04. Polish Psychedelic Rock: A Game of Appearances



1. Czesław Niemen & Akwarele, “Tyle jest dróg” (There are so many ways)

From: Sukces. Polskie Nagrania PNCD 1571, 2014 , CD. Originally released in 1968.


Czesław Niemen: vocals, organ; Zbigniew Sztyc: tenor saxophone; Tomasz Butowtt: drums; Tomasz Jaśkiewicz: guitar; Ryszard Podgórski: trumpet; Marian Zimiński: piano, organ; Tadeusz Gogosz: bass guitar.




Czesław Niemen – vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and lyricist, one of the most original influential artists in Polish big beat of the 60. and pop music – distanced himself clearly from the hippie movement and youth rebellion. In Niemen’s creations, as well as in his appearance, some elements of psychedelic aesthetics manifested themselves from time to time. Examples are the album cover “Sukces” and Hendrixian guitar motifs in the piece “Tyle jest dróg” where the wah-wah quitar effect was used.


2. 74 Grupa Biednych, “Temat na motywach wschodnich” (Eastern Theme)

Live performance of the years 1969-1973 appeared on YouTube in 2013.


Jerzy Izdebski: quitar, harmonica, vocals; Andrzej Diering: trumpet; Bogdan Miś/Henryk Tomala: perkusja; Kazimierz Panasiak: bass guitar.


74 Grupa Biednych (The 74th Poor Men’s Band) from the seaside town of Ustka was a cult band among Polish hippies although the leader of the group Jerzy Izdebski cut himself off from the hippie ideology. The musicians of the band 74 Grupa Biednych performed wearing colorful and extravagant outfits. They made music that was a mixture of blues, jazz, and rock, as well as protest songs. The group never released an album.


3. Elar, “Moloch”

From: Working-Class Devils: Subversive Beat, R’n’B and Psych from Poland (1965– 1971). Beat Road Records BRLP 7006, 2011, 33⅓ rpm.


Waldemar Domagała: vocals, guitar, flute; Jerzy Czeladyn: guitar; Grzegorz Zydel: drums; Kazimierz Tomys: bass guitar.




The song was recorded in 1968 when the Wrocław band Elar started to use flickering colored lights and smoke during concerts, weaving long guitar improvisations into the performance program and protesting in its lyrics against increasing industrialization and the disappearance of humanistic values. In the middle of the song “Moloch” appears a short psychedelic impression with the flute and the applied vocal tracks.


4. Breakout, “Na Drugim Brzegu Tęczy” (Over Bank Rainbow)

From: Na Drugim Brzegu Tęczy. Polskie Nagrania PNCD 988, 2005, CD. Originally released in 1969.


Tadeusz Nalepa: vocals, guitar; Mira Kubasińska: vocals; Józef Hajdasz: drums; Michał Muzolf: bass guitar.




The album Na Drugim Brzegu Tęczy is regarded as the bridge between big beat and rock and the first strictly rock album on Polish ground. Psychedelic elements of the title piece are chiefly found in the lyrics, as well as Nalepa’s response appearing every second verse, enriched by the fuzz. The subject of the lyrics (written by Franciszek Walicki under the nickname Jacek Grań) speaks of, “lighting a rainbow river,” and expresses the desire to see “the sun at night.” In the lyrics also the motif of a rabbit appears – a symbol of Californian psychedelia through the words of the piece “White Rabbit” by the group Jefferson Airplane.


5. Zdrój Jana, “Ballada o dziadku kolejofilu” (A Ballad about a Granpa Train-Lover)

From the film Żegnaj paro! (Goodbye Vapor!). Studio Filmów Animowanych – Kraków 1974, Ryszard Antoniszczak (director).


Jacek Ukleja: guitar, violin, piano, vocals; Ryszard Antoniszczak: percussion instruments, tambourine, vocals; Piotr Walewski: piano, organ; Rafał Marchewczyk: piano, vocals; Jerzy Wójcik: guitar, vocals; Marek Wilczyński: drums; Andrzej Paweł Partyka: bass guitar, vocals.



The band Zdrój Jana did not record any albums during its years of popularity among the hippie youth and students (1966–1972). There were only songs for the Polish radio. The film Żegnaj paro! which was connected with the song “Ballada o dziadku kolejofilu” was created after the band split in 1972. It was maintained in the aesthetics of the Yellow Submarine by The Beatles, even though musically it resembled protopunk much more. This almost 10-minute-long film is considered to be the first Polish videoclip.


6. Romulad & Roman, “Towarowy rusza do Indii” (A Freight Train is Drawing Out to India)

From: Nagrania Radiowe z lat 1968– 1976. Polskie Radio PRCD 1039– 40, 2007, CD.


Romuald Piasecki: vocals, guitar; Roman Runowicz: vocals, guitar; Andrzej Tylec: drums; Leszek Muth: bass guitar.




The song was recorded secretly at the Academic Radio Studio in Wrocław in 1972 and it saw the light in the 1990s, on the compilation of radio songs. The title used a similar device to the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by The Beatles, because it was possible to create the name of the Polish substitute of LSD – that was TRI (Towarowy Rusza do Indii). The band used many quitar effects eg. flanger, phaser, fuzz, booster, wah-wah. The performances were enriched by the light effects achieved by means of projectors, floodlights, mirrors, and slides.


7. SBB, “Odlot” (A Trip)

From: SBB. Metal Mind Productions MMP CD 0320, 2008, CD. Originally released in 1974.


Józef Skrzek: keyboard instruments, vocals, bass guitar; Apostolis Anthimos: guitar; Jerzy Piotrowski: drums.




The famous Polish improvising band SBB performed mainly progressive rock as well as jazz-rock. However, on SBB’s first (concert) album SBB the song “Odlot” in the psychedelic style was featured. The composition can be treated as a musical impression of a three-part structure (ABA), where part B (clearly contrasting) is a culmination of the “trip”.


8. Klan, “Sen” (A Dream)

From: Mrowisko. Metal Mind Productions MMP CD 0637 DGD, 2008, CD. Originally released in 1971.


Marek Ałaszewski: guitar, vocals; Maciej Głuszkiewicz: keyboard; Andrzej Poniatowski: drums; Roman Pawelski: bass guitar.



The instrumental piece “Sen” opening the album Mrowisko (Anthill). The same musical motif also emerges at the end of the album. Generally, Klan’s music is closer to the proto-progressive as well as progressive sounds but there are references to psychedelic aesthetics in it as well. The album Mrowisko comprised music created especially for a ballet performance.


9. Krzysztof Klenczon & Trzy Korony, “Nie przejdziemy do historii” (We’ll Never Make History)

From: Krzysztof Klenczon i Trzy Korony. Pronit SXL 0779, 1971 , 33⅓ rpm.


Krzysztof Klenczon: vocals, guitar; Ryszard Klenczon: quitars; Piotr Stajkowski: drums; Grzegorz Andrian: bass guitar.




The song distinguished itself by the strong overdriven guitar in the style of the recordings of Jimi Hendrix, and the eclectic joyful chorus resembling the former big beat recordings of Klenczon’s previous band, Czerwone Gitary.


10. Dżem, “Niewinni i ja” (The Innocents and Me)

From: Absolutely Live 1986. Box Music BM CD 003, 1997, CD. Originally released in 1986.


Ryszard Riedel: vocals, harmonica; Adam Otręba: guitar; Jerzy Styczyński: guitar; Paweł Berger: piano; Michał Giercuszkiewicz: drums; Beno Otręba: bass guitar.




Dżem during the period of their biggest successes was headed by the charismatic vocalist Ryszard Riedel (died in 1994) who regarded himself as a hippie. “Niewinni i ja” is Riedel’s personal tale of sorts concerning the mechanisms and temptations of heroin addiction. The middle (improvised) part brings to mind a psychedelic trip, but very dark in its nature, already deprived of the innocence of the 1960s.


11. Apteka, “Synteza” (Synthesis)

From: Menda. S.P. Records 23/ 94, 1994, CD.


Jędrzej Kodymowski: vocals; Jacek Stromski: drums, vocals; Olaf Deriglasoff: bass guitar, vocals.




Apteka was the group from the area of the so-called Gdańska Scena Alternatywna (Gdańsk’s Alternative Stage). The band combined post-punk and alternative rock, referring – particularly in the guitar texture – to the motifs, tricks, and sounds characteristic of the acid-rock and psychedelic bands, although maintained already in the stylistics of the 1990s. The lyrics of song “Synteza” pertain to magic mushrooms.