Echt!

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A Czech rock group that came out of the Velvet Revolution of the late '80s, Echt! (not to be confused with a couple of German-speaking groups by the same name) plays a kind of pub rock similar in essence…
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A Czech rock group that came out of the Velvet Revolution of the late '80s, Echt! (not to be confused with a couple of German-speaking groups by the same name) plays a kind of pub rock similar in essence to the Pogues. Its originality resides in a heavier side to the music and singer Karel Malik's low vocal range. The group has been active mostly since the late '90s, releasing albums on the Czech label Black Point.

Echt! has its roots in the underground pub Klamovka in late-'70s Prague. There, musicians and artists met and were briefly relieved from the oppression of the Communist regime. That's where Malik, a saxophonist and singer, learned the basics of rock music. He put together Echt! in 1988 as pub rock was developing into a style in the last days of Czechoslovakia. The group quickly attracted an impressive following that included ex-members of the legendary Czech protest rock group Plastic People of the Universe. Right after the Velvet Revolution in November 1989, Echt! was invited, along with Pulnoc (a group of ex-PPU musicians), to perform in Paris at the opening of an Andy Warhol exhibition playing alongside a re-formed Velvet Underground. The event attracted some attention in European music circles and soon the group started to tour Germany, Austria, and France. Malik and friends recorded a single with Pulnoc in 1990 and contributed a track to the 1993 compilation CD Ujezd, but the impetus wore down.

For the next three or four years, Echt! lay dormant as half of its members got involved in Hubda Praha, a group that gained local success and won the Rock and Pop music award for Best Band in 1996. A year later, Malik called back his troupes to re-form the group, which stabilized in the lineup of ex-PPU Jirí "Kaba" Kabes (guitar/violin), Vladimír Zatloukal (guitar), Jirí Jelínek (bass), and Jirí Michálek (drums), with Malik writing most of the music and lyrics. They recorded their first album, Horky Piti ("Bitter drink"), released in 1997. Smutny Veci followed a year later. Lineup changes slowed down the group's career, but Je Mi Krásne ("I feel great"), which signalled Malik's desire to take a departure from the Pogues' sound, came out in 2001.