I first heard (and bought) “Povestiri din Gara” a long time ago. This album was released in 1992 by the now defunct Romanian record company Electrecord, responsible for the releases (on vinyl, mostly) of all the Romanian artists before and after the events from December 1989.
Cargo is a band that was born somewhere in the middle of the 1980’s in Timisoara, one of the largest and iconic cities besides Bucharest. Until 1989, when Ovidiu Ioncu-Kempes joined Cargo, the band released only two demos, “Demo 1987” and “Demo 1989“. In 1990, right after the fall of the communist regime and the opening of the borders, Cargo went invited to France for a small mini tour. There they recorded, in a French studio, a 7″ single, “Ana/Doi Prieteni“, two songs that will be featured on their debut album I’m going to talk about here.
In 1992, Electrecord released their debut album, “Povestiri din Gara“, an album that is to this day a benchmark of Romanian hard rock/heavy metal music. Two versions of this album were released, a vinyl with a grey and white cover, limited to 1000 copies and a tape, with a cover made of the most horrible and worst kind of paper. Due to the huge success this album had, it was repressed on LP in 1993, this time with a yellow cover replacing the grey one.
The album features 9 songs, with one instrumental (Portile de Fier) and includes, among other tracks which will become quite famous during the Kempes-era, the 2 songs featured on the Demo 1989, Brigadierii and Buletin de Stiri, both with a strong political, anti-communist message.
As a matter of fact, towards the end of Brigadierii, the band mockingly plays one of the most popular socialist/communist anthems, Internationala, which was played a lot in Romania before the fall of the regime.
The music on the record is a mix of hard rock/heavy metal, where the keyboards play a very important part, balancing between catchy and melancholic tunes. Another very strong point of this album are the vocals of Kempes, who will become one of the most charismatic Romanian rock singers to this day. His coarse vocals and smokey voice fit perfectly with the music Cargo played and during the live shows that followed the release of the album the audiences were bewitched by this extraordinary singer.
Songs like Povestiri din Gara, Buletin de Stiri, 1989, Batacanda, Erata and Brigadierii became real anthems the band was “forced” to play at every show. The strong political message present on most of the songs was mixed with a rather “immature” one featured on “Ana“, whose lyrics are about a hard to get “foxy lady” which the guy cannot lay his hands on. The only bad thing that I can say about this record is the way it was produced: terribly. But considering how things were working back then, let’s say it’s forgivable.
Nevertheless, the record has managed to keep to this day a certain melancholy and nostalgia of those times, right after the events from December, when we all had the highest hopes in the universe that our country will finally break its ties with communism and we’ll all have a normal life. That the things did not turn exactly that way, everybody knows, but that is another story. The innocence and the enthusiasm which are released by this record always make happy and sad at the same time, because this is a music I grew up with and it had a huge impact on me back then.
Povestiri din Gara is an album that can be enjoyed today, even if Cargo is not the same band anymore. Long ago, Kempes and Cargo parted ways but that doesn’t prevent him to play some classics during his live appearances. His voice sounds even better that before, proving that he still is the best Romanian classic rock vocalist.
I totally recommend this great album to all those (youngsters and oldies alike) who want to listen to good quality music, made with innocence, hope and soul. It’s a part of who we are, as metalheads, it’s a legacy of our youth and even if more than decade has passed since its release, this record is still about the same thing: freedom.
1. Povestiri din gară
3. Buletin de știri
4. Doi prieteni
5. Porțile de fier