Welcome back to The Public Records’ last album of the week for the twenty-teens. We decided to make this one a doozy and turn you onto to a great artist and some superb historical music preservation. Time may be marching on, fads changing, and new genres being created, but skill and ability will always remain a constant. Just because something is old, does not mean that we can just dismiss the badassness of it. Today, we’re going to get down and dirty with one of those bad asses of history; the Finders Keepers compilation of Sarolta Zalatnay (Finders Keepers Records, 2007).
Sarolta Zalatnay was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1947. She began studying piano at a very young age and started her career at the age of 13 under the stage name ‘Cini’. By the time she had reached the age of 18, she had honed her abilities enough to come in second at a singing competition held by Hungary’s national TV channel. This put her in the public’s eye and she was picked up by two groups to be their vocalist – Bergendy Együttes a jazz ensemble and Metró a rock band. Working in two different styles early on gave her a range vocally and perspective musically that many of her contemporaries couldn’t hold a candle to; and somehow despite the Communist regime’s opposition to these two genres, neither group faced much backlash.
She began working with other groups (one of them Omega we also have on our shelves) and because Hungary’s government was fairly lax with its brand of Communism, Sarolta was able to tour internationally with ease. In 1968-69 she did just that and had an English tour where she met and briefly dated The BeeGees’ Maurice Gibb and saw Janis Joplin perform. Joplin had a profound impact on her and after her return to Hungary she was ready to shed her teen popstar persona and move into the grittier, heavier world of psychedelic hard rock.
She won the tv contest again in 1971 and by now had grasped a tight understanding of celebrity. She was working with many different backing groups to create new sounds and was constantly changing her style and publicizing her ‘private’ life. This made her extremely famous and she was soon picked up by the film industry as well. However, her level of business never detracted from her product and her music was slowly gaining international success – in fact she made history when a single of hers sold over 2 million copies in Russia alone! However, Hungary was Communist and even though the party there was lenient, it was still Communist and the party, so her chances of extreme international fame never truly materialized.
After the fall of the party, Sarolta became more politically active and worked as a board member for the Felicity Party and as the head of the Hungarian Animal Protection and Nature Foundation. Her music was forgotten as more modern trends became popular until 2007 when this compilation was released. Not only did it revive her career in Hungary, it brought her to the attention of international critics who were thoroughly juxtaposition of multiple western styles with Hungarian traditional vocal placement.
Now on to the folks who compiled this album; Finders Keepers. The early 2000s saw two smaller record label execs in England team up to bring largely unknown but extremely awesome to the wider public. Over the years of researching and digging, Finders Keepers grew and grew as more people from around the globe and in all walks of the musical world added what they knew to collective mind hive of this label in order to bring us lost tunes that we would most likely never stumble across at our local record store. Here at The Public Records, we highly recommend you snag any releases of theirs you see.
Sarolta Zalatnay will best enjoyed with glasses of Fernet-Branca on the rocks.