Dusevni Hrob

Greatest Hits 1977-81

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First released on cassette in the early '90s and reissued on CD with 15 minutes of extra material in 2003, this album culls tracks from three of Dusevni Hrob's albums, Dusevni Hrob III, Memento Mori, and Za Málo Penez, all recorded between 1977 and 1981. Sound quality is often bad, as these tracks were recorded in home studios, far from the Soviet's eye, and circulated on zamisdat tapes. But the group's energy, rebellion, and spirit of invention are worth a listen. Unlike the recordings of Extempore, Psí Vojáci, Svehlík, or Národní Trída, Dusevni Hrob's albums didn't encapsulate the spirit of the Czech underground or redefine the boundaries of rock music. One must admit though that their take on the punk ethos -- from rebellious energy to D.I.Y. attitude -- is certainly different than what took place in England at the same time. John Black Sahara and Dr. Zawrach (and their guests, including Extempore's Mikolás Chadima) deliver their simple melodies with a certain irony that actually hides deeply felt passion, and the arrangements are as inventive as the makeshift instrumentation allowed (reminiscent in that of the faux-naif sounds of early ZNR). "Zpoved' Sikovného Gaucika" takes Faust's recipe for Krautrock and delivers it raw. "Za Málo Penez (Verse 1)" also stands out as an epochal rock song. A bizarre artifact of Czech underground rock under the Soviet regime, Greatest Hits 1977-81 might appeal to fans of the strangest side of Plastic People of the Universe. Mikolás Chadima completists will also want to hear his contribution (which extends to more than mere guest, but also inspiration on Za Málo Penez).