This story surprises many people. How did it happen that ska found its way to Poland already in the 1960s, when we were still behind the Iron Curtain? The first album in this style of music was recorded by the most popular Polish vocal group of the time, Alibabki. Their debut EP, “W Rytmach Jamajca Ska”, is cult among local rude girls & boys. It’s a pity that the story didn’t turn out as in the lyrics of one of the songs and Jamaican music by the Vistula river didn’t become as popular as twist. Half a century later, Poles still don’t know what ska is, and even Alibabki themselves have forgotten about their flirtation with Jamaican culture.
In 2015, reggae promoter Janusz “Yasman” Kusz and music journalist Mirosław “Maken” Dzięciołowski decided to remind people about that story and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of “W Rytmach Jamajca ska”. This is how the Tribute to Alibabki project was born.
Alibabki (a not only them) sing with The Bartenders
Yasman and Maken invited Warsaw’s The Bartenders to work on the project. Apparently, at the first meeting, they heard from the musicians that they are the only ones in the country able to implement such an idea. Who else would be capable to translate classic Polish popular songs into Jamaican rhythm?
Both sides learned from each other. The Bartenders watched the legends of popular music at work (if someone was to record a hit song in Poland in the 60s and 70s he would in most cases invite Alibabki to sing the backing vocals). Their older friends were eager to get to know the Jamaican culture and the Polish reggae environment.
The project also included vocalists representing various generations. Some sing reggae on a daily basis (such as Dawid Porta, I-Grades, Wojciech “Brodi” Turbiarz, Earl Jacob, and Junior Stress) or were in some way related to this genre (Andrzej Krzywy, K.A.S.A.).
The first show under the name Tribute to Alibabki, which took place in 2015 in Warsaw, was a big event for the Polish reggae scene. The audience warmly welcomed Alibabki’s hits in ska and reggae versions and the stars of the evening performed “Wash-Wash-Ska” live. A year later, the artists performed at Męskie Granie festival in Żywiec. Alibabki accompanied by The Bartenders re-recorded songs from their legendary debut EP, and the creators of the Tribute to Alibabki project promised that an album would be released soon. As it sometimes happens, “soon” stretched to several years, and after an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign, the topic died down. In the meantime, a sound postcard (a type of record typical in Poland during the communism era) with the “Już nie twist” song refreshed by the Bartenders, was released. The news about the successful conclusion of honoring Alibabki as the pioneers of Jamaican music in Poland didn’t reach us until July this year.
Jeśli nie udało się Wam w sobotę pojawić na festiwalu Męskie Granie w Żywcu i umknęła Wam internetowa transmisja, u nas możecie choć trochę podejrzeć, jak wyjątkowe było to wydarzenie. Po wszystkich reggae gościach na scenie pojawiły się same Alibabki i dały z siebie wszystko!
Opublikowany przez RudeMaker Poniedziałek, 29 sierpnia 2016
Tribute to Alibabki – record premiere
The first Polish ska record caught the interest of GAD Records, which specializes in reviving hard-to-reach or never-released domestic recordings from years ago.
“Tribute to Alibabki” is a double album. The first CD features Alibabki’s hits in ska and reggae versions. Vocalists invited to take part in the project, together with Yasman, chose songs from the group’s repertoire, although it happened that the final decision was made by the artists’ children. This was the case with Gutek, who sings “Wielka podróż Bolka i Lolka”, a song from a Polish animated movie for kids.
The second CD includes Alibabki’s debut “W Rytmach Jamajca Ska”, both the modern version recorded in 2016 and the remastered originals from 55 years ago. Previously unreleased other versions of the two ska songs recorded in the same year as the original EP are a unique bonus.
The album was mixed and mastered in Studio As One and supplemented with a richly illustrated booklet.
The premiere of such an album cannot take place without an occasional concert. On Sunday, August 16, The Bartenders and the guests who took part in the recording of “Tribute to Alibabki” will play at the Boogaloo Beach Bar in Warsaw. The concert starts at 8:30 p.m., but it’s worth coming at 6:00 p.m. for a conference with the creators and a DJ set presenting the record. You’ll find detailed information about the event on Facebook.
The vinyl version of “Tribute to Alibabki” is to be released in autumn. It will contain the songs of the second CD. There’s also a film in the making telling the story of the project.
Photos: press release