Marie Rottrová & Flamingo – Nechci (Mercy Mercy Mercy)
from album “Marie Rottrová”, 1972, Supraphon 1131268
arranged by Rudolf Březina, produced by František Řebíček
Marie Rottrová & Flamingo – I’ve Had Enough (Mercy Mercy Mercy)
from album “Rhythm & Romance”, 1977, Supraphon/Artia 1132303
arranged by Rudolf Březina, produced by Miloš Zapletal
original 1972 and 1977 LP covers
It’s been quite a long time since my last article, dear reader, so welcome back. This post is actually sort of a reader request: Magda, the charming young owner of the cute Happyfeet Records store in Prague asked for these tracks, so here we go…
Mercy Mercy Mercy was not only one of the biggest hits for Cannonball Adderley, but also one of Joe Zawinul’s – Adderley’s keyboarder then – “signature” compositions. Apart from being one of the most popular and instantly recognizable jazz hits of all times anyway. The 1966 original was an instrumental tune, but due to its soul-jazz feeling it’s been actually predestined for release as a vocal number. Of course, Marie Rottrová wasn’t by far the first one to sing it. Nancy Wilson probably had one of the first versions on her 1967 album Just For Now with lyrics by Gail & Vincent Levy – a slow and super cool rendition, by the way, worth to check out on its own! Marlena Shaw and Madeline Bell sang it, too. Even the Everly Brothers, the Creation or the Buckinghams did. And Eddie Jefferson vocalized it in his very special own way on Body And Soul in 1968. (See allmusic.com for a long list…)
However, Flamingo’s saxman Rudolf Březina re-arranged Mercy Mercy Mercy to a hot cooking uptempo pop-soul number, driven by Jiří Urbánek’s funky bass line, while Pavel Vrba wrote the original Czech lyrics Nechci (I Don’t Want). The tune first appeared on Rottrová’s “solo” album in 1972 – which has been introduced on Funky Czech-In almost two years ago, so please refer to that article for more details.
For Flamingo’s second export album Rhythm & Romance in 1977, the original instrumental basic track has been slightly remixed and new English vocals were overdubbed; both enhancements were not necessarily for better, if you ask me, but there they are. The words of I’ve Had Enough roughly follow Vrba’s Czech original. They were penned by Joy Turner, possibly the only Czechoslovakia-based pop lyricist in the 1970s who was officially allowed to write in English, albeit usually only for the Supraphon/Artia export albums.
Neither version has been reissued on CD yet*) so czech out your usual vinyl sources. Rhythm & Romance never even officially retailed in Czechoslovakia, thus you will rather likely find a copy of the LP in Germany, Poland, Hungary or Russia. (I got mine from Poland, if I remember correctly.) It’s sort of a “Best of Rottrová 1972–1976” album: except for two chansons in Czech, it contains English versions of her popular tunes, including the funky classic Ring Of Light (Kruh světla), Urbánek’s pre-acid-jazz masterpiece Time Is A Rogue (Modré oči mládí), or the complete vocal version of Quasimodo’s Dream (originally split into parts 1 & 2 on the Plameňáci 75 album). There are also unique cover versions of Nutbush City Limits and I’m On Fire, which are different recordings than the better known 7″ versions with Czech lyrics, Pan Muž and Expres Mléčné dráhy respectively.
P.S. Apropos Czech vinyl sources: I have a couple of the Rottrová pop/chanson singles for sale right now, including some ballads known from the Rhythm & Romance LP,
as well as the super funky album Flamingo/Plameňáci 75 in excellent condition! Please visit discogs.com/seller/loukash.
P.P.S. Stay tuned to this blog, there will likely be very exciting news later this year! We’re working pretty hard on “some thing”…
*) As I have learned directly from the Supraphon licensing office in the meantime, both versions of the track have been disapproved by the original publisher and won’t be generally available for reissue due to licensing restrictions. Nonetheless, the Czech version is included in the massive CD/DVD box set Co mám, to dám, and oddly enough, the English version is still available for purchase via supraphonline.cz.