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Polkas For A Gloomy World

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 1, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

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Polka for a Gloomy World begins with "Hosa Dyna," an old European polka taken at a breakneck tempo. Near the end of the song, accordionist Carl Finch, the Brave Combo major-domo, shouts out, "Rock it, boys!" And the rest of the band does just that, proving once again that the ancient 2/4 Bohemian dance doesn't have to be a sleepy shuffle reserved for elderly aunts at wedding receptions. This album proves the polka can be every bit as invigorating as a Cajun two-step, another dance music rescued from wedding-reception hell. Because Brave Combo is based in Texas--the nexus where German and Czech immigrants passed the polka and its favorite weapons, the squeezebox and the saxophone, to the local Mexican immigrants--the band draws on both the Old World and New World versions of the music, both Eddie Blazonczyk's "Polka Chips Polka" and Los Cuatros Tejanos de Monterey's "Eloina's Marbles." In addition to the half dozen traditional European polkas, Finch has written "Flying Saucer," an oompah tribute to UFOs, and has added new words to the well-worn polka standard, "In Heaven, There Is No Beer." Over Barnes' revved-up clarinet figure, Finch bellows that not only is there no beer in heaven but there is no sex or drugs either, so we might as well enjoy ourselves here. And Brave Combo plows through the song as if there's no tomorrow. Geoffrey Himes
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 1, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B0000003KZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,443 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Smythe on May 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is a bit much for "standard" polka lovers like me, who usually go for Frankie Yankovic, Eddie Blazonczyk, Joey Miskulin, etc. Everybody performs "In Heaven There is No Beer", with some even adding "in heaven there is no wine, so we drink till we feel fine". But "in heaven there are no drugs, that's why we hang with thugs"? Hmm. Also on this CD are several traditional polkas played at breakneck speed, and a few waltzes and Tex-Mex numbers. It's the Dr. Demento of polkas. Try it, you'll like it.
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This is as good as it gets! Whimsical, yet musically adept, Brave Combo is one of the most enjoyable bands I know (both on record and especially on stage). If this music doesn't bring a smile to your face, then you must be an inanimate object! Your entire body responds to this music - supremely played dance and smile music. We have ALL of Brave Combo's albums - they are all wonderful. But, this is the favorite - it gets alot of airplay around the house - always elevating the mood and prompting uncontrollable and spontaneous outbursts of euphoria, dancing and rampant happiness. Get this one - your spirit and your feet will thank you every day. Thank you Brave Combo!
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Great fun! If you ask me, the title and cover art alone are worth the price of admission to this collection of polkas and waltzes in a variety of styles. Even the few slow tempo songs are delightful and well-done, and help you appreciate even more the frenetic pace of the uptempo numbers. Personally, I think they do better with the European-based material than with the Tex-Mex. Despite their home state (Texas), there are many other bands that perform that material better. But the arrangements, the energy, musical expertise, and ability to shift gears to different styles but still put their own stamp on the European tracks are seering and enervating. Brave Combo takes charts that are very difficult to play and make them sound easy. Highly recommended.
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If you didn't already think so, this album will convine you that polkas are FUN. Just like swing music, Irish jigs, and driving rock-and-roll, you just have to move your feet when Hosa Dyna gets going on the first cut. The merging of European and Mexican influences makes this a showcase for what makes polka music enjoyable irrespective of cultural origins. Some of the album is outright, straight-ahead, pedal to the metal polka (Potato Chip); some is a little odd ("Mystery Spot"); some is just for fun ("Flying Saucer"). Throw in one of the most beautiful waltzes ("Breslau") that you'd ever want to hear, and you'll play this over and over to cheer up your gloomy world.
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I love this album. When the weather is gloomy, or the political climate- this helps!

The styles range from traditional through world-beat, and I especially love the latter- it's given me a way of searching out other music that I really love.

Plus on gloomy days in the fall and winter- it's a day-brightener.

I love Brave Combo, and this is one of my favorites.
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This is the first album I have bought by Brave Combo and it certainly did not disappoint! Coming from a more traditional Chicago and Slovenian style Polka background, I wasn't sure how well I'd like a group like Brave Combo, but that was shattered with the first few notes of Hosa Dyna. I knew I'd heard the song before, but I couldn't remember where. A few weeks later, I discovered the same song going by the title "Od Krakowa Jade" and recorded by Li'l Wally in the mid 1940's. I never thought I'd hear this song done effectively with a Rock and Roll energy, but Brave Combo pulled it off without a hitch. The incredible thing about this band is that they can introduce such a modern energy and Alternative style diversity to a musical form like the Polka. Every song on the disk is a little different, but they all quickly became my favorites. This is a disk that will grow on you the more you play it. I can't think of a single reason not to recommend it most enthusiastically.
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Never have I wanted to listen to polka. After too many bad weading experiences, I swore it off. After listening to this album, and then continuing to buy more Brave Combo. There is no record collection complete without this album. Regardless of taste and styles, this will fitt in just fine. Very enjoyable after listening to it for 6 years.
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I've been greatly surprised when I first listen to this CD. It contains great polka songs from all over the world. It's a great introduction to the wonderful world of polka!
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