The Public Records 5/10/19
Hello Public Recordeers,
Welcome to our first album of the week from our Euronation collection. We’ll be starting towards the center of the continent for this one. The band selected for this week is Omega, a prog rock group formed in 1962 in Budapest, Hungary.
The group was founded by sevveral multi-instrumentalists; László Benkő – keyboards/flute/trumpet/vocals, János Kóbor – vocals, Győző Bánkúti – trombone, Tamás Künsztler (hotdogs anyone?) – percussion, Péter Láng – saxophone, Ferenc Tornóczky – guitar, and István Varsányi – bass. However, this didn’t last too long as Ferenc Tornóczky and Győző Bánkúti left after a few months and Péter Láng was gone by 1963. András Kovacsics joined as a replacement guitar.
During the next few years more personnel changes would be made until they had a decently stable line up by 1967. By this time Tamás Künsztler was gone along with a short lived member, László Harmat – saxophone; and had been replaced with József Laux – percussion, Tamás Somló – saxophone, and Mária Wittek – vocals.
The drama just wouldn’t stop. As the band was gearing up to record its first album, the keyboardist and vocalist – Gábor Presser. This led to a founding member, István Varsányi’s, and Mária Wittek’s departures; so Tamás Mihály became the bass player. Later that year András Kovacsics quit and was replaced by György Molnár. Not to be outdone, Tamás Somló, decided it was best to do his own thing and was gone the next year. (wow – wouldn’t want to be that group’s biograhper)
In 1968, Omega, released their debut album. They were now a sextet and comprised of László Benkő, János Kóbor, József Laux, Tamás Mihály, György Molnár, and Gábor Presser. Their first album, Trumpeter Freddy and the Terrible People, and the following two; 10,000 Steps (1969) and Night Highway (1970) were heavily influenced by The Beatles. In 1968 they also released their first English record Omega Red Star from Hungary.
However, stability just wasn’t in the cards for Omega and in 1971 both József Laux and Gábor Presser quit to form their own group Locomotiv GT (which Tamás Somló also joined). This meant nothing to Omega and they just did what they always did, adapted and recruited with Ferenc Debreczeni – percussion. This seemed to do it because until 2015, this was Omega.
Between 1972 and 1987, the group released another ten albums. In a bid to gain more international attention, many of these were both in English and Hungarian. This trick seemed to work as their 1969 song ‘Gyöngyhajú lány’ or ‘The Girl with Pearly Hair’ became and international hit with the Scorpions covering it as ‘White Dove’ and Kanye West sampling it with Frank Ocean in ‘New Slaves’.
Our album of the week is Omega’s tenth ‘Az Arc (The Face)’. It was released in 1981 on the Hungarian label Pepita: SLPX 17690. Az Arc is very funky album. The title track, A3, is synthply out of this world. A very good example of space rock and one to be enjoyed with a nice sipped shot of Laird’s Apple Jack in low lighting.