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coverpic flag Czech Republic - Full Moon 40 - 01/21/00

Ivan Kral
Clear Eyes - Prohlédnutí

In the early 60's teenage Ivan Kral arrived to the States with his parents. Immediately, the young musician immersed himself in the New York scene and within five years he hooked up at the famous CBGB club with an ambitious and talented performer. Her name was Patti Smith and the two of them started collaborating on songs that eventually found their way on Patti's 1975 debut album Horses.

He left after Wave to record and tour with Iggy Pop. In the 80's he also worked with other CBGB alumni such as Blondie, John Cole and David Byrne, as well as with John Waite and David Bowie. His most famous work Dancing Barefoot was re-recorded by U2 in 1989. Finally, Kral returned to his native Czech Republic in 1992 and quickly became a sought-out producer, film composer and the frontman of his own band Native.

Clear Eyes - Prohlédnutí was released in 1999. It contains twelve tracks written by Kral in English plus two remixes of So Bad: a kind-of-a-disco mix, and a Czech language version. It's titled Mám tvuj stín (I Have Your Shadow) with lyrics by the legendary Jirí Suchy (although this certainly wouldn't count as his most shining hour.) The total time of these particular two chords adds up to almost 14 minutes...

Much more interesting are the other cuts such as the Traveling-Wilburys-like Trust Your Heart, the perky Teach Your Children, the dreamy Natalie, the Euro-funky Getting Back, or the bouncy On the Way Home. Best of all however, I liked most of the production efforts, such as the slap-back in Tell Me the Reason, the dryness of Getting Back, the background effects on Only a Child and Baterka (Flashlight), or the stereo-panning tricks on Oh Lord.

The problem is Kral's self-conscious singing. Sounding like a cross between Mark Knopfler (Teach Your Children) and George Harrison (If You Break Away), he must have been realizing where his strength was: in composition and production. Some songs simply sound unfinished (most notably Baterka and Oh Lord) and the lyrics as a whole lack emotional depth. In the end, Clear Eyes amounts to a very well produced songwriting demo.

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