The ability and recognition of LGT is nicely illustrated by the band always having been considered a “musicians’ partnership” in professional circles. The very first show by LGT was already an unusal affair that offered a telling teaser of things to come. This afternoon gig offered no lights and minimal stage spectacle, focusing on the musical experience instead. Later, such features characterised the band’s May Day concerts, held regularly in the Tabán city park of Budapest until 1987. There an audience of thirty to forty thousand young people shared the real joy and freedom of a spring afternoon, quite contrastive of the organised political parade held earlier the same day. 1973 saw the LGT stage production of An Imaginary Report on an American Pop Festival, based on the novel by Tibor Déry, in Vígszínház (Comedy Theatre of Budapest).
The play continues to be staged in Hungary to this day and also debuted in the US in 1987. A major milestone, Pop Festival was repsonsible for introducing rock music and rock groups to a theatre audience in Hungary, thus eminently contributed to the acceptance of youth culture and a softening of political restaints on the genre. Two further musical plays were produced by LGT for the Vígszínház. Movies of the seventies and eighties also often featured an LGT soundtrack. LGT TV shows directed by Pál Sándor still shine with freshness, back at the time of release their visuality was nothing short of sensational on the local pop video scene. LGT worked with Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller in 1973, cutting LPs in London and Los Angeles.
The summer of 1974 found the group in the US, performing at major festivals among other venues. Their music more than held its own alongside world stars of rock, but LGT’s international career never really got off. Whether it was due to a series of narrow minded decisions by Hungarian state officials or a well thought out scheme to keep success at check is anyone’s guess now. Eroded by international failure LGT nearly disbanded in 1977 but one final member change helped them back to their feet again, with still newer qualities starting to appear in their art. Owing partly to sixties teenage beat hero matured into revered pop poet, Dusán Sztevanovity becoming LGT’s lyricist, the group’s colourful sound was further amended by ventures into the “rock chanson” genre.
An emotionally laden musical universe, complete with thought-inspiring lyrics helped the band reach a plateau high above rock music standards. Artistic powers of double LP Loksi, released in 1980 overwhelmed even censorship authorities, making them consent to the publishing of “normally” strictly prohibited contect. LGT also extensively toured the socialist countries of the day, ranging from the Soviet Union to the GDR and Cuba. The group had an exceptionally large Polish fan base, rendering them potentially even more popular in Poland than they were at home in Hungary. Another window of opportunity for international success opened up in 1982, when EMI contracted LGT for three English language albums. However, major recognition eluded the band yet again.
A reason may be that while LGT is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon in Hungary, they could achieve the “mere” status of yet another great rock band in Britain. LGT as a rock group gave up their proper career in 1986. One reason behind this move was the constantly troubled relationship between the band and the state-owned publishing monopoly, another factor the sharp and obvious decline in pop music tastes on the Hungarian scene. Nevertheless, members of the group continued to work together in projects and productions wearing the LGT brand. In May 1992 the vast fin de sičcle halls of Western Railway Station in Budapest saw LGT bid farewell to their audience. For ever, as it would seem at the time.
However, five years the group found such new joy in working and making music together for the documentary chronicling LGT’s quarter of a century of existence (titled Volt 1×1 zenekar or One Band, Once Upon a Time in English) that giving up on the earlier decision, the group created a new studio album. 424 – Mozdonyopera (424 – An Engine Opera) yet again illustrated the popularity of the band that transcends generations. A predominantly young audience was made stronger by those in their late forties as well as very small children, numbering around two hundred thousand in total at the Connection Day concert in 1999. The same family atmosphere charaterised the LGT Festival on June 1st 2002.
The crowning event of the full day open air program was an ouvre-encompassing concert by the group. In that same year, LGT released A fiúk a kocsmába mentek (The Guys Gone To The Pub) their last album to date and also one of their best. Another large event is being prepared for the summer of 2007. On the 7th of August LGT will open the Sziget Festival in Budapest, a fortnight-long program packed with hundreds of performers in all pop music genres. The group is presumed to conduct a multi-stage show, culminating in a large evening concert.
An audience matching that of five years ago is expected to attend. LGT has produced and continues to produce a body of work that is never abstract yet always of uncompromising quality. The happiness brought to an audience of countlessly many by their songs, albums and concerts defies measures and baffles comprehension. More than a band, LGT is a charismatic phenomenon of Hungarian culture. Read more on Last.fm.
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