She briefly had been a member of the rock group Profiles at the start of the seventies. Under Lehotský guidance the band started writing new material and joined the contest of the Bratislavská lýra in 1977, which they won with the song ‘Úsmev‘ ('Smile').

This would have been a good start for a whole album but at this point the band lost it’s rhythm section. In 1978 bassist Laco Lučenič and drummer Dusan Hajek were their replacement. In 1978 they participated again in the Lýry with the song ‘Dievčatá’ ('Girls') and in 1979 with ‘Malý veľký vlak’ ('Little big train'). Finally this gave enough basis for a whole album simply called ‘Modus’. Their popularity grew fast and at the threshold of the eighties Modus was the most popular pop-rock act in Czechoslovakia. They even toured heavily in other Eastern Bloc countries (Bulgaria, DDR, Yugoslavia, Hungary, USSR, Poland), as well as the USSR friendly Asian countries. But in 1981 ill fate struck again starting with Gombitová getting into a car accident and unable to perform. Later that year she and Žbirka would leave the band to pursue individual solo-careers and Baláž to form the band Élan.

Lehotský picked up the pieces and recorded ‘Záhradná kaviareň’ without much success. The former members and groups like Élan and Peter Nagy’s Indigo started to surpass the band in popularity. Lacking a female singer essential to the Modus sound Lehotský recruited young Marián Greksa who was a former member of the just disbanned group Demikát (a group formed around guitarist Andrei Šeban). She would stay with the band for two albums but left again in 1986 to record a solo album called ‘Demikát’ with Šeban and Baláž. Later on she would have a rather successful musical career in the nineties. For the last stretch Ivana Novotna took the position of singer and the band delivered three more albums before Lehotský decided it was time to call it quits in 1988

After the revolution in 1991 Lehotský was asked to reform the Opus Publishing company to western standards and he became a scout for new Slovak talent. In 1992 he released a solo album simply called ‘Lehotský and friends’ which Haber, Grigorov, Žbirka and new singer Gabika Škrabákovou. Four years later he released the album 'Balíček tónov’ (Naked touches). In 2007 he celebrated his sixtieth birthday with a compilation of his best compositions.

On the web:

- Website dedicated to Modus : lehotsky-modus.szm.com/

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

Il était une fois (France)

What do we think:

DB: It’s not very often a band that proved itself so influential on the local pop/rock scene is so completely being forgotten on the internet. Still, that’s just the case with Modus. While the artists that were former members of the group all have at least some traceable bio’s and weblogs devoted to them above bio of Modus turned out to be quit an effort. Only the Slovak section of Wikipedia has a small page about them and the usually quit complete Rateyourmusic site only features reviews on their English languaged albums. (Yes indeed they translated three of their albums in English…ugh). It’s weird since Modus was right at the heart of Slovak pop in the eighties. Almost everyone that was someone in that music scene at that time had been involved at one time or another with Lehotsky’s band. Although it must be said that the solocareers are usually more artistically daring then their Modus years. But time has been harsh on Modus devaluating them to an eighties novelty that only Slovaks know. Too pop for the international (prog)rock collector, too serious to be camp and perhaps too embedded in the communist era. OK, it may sound a bit soft for modern standards but musically they knew how to compose and play. Hope we can contribute to a rehabilitation of sorts.


Modus - 1979

♪♪♪ - Balíček snov (Packet of dreams)-1980

99 zápaliek (99 matches) -1981

Záhradná kaviareň (Garden Cafe) -1983

Najlepšie dievčatá (Top Girls) - 1984

Každý niečo hrá (Everyone just plays) - 1985

♪♪♪ - Vlaky s rokmi (Trains in years) - 1986

Zrkadlo rokov (Mirror years) - 1987

♪♪♪ - Keď sa raz oči dohodnú (Once the eyes of the agreement) - 1988

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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