Sarolta Zalatnay: The Janis Joplin of Hungary

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005 @ 9:57 pm | Music

Via the always entertaining WFMU blog, I was able to hear about Sarolta Zalatnay’s Hadd Mondjam El, a rare, sought after piece of Eastern European funk-rock goodness from 1973.

I’ve previously written on my fascination with foreign language music here. My adventures around the musical world have unearthed a few gems worth constant, repeated listens — from a few early 60s tracks by Francoise Hardy to Dungen’s amazing discography.

So far I’ve listened to Hadd Mondjam El at least a dozen times in the last 24 hours alone — it’s that good. Sarolta has the pipes of Janis Joplin and her backing band can churn out a funky, heavy mix of early 70s rock inspired by the likes of Traffic (who toured Hungary in the 60s). For an album that came from behind the Iron Curtain in the early 1970s, this is some pretty sophisticated shit. Soulful, funky and with some great songs — it’s a shame that it’ll be bound to remain in obscurity.

This album, and many others from the same era of Hungarian rock, are sought and prized by the crate-digging community for its funky, wide open breaks. An original LP of Hadd Mondjam El can easily sell for over $100. There is no CD release that I know of, so you’ll need to turn to your favorite file sharing service (I recommend Soulseek).

Sarolta Zalatnay is Hungary’s most famous female pop singer, and is still a public figure today, albeit for controversial reasons. In 2001, at the age of 54, she posed nude in Hungarian Playboy (She’s hot. Check it out.) Currently, she’s serving a three-year prison sentence for fraud. If you thought American reality TV was bad, her last few days of freedom and subsequent prison furlough were the subject of a reality show on Hungary’s largest TV network.

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