Every month, Kafakdesk explores Central Europe’s rich folk and pop cultures to present some of the region’s most popular tunes and beats… that you might never have heard of. This month, Pál Zwickl takes us to Hungary and the early 1970’s with Generál‘s now famous song, Csöngess be hozzám jóbarát!
In the early years of the 1970s in Hungary, just like in almost every European country during that time, so-called beat-rock music prevailed in mainstream and underground pop music. Taking into account the increasing accessibility of foreign music in the country, many Hungarian bands started mixing and matching various musical styles and genres. One band in particular, whose repertoire ranged from disco music to psychedelic rock, made their huge mark on the country’s music scene and its members became determining figures in the region’s musical history – they were called Generál, the first band from a socialist country to top a Western European chart (in the Netherlands).
The band went through countless changes in terms of line-up during their short career which covered only 8-9 years and its members ended up having an immense influence on Hungarian pop music. The drummer, János Solti and the guitarist, János Karácsony, went on to become members of the famous Locomotive GT band – which continues to influence Hungarian bands today, like Ivan & The Parazol. Generál’s first singer, Sándor Révész, was the founding member of the hard rock formation Piramis. Guitarist Tibor Tátrai played in almost every influential rock band of the last decades, while Charlie Horváth, the other lead singer, well-known for his gritty voice, ended up having an outstanding solo-career. For his part, Mátyás Várkonyi, who founded the band and was an almost consistent member, contributed to the creation of the Rock Színház (Hungarian Rock Theatre) where he worked as a musical manager and later became its director – in 1981, he wrote the first Hungarian “rock opera” Starmakers.
While Generál have also written heavier, more progressive songs, on more serious subjects, their most famous hit remains ‘Csöngess be hozzám jóbarát!’ (Ring my doorbell good friend) which propelled them to national fame. The cheerful tune with its chirpy lyrics about the lifestyle and mentality of the young generation in those days, helped create a whole image around the band. The song had a significant impact on later Hungarian pop-rock bands. Its spirit and feel-good feeling channelled through the lyrics are still perceptible in today’s youth, regardless what kind of music they listen to…
KafkaTunes of the Month:
March: Małgośka, by Maryla Rodowicz
February: Bažant na víne, by Miroslav Žbirka