One of the more interesting things I picked up at the Groove Merchant last month was this 7″ on Hungary’s Qualiton imprint.1 I only have a handful of Hungarian records, all of it prog-rock, but it’s always been an intriguing sound: strong rhythms, big horn sections, and usually a drummer playing their ass off.

Here’s the single I got at the GM:

Atlasz: Töröld le a könnyeidet
From 7″ (Quality, 1970). Also on Töröld Le a Könnyeidet!

Before Cool Chris even played it for me, he asked, “doesn’t this sound like ‘Kashmere’?” and indeed, the bridge part does sound quite a bit like the bridge part of “Kashmere.” Coincidene? I’d have to guess so since I’m having a hard time imagining that a copy of a Kashmere Stage Band’s album made its way from TX out to Budapest in the late 1960s. But stranger things have happened.2

In any case, the sheer sound of the single had me hooked: hard, swinging funk, lyrics I don’t understand but clearly sung with some soulful flair, and of course, those drums. I wanted to learn more and through the magic of Google Translate, here’s what I could glean.

Atlasz formed in the mid 1960s, lead by songwriter and singer Francis Flamm. They have the reputation – at least on one site – of being Hungary’s first soul band. I have no way of confirming that but I like the idea. The group’s recording career lasted through the early 1970s at least, during which time they seemed to exclusively record singles but enough to eventually fill up a 17 track anthology.

Digging deeper into their catalog and my initial curiosity only deepened; their best songs are prig-rock at its bet, with a blend of folk, jazz and soul influences all mixed in. Even, on this cute, a little funky flute, ala Harold Alexander.

Atlasz: A kezem zsebre dugom
From Töröld Le a Könnyeidet! (Hungaroton, 2001)

  1. Like a lot of Eastern European labels, the cover art for their records were great. I love this stuff.
  2. I once found this album for sale online at a store based in the United Arab Emirates. I’m not saying that’s stranger than “Kashmere” making it ways to Hungary but it’s still a good, random story.