If you were to tear a hundred pages from Pamela Des Barre’s ‘I’m With The Band’, a fistful of anecdotes from ‘The Abba Story’, and the most titillating tales from Marianne Faithfull’s biography and staple them all together you may well find a mutant monograph which is brave enough to hold a flickering candle to the story of Sarolta Zalatnay.
The protective packaging of this, first ever, compendium of Zalatnay’s crown jewels would not provide anything close to the adequate ink space for a worthy account of her life in the Hungarian public eye (which has previously and periodically been documented in a series of autobiographies which are unlikely to ever benefit an English language translation).
After ten successful albums, drawing together a veritable who’s-who of Hungarian progressive and psychedelic rock and utilizing some of the toughest dancefloor friendly metronomic drum breaks and a hard funk-rock sound years ahead of their Western European counterparts, the decline of communism in Hungary Western music, literature and cinema predictably infiltrated Hungarian culture overnight and the young record buying public began to turn their backs on home grown music and many faithful Eastern European artists were demoted to mum and dad’s record shelf like musical photo albums. Don’t worry though – Gal Costa is a huge name in Portugal but not many Portuguese people have heard ‘Tuareg’. The youth of Hungary certainly know who Zalatnay is… but how many of them have heard that break at the start of ‘Hadd Mondjam El’?
All of Zalatnay’s LPs have remained unknown outside of her native country. On a global scale, Zalatnay’s releases sit alongside ‘Did You Give The World Some Love Today Baby’ by Sweden’s Doris Svensson, Marta Kubisova’s ‘Songy A Balady’ from Czechoslovakia, as well as early LPs by Greece’s Elpida, Poland’s Maryla Radowics and a host of French recordings from France Gall and the likes of Lulu and Pet Clarke in the UK.
“Beware, Sarolta Zalatnay is addictive!” And lucky for us, on her travel through the woods she left us a lot of shiny white pebbles…