Seventies Bookmark and Share

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.

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).

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)

(thanks to Alex Prządka for extending this chapter and adding the album list)


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