Early recordings (1962-1966) of rock and roll and soul music by legend of Polish Rock - Czeslaw Niemen.
NIEMEN CZESLAW Sen o Warszawie
Label: Polskie Nagrania, 1996 Catalogue No: PNCD-352 Format: CD
Teach me how do twist
Tylko nie mow mi o tym
Wiem, ze nie wrocisz
Czy mnie jeszcze pamietasz
Czas jak rzeka
Jak mozna wierzyc tylko słowom
Ach jakie oczy
Ptaki spiewaja - kocham
Nie badz taki szybki Bitels
Zabawa w ciuciubabke
Hippy Hippy Shake
Stoje w oknie
Czy wiesz o tym ze
Sen o Warszawie
Byc moze i ty
Hej dziewczyno, hej
Zabawa w ciuciubabke
Sen o Warszawie
Czeslaw Niemen (the real name is Czeslaw Juliusz Wydrzycki) was born in Stare Wasiliszki (Old Vasilishki), a village in Byelorussia, Soviet Union, in 1939. In 1958 he has repatriated to Poland. His scenical name is a pseudonym taken after the name of the river Niemen. Debuted as a rock and soul singer in the early 1960’s. He recorded ”Dziwny jest ten swiat” (Strange Is This World) as a major Polish protest song in 1967, and was an early pioneer of psychedelic music in communist Poland in the late 60’s. He recorded three albums with the band Akwarele, as well as later works with Enigmatic, Grupa Niemen, and Aerolit. His first self-acclaimed progressive work was entitled “Enigmatic”, and was released in 1969. The most notable song from it was “Bema pamieci zalobny - rapsod” (A Mournful Rhapsody, in memory of Jozef Bem, a Polish solider who served as a Polish Army general in the Polish War of Independence (November Uprising). Like “Rhapsody”, many of the other songs from “Enigmatic” were based Polish folk poetry. During his progressive period Niemen played keyboards extensively, including a Hammond, and later a mellotron and finally a Moog synthesizer. In the early 70’s Niemen recorded three albums for CBS International (Schaelplatten), including a 1974 release entitled Mourner's Rhapsody with Jan Hammer and Rick Laird of Mahavishnu Orchestra, electric violin and saxophonist Michal Urbaniak of Fusion, bassist the late Seldon Powell of the Buddy Rich Band, and session pianist the late Don Grolnick. The album featured a fifteen minute version of “A Mournful Rhapsody”. In the latter 70’s Niemen’s musical work tended more toward jazz/fusion, and even electronica. He released seven additional albums and a retrospective collection before he passed of cancer in 2004.
text courtesy ofo Bob (ClemofNazareth) and progarchives
Why has Czeslaw Wydrzycki, better known by his artistic name Niemen, become a living legend in Poland? His biography has become part of the political history of Poland under communism, and his behavior and style of dress have become part of pop culture. This personality is matched with music composed and performed by Niemen, music that has always differed from the stereotypical songs heard on the radio.
The artistic path he has followed can be compared to that of the Beatles. Put simply, Niemen revolutionized singing in Poland. He has gained enormous popularity and has always sought more difficult forms, even when some listeners found them difficult to understand. He has limited his public appearances to focus on composing pieces far removed from the world of commercial production.
Niemen was born in Stare Wasyliszki, a Polish village that lies in territory that is now Belarus. In 1958 he found himself in Pomerania as a repatriated Pole from Poland's pre-World War II eastern territories. He went to musical high school in Gdańsk, and it was there that he started his career performing in the To Tu cabaret.
Niemen's first recordings, which showcase a high, pleasing, warm voice, met the expectations of that time. In the late 1950s and early `60s, Latin American songs were popular in Poland, and other styles didn't gain official approval. For example, the first rhythm and blues band was dissolved by the communist authorities because it provoked audience reactions that were considered too spontaneous. Jazz was also deemed suspect, as it was imported from America.
"I sang that [Latin American] music because I liked it, and I didn't know any other music yet," says Niemen. "Besides, I had an appropriate, `sweet voice' for it. Later, when I became fascinated with Ray Charles, I changed [my technique]." Niemen says that his efforts to sound more like Ray Charles resulted in a "hoarse, seasoned" voice, which he has used ever since. "Today I would not be able to sing anything in a smooth and sweet way," he says.
In 1962 Niemen became one of the soloists in the Niebiesko-Czarni band. From then on, his career developed at lightning speed. He recorded his first hits, "Wiem, ze nie wrócisz" (I Know You Won't Be Back) and "Czy mnie jeszcze pamietasz?" (Do You Still Remember Me?), the latter of which was performed by Marlene Dietrich in 1964. A year later at the Rennes festival, he won two prizes, and as a result, he recorded with Michel Colombier's orchestra. One of the songs, titled "Sen o Warszawie" (A Dream of Warsaw) was a hit in 1966. At that time, Niemen founded his first band, Akwarele.
His breakthrough came with his performance of "Dziwny jest ten swiat" (Strange Is This World) at the festival in Opole. "Dziwny jest ten swiat/ gdzie jeszcze wciaz/ miesci sie wiele zla/ i dziwne jest to/ ze od tylu lat czlowiekiem/ gardzi czlowiek" (Strange is this world/ which still holds/ so much evil/ and strange is it that/ for so long a man/ has despised another man) he sang to critics who disliked his singing, clothes and long hair. The song was the first in Polish rock to be so sincere and thought-provoking. Niemen shocked listeners with his means of expression, which verged on shouting. And Niemen was shocking in other ways, too: In Opole, he performed in flower-patterned trousers and a striped jacket.
In the late 1960s, big beat, the Polish version of rock, was an innocuous style, very different from that of The Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix. Polish bands sang banal, optimistic texts, musicians wore suits, festival organizers ordered performers to wear their hair short, and pseudo-folk was promoted. "My style of working has from the very start been linked with my behavior and manner of dress," said Niemen in 1974. "I did indeed wear extravagant clothes because I felt best in them... I hate convention." It's not surprising then that Niemen came to be idolized by youth and that Dziwny jest ten swiat was the first album in Poland to go gold.
The artist made further strides in 1970 when he recorded Niemen Enigmatic, which included a monumental, nearly 15-minute piece "Bema pamieci zalobny rapsod" (A Mournful Rhapsody in Memory of Bem) with lyrics based on a poem by one of the most important and inventive Polish poets, Cyprian Kamil Norwid. The song can be compared to great works by Western bands. Its sound, according to music expert Wieslaw Królikowski, brings to mind the ambiance of Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets" or Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Due to his originality and innovation, Niemen, who was formerly perceived as a rebel, became a subject of Polish classes in schools.
"Jednego serca" (Of One Heart), based on a poem by another outstanding Polish poet, Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, reveals a turn toward jazz. Even more clearly, a jazz influence, with elements of free jazz, can be seen in the albums by Grupa Niemen. These albums were recorded with well-known Polish instrumentalists, including double-bass player Helmut Nadolski and trumpeter Andrzej Przybielski. In the same period, Niemen also worked with famous violinist Michal Urbaniak.
In 1972 and 1973 Niemen was linked to the CBS (now Sony) label, with which he recorded three albums. It was even rumored that he was to become the singer in the renowned group Blood Sweat & Tears. In 1974 he recorded Mourner's Rhapsody, an album with Jan Hammer and Risk Laird from John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. Years later, asked about his rather unsuccessful attempts to win over the Western market, Niemen said, "I was quite stubborn; I didn't want to bend to overly commercial offers. And later I thought, why should those abroad bother with some guy named Niemen from Poland when they have thousands of their own [Niemens]?"
In 1971 Niemen bought his first, very basic, synthesizer. Two or three years later he already was creating loops, the repeated musical sequences that today are the basis for techno music, as well as other styles. In the mid-1970s he concentrated on composing illustrative music for theater plays and films and started to perform with electronic instruments. In 1981, when martial law was introduced in Poland, Niemen suspended his concerts and only returned to the stage four years later.
Despite infrequent appearances, he has spent the last decade working laboriously. He recorded Terra deflorata, an album with lyrics inspired by Norwid's poetry and overall sound inspired by Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. Although it was not promoted, the album has sold more than 100,000 copies. Niemen also reworks his earlier recordings on the computer; the series Niemen From the Beginning included 12 albums. "Dziwny jest ten swiat" was the main musical motif of Solidarity Election Action's election campaign in 1997. The artist is also working on new music, including a piece titled "Piekny jest ten swiat" (Beautiful Is This World), that he would like to release on the album whose working title is Swiat nieodkryty (The Undiscovered World).
Niemen has become an unquestioned authority in the Polish music community. His music has run the gamut from catchy hits to avant-garde, and he has pioneered the use of computers and electronic instruments. He was a youth idol who, in time, moved away from superficial popularity. He rarely has performed on the radio, and he has appeared on TV even less frequently. He has become the Great Absentee, somewhat forgotten in these times of video clips and hit charts. However, one thing is sure: The release of Niemen's new recordings, which have been 10 years in the making, will be marked not only as a musical event but also as a sociological phenomenon.