The Plastic People of the Universe
March 25, 2002 1:33 PM   Subscribe

The Plastic People of the Universe are a reminder of how powerful and important a force rock and roll can be for positive change. Many American and British acts spoke of revolution, but they usually only meant it in the cultural sense, for these guys living in Iron Curtain-era Czechoslovakia, they were talking about the real life-or-death McCoy. Inspired by the Beatles, Frank Zappa, and future Czech president (and sometime collaborator) Vaclav Havel,the Plastics created some amazing music and were often surveilled or imprisoned as "enemies of the state" for their trouble. Thankfully, they lived to see a free Czech republic, although founder Milan Hlavsa passed away in early 2001. Special props to my main man rodii, for jogging my memory about the Plastics in this comment
posted by jonmc (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my god, that's a great link. What a great story.
posted by donkeymon at 2:34 PM on March 25, 2002

The Plastic People are fascinating. There's an excellent documentary about them that's worth checking out if you can find it. Here's a self-link to my review [ link, pop-ups].
posted by muckster at 4:03 PM on March 25, 2002

Pulnoc! That's the band I was trying to think of on that earlier thread, and all I could come up with was Aquarium. Aquarium was Russian.
posted by rodii at 5:28 PM on March 25, 2002

I saw them at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. I couldn't talk after the show; not from screaming but from amazement. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:45 PM on March 25, 2002

I used to really annoy people by asking them "Who was the most important rock band in history." They would inevitably reply, "The Beatles", to which I would answer, "no, not in the history of rock and roll. In history". Then I would explain how the Plastic People led directly to the overthrow of Communism. Then they would hit me over the head with something or other for being a smartass.

I first heard about the Plastics in an article in Musician magazine in the early 1980s, written by Paul Wilson, mentioned in the article as an early member of the band. He's also one of the most prominent translators of Czech literature in to English. One thing that always stuck in my mind about the article was the Sex Pistols refusing to play a benefit for the Plastics in 1976 or so because they were "anti-progressive". Johnny Rotten was an ass.

The first Plastics record I ever bought was "Passion Play", released on Wilson's Bozi Mlyn ("God's Mill") label. Absolutely amazing, if not the kind of thing I would share with most of my friends. I still pull it out and play it every Easter. I guess my next listen is coming up next weekend. I probably know the story of the crucifixion better in Czech than in English, and I don't speak Czech. :-)

I always regretted not buying that boxed set of all their records when I saw it in a store in Prague in 1993 or 95 (I forget which trip it was on). But I didn't (and don't) think it would have fit easily into my backpack....
posted by geneablogy at 8:29 PM on March 25, 2002

"Plastic people...oh baby you're such a drag"--FZ
posted by StOne at 8:33 PM on March 25, 2002

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