27 passports like 27 years… great new CD album (56 min) by The Ex flew in. It took some time for new vocalist / guitarist Arnold de Boer to fit inside well oiled band-machine. Or it could rather be that some fans needed more time to accept G. W. Sok’s departure from The Ex. His (anarcho-syndicalist poet on the dole) vocals (and word play) were band’s signature as much as Terrie’s sharp sounding guitar strings’ wrangling and Katherina’s style of drumming. Anyway, on “27 Passports” Arnold de Boer shines like he’s been one of super-fit The Ex veteran musicians for decades. Looking back and re-listening, “Catch My Shoe” (2010) brought along inspired energetic playing and complex songs but as an album in its entirety partly suffers from excessive length. Perhaps I slightly more prefer sax led “Y’Anbessaw Tezeta” (2012; Getachew Mekuria w / The Ex ) & “Enormous Door” (2013; The Ex & Brass Unbound). It might be too early to say definitively but “27 Passports” appears to be even better product than all of these recent The Ex issues! Kudos. (although “Y’Anbessaw Tezeta” collaboration belongs to a league of its own) … wait wait wait … ček ček čekaj … Teške se kiše spremaju. Kroz tvoj se prozor samo jablani vide. Nad gradom munje sijevaju. A doma nema goluba da te miluje.
Soon All Cities
Young and cocky anarchists The Ex burning music newspapers in ’86…
Listen to the Painters – listen to G.W.Sok!
A collection of tracks (recorded between 2009 and 2015) with G.W. Sok on vocals.
Two Pin Din – Listen To The Painters
Zoikle – Illusies 1
Surplus 1980 – The World’s Still Here
The And – The Heart Of Everything
L’Etrangleuse – Writer’s Blog
King Champion Sounds – Ghetto Of Eden
Action Beat – Spoonfeed Hell
Cannibales & Vahinés – No Can Do
Chapi Chapo & Les Petites Musiques De Pluie – Here We Go Again
THIS YEAR, the group that sneers at laughing fate, broke down in a quaint place three kilometres outside Dachau for five days skint and starved escaping only through the use of a bogus credit card to get to Yugoslavia, not worth it at all despite what these leftist musicians say. (Of course gigs are packed!) Returned home to bankrupt record co. then slipped again into a more sinister one. Went abroad and developed xenophobia. Marriage saved vocalist’s neck. Attacked for tax. Spurned retrospect. future very bright, hiding retirement. Now number 6, age average 22.5.
OTHERWISE, it’s the cyclical tone of 1983 that strikes me the most. Viewed through miserable eyes, much familiarity here: Music Vaudeville still. Manned as ever by cockney musicians in disguise, supplemented by Lancashire-Scotch deserters. But there’s more to it. Loads of crafted ‘good pop’ lyrics, Serious, Pal, in their statement of non-conviction in this living desert etc. but subtly appealing to humanity in the same way as a hospital does. Nothing new, except this is of groups’ own accord! So, I have to proclaim 1983-THE YEAR OF THE TOADIES. A good laugh though was seeing all the serious/literal musicians go ‘Lite’ (in wake of lager and cigarettes) as the scrambling for market position heated up. A musical version of the GOD-JOB Interviewer hoax practiced on schools TV – i.e. declining market etc. look at so & so, he did it – this paid off to ‘those concerned.’ Competition fierce, and groups as clean and accommodating as never before! Independent labels feel secure enough to pick, choose and shove around even. Early senile fantasies of groups sure to be quenched for their staff, who’re comfy in the knowledge that the Y.T.S. of rock is the Soviet conscription-well of GB.
More disturbing was this panic hitting journalist too – semi established hacks and even their betters fighting for and adopting name scattering with redick prose, bruise purple and its insecurity. Smash Hits realise this I think.
Also funny is the proliferation of faggots in the top pop lot. I have a theory that this is due to AIDS scare, resulting in said groups having more energy derived from celibacy.
If the beginning of ’17 brought new album by Trobecove krušne peći then we can gently end the year with unexpected return (with LP album as extra surprise) of Brujači (Buzzers), led by legendary TKP bassist Mario Barišin – Bara. The current lineup consists of Zagreb’s guitarist (on hire!?) Franjo Glušac (ex Peach Pit) & drummer Viktor Krasnić who also plays in band Šumski. Glušac’s playing style evolved over the years under the influence of virtuoso/avant noise-rock guitarists and it changes the concept of original Brujači as double bass band. Bara’s bass buzzing appears in different styles from song to song but the album as a whole is well-rounded and appropriately recorded in the studio. Today’s version of Brujači gathers Zagreb rock musicians from different generations who found common language, developed interplay and successfully captured it on “Ladanje” (Dirty Old Label / Geenger Records, 2017). Will they develop it further? Since this tribute website is a small niche that bridges past times & elusive present (or postpunk decade & mature stages of long-lived resilient bands / musicians still active today), inclusion of “Ladanje” somehow fits as the album pick for December. Basslines as lifelines. Pođimo na selo…
Last year Freaks R Us (The Pop Group themselves) re-issued “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” (1980/2016) which was far too long out of print. They didn’t stick to the song sequence of the original album: “One Out Of Many” track is out, “We Are All Prostitutes” single is now in. I won’t miss the former much – it would have worked better as B-side material even first time around (for example “Forces of Oppression” could have been A-side of never planned single). Freaks R Us really could have included both songs and added other time period related songs for the CD issue thou. CD format easily tolerates extra minutes of music. Anyway, in many cases I liked the record industry practice (or wish of the artists) in UK which kept strong (lead) single separate from the album, as had happened with fiery “She’s Beyond Good And Evil” single & “Y” LP the year before.
For the purpose of refreshed listening experience I’ve also re-imagined this album as 8-song mini LP (cut at 45 RPM!):
A2 Blind Faith
A3 How Much Longer
A4 There Are No Spectators
B1 Forces Of Oppression
B2 Feed The Hungry
B4 Rob A Bank
A We Are All Prostitutes
B Amnesty International Report
Boys (still teenagers!) from Bristol didn’t like to be pigeonholed. They did hate word “rock” and what it had represented in their minds. With fucking passion! Were they good at it? Brilliant! Kudos. “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” (1980) album is as good as “Y” (1979) and as relevant today as it was almost four decades ago.
Boys Next Door (the Birthday Party), the Reactionaries (Minutemen) & perhaps Šarlo akrobata and Trobecove krušne peći from around these parts, among many other bands and music fans all around the world were in total awe!
Remind yourself of The Pop Group greatness and support the recent re-issue from Freaks R Us. Every record shop in town should have The Pop Group in stock for the sake of mental health of the dwindling new generations interested in groundbreaking and mind-blowing music. “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” is a cultural treasure in pop (!?) music. The tags and genre classifications are arbitrary here anyhow.
The last album “Honeymoon On Mars” (2016) ended up a victim of the studio approach in pop song-craft with too many unnecessary layers of electronic sounds, overdubs and banal samples. A step back from unexpected and decent (but symptomatically slicked) return with “Citizen Zombie”. Symbolic opposition and defiant stance would work better in live context (in studio controlled environment) in my humble opinion. I definitely like a poke of straight forward electronic tracks (e.g. “Zipperface”) but the album as a whole may be experienced as continuation of Mark Stewart’s solo albums rather than The Pop Group album. Listening to “Honeymoon On Mars” is like waiting in vain for the vital electricity of simple guitar/bass/drums setup (with a touch of electronica) to surface and rip up overbearing and predictable digital everything of everyday existence. No sweat and other body fluids on the bed sheets in the end. I wish that the sound aesthetic of this particular recording were in total opposite to the intentionally repulsive and frightening cover art. Nice effort thou. What I want I could get in concert, I guess.
For how much longer do we tolerate mass murder?
Until the bitter end. It seems.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, man always does.” – Voltaire
Well, obviously Unsane cannot be killed easily. They are like the city pest they summoned for the previous album “Wreck” (2012). Impossible to shake them off and get rid of them. And there’s no reason for that because Unsane excelled on “Sterilize”. Alongside self-titled debut (1991) and “Scattered, Smothered & Covered” (1995) this would be my favorite Unsane album.
Electric Wizard surprised me as well. I was bored with sprawling tedium of “Time to Die” (2014) and almost wrote them off. I was wrong. “Wizard Bloody Wizard” is brief and lean appearance for Electric Wizard standards, and indifferently evil as always. In the meantime I’ve also realized that I like Electric Wizard more than Sleep. I am especially fond of the second line-up with Lady Buckingham as additional guitarist.
(lately I’ve been reading the Red Riding 1974-1977-1980-1983 Quartet by David Peace, and although the background soundtrack for “1980” is comprised of Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, The Pop Group, Cabaret Voltaire, Whitehouse etc., these two recent bloody albums have similar impact on my twitching nerves)
Vol VII: Rock and Pop Music in Skopje in the 1980s
*subject to change*
This far away ex Socialist Republic was/is situated deeper in the Balkans where Byzantine ways of singing and chanting have persevered in liturgy. Skopje, the capitol city, was hit by powerful earthquake in 1963 and rebuilt in steel and concrete. So, despite relatively sunny climate and warmhearted folk, one could find just enough Socialist gray areas even down there. Well, I can only guess. Macedonia as a land is usually (and superficially) associated with red vine, mutton, blood red poppies & jazz-rock virtuoso Vlatko Stefanovski’s band Leb i sol whose rise to fame progressed in parallel with the new wave happenings. Although Makedonija very often brings in mind sunshine too, where those rock generations really children of sun (Deca sunca) or darkness? It might seem like the majority of them were children (youth) of God: post-punk (or dark-wave or Gothic) bands that operated like mystic sects branched from Macedonian Orthodox Church – bringing religious Sunday school out of the half-secret parochial classes to the Electric Church and rock stages across the country to amplify their beliefs.
The earliest Macedonian punk and new wave bands didn’t leave official recordings behind. They probably lived fast and died too early or transformed into something else. In general, Macedonian artistic spirit of mid 1980s struck a chord with dark wave.
Since I am not that much familiar with the history of rock and pop music from Skopje and SR Macedonia, beside obvious punk rock or post-punk names (Badmingtons, Bastion, Padot na Vizantija, Mizar etc.), here’s the segment from Wikipedia as a brief overview:
The late 1970s saw the emergence of punk rock. The first punk rock band was Fol jazik, formed in Skopje in 1978. During the 1980s other notable punk groups were Saraceni and Badmingtons, both led by Vladimir Petrovski Karter. Later he switched to a more mainstream sound and formed the group Aleksandar Makedonski.
The new wave scene featured artists such as the ska group Cilindar, Usta na usta and Tokmu taka. Tokmu taka’s vocalist Ljupčo Bubo Karov from Kavadarci later became popular as an actor of the comedy TV show K-15, while Usta na usta’s member Aleksandar Prokopiev became a prominent writer. Another influential band was Bon Ton Bend with Dario Pankovski, who released many hits of new wave music.
The synthpop trio Bastion which featured Kiril Džajkovski was one of the most important 1980s acts. Another notable 1980’s act was Haos in Laos (allegedly in a sort of New Romantic style). The pop-rock group Memorija formed in 1984 was one of the most prosperous from this period. The most productive in the country was the post-punk, darkwave and gothic rock scene which included the cult bands Mizar, Arhangel and Padot na Vizantija, the latter led by Goran Trajkoski. Later he formed the neo-folk group Anastasia which became internationally acclaimed with its soundtrack for the Milčo Mančevski’s Academy Award nominated film Before the Rain.
Notable heavy metal artists were the groups Karamela and Concorde, the latter being remembered for their more radio-friendly hit “Visoki štikli i crni čorapi” (“High Heels and Black Stockings”). Its guitarist Venko Serafimov later started a successful solo career.
Noќ nad Makedonija (1981-90)
The very beginning (1980-83) of the dark decade in rock in Macedonia remained undocumented and the scarce demo recordings seem to be lost for good.
Početok i kraj 1983-86
Badmingtones (ex Fol jazik, ex Saraceni) (1983-86) fronted by ever-present punker V.P. Karter played slightly melodic punk-rock throughout the mid decade and even managed to leave a demo tape behind. Now very rare, it consists of earlier recordings done in their own studio and three tracks recorded in professional studio of RTV Skopje in 1985. Their basic punk-rock sound was enriched with electric organ on studio material.
Bastion was yet another smooth ex-YU synth pop combo: drum machine, fretless bass, synths and baby doll singing in Serbian (then known as Serbo-Croatian – the official language in Yugoslavia). The trio was formed in 1983 by Ana Kostovska (vocalist), Kiril Džajkovski (keyboards) and Ljubomir Stojsavljević (bass guitar). The author of their lyrics was the internationally acclaimed film director Milčo Mančevski, at that time a correspondent of the magazines Džuboks. He was also a director of their music video for the song “Hot day in Mexico”. It’s a shame that at least one single track on their only record was not sung in Macedonian. Anyhow, Bastion had smashing times turning Skopje into bright lights big city LA. I remain emotionally reserved to some degree but can understand appeal, there is some beauty in delicate fragility of Bastion’s almost minimal approach. Synth-pop fans that dig albums by Talas (BG), Videosex (LJ) or Denis & Denis (RI) should check it out. The original copies of “Bastion” (1984) issued by PGP RTB are fetching silly prices nowadays.
Energetic post punk (via Echo and the Bunnymen, U2 or Comsat Angels) of short-lived Padot na Vizantija (ex Afektiven naboj) was documented only on a couple of studio/live demo tracks scattered as appearances on three cassette releases (various artists compilations). They split up too soon and freed space for powerful gothic rock delivered by post-JNA Mizar or Mizar II. Surprisingly, Padot na Vizantija toured a bit in their short lifetime and even participated at YURM ’85 festival in Zagreb where they got excellent reviews. If they had managed to record and issue debut album in ’85 it would fit nicely in dark-wave post-punk albums series championed by this blog/site. Padot na Vizantija anthology has been issued by NE! Records this year.
Gradot e nem (1986-90)
Mizar II put out two critically acclaimed goth rock albums before the official end of Yugoslavia. The self-titled debut “Mizar” (1988) would be the most important record from Macedonia from the 1980s (if we put Leb i sol albums in separate category). I used to think that the sophomore effort “Свјат Dreams 1762 – 1991” (1991) was significantly inferior but now I realize that I was wrong – it has its own strong points. I can be fussy only about the clean production on both, as usually.
Mizar – Mizar (1988, Helidon) – the most important rock album from Macedonia
Aporea (aka Apokrifna realnost) self-released religiously (spiritually) themed vintage industrial tape “Na rekah vavilonskih” in 1988. The material was recorded after Padot na Vizantija had disbanded, sometime in the between the fall of ’85 and winter of ’88.
Lola V. Stain recorded two albums of ambiental music before crucial member Zlatko Origjanski joined Anastasia. The debut “Ikona” (1990) issued for an independent label from Zagreb (Blind Dog Records) is comprised of two long multi-part atmospheric instrumentals: “Makova polja” & “Rani jadi”. These two complex songs are structured from the interchangeable variations based on either bagpipes, traditional ethnic drum (tapan) or a jazzy psychedelic theme.
Anastasia started as collaboration of musicians from Padot na Vizantija, Aporea and Mizar who composed atmospheric music influenced by Macedonian folk and Byzantine church music. This lineage also represents specific artistic vision of Goran Trajkoski that had started with punk band Afektiven naboj. The first EP “Na rjekah vavilonskih” was released as 12’’ record in 1990. It was introduction of sorts for the film soundtrack “Before the Rain” that would become international hit few years later.
Arhangel was Macedonian alternative rock band formed in 1989 by Risto Vrtev (the first vocalist in original Mizar). Their debut album was recorded during last days of Yugoslavia and even pressed in Zagreb by Jugoton in 1991. However, as an active rock band, Arhangel have been more significant for post YU Macedonia.
As an exception to the “rule” and due to the scarcity of recorded Macedonian bands I’ll add Telo-nauka sovršena who were actually living far away from Skopje – they came from a small town Struga (as local punk band Afektiven naboj). I quite like material from their only official release – tape “Kadis” (1988, SKC Niš) but not so much some sound production choices. Like Mizar, Telo-nauka sovršena often sound better to me live than in studio. One can here ghosts of Joy Division [unknown pleasures] or early New Order buried in the hiss and flutter of an old cassette tape. Never heard earliest recorded material (pre “Kadis”), if it really exists in any format.
I am going to end retrospective tripping on ex YU music with this post and take a small imaginary vacation at some fancy resort on the lake of Ohrid. Seeping cold juice under a huge parasol listening to Bastion would make me good now on the verge of winter. I am kidding comrades! I need to spend some quiet time as a recluse contemplating and meditating in a remote Macedonian monastery (without holy scriptures of any kind, of course). OK, I am leaving you with Mizar, not in misery. Godspeed!
The First Two Revelations of Mizar (from a great Wikipedia entry)
Mizar (Macedonian: Мизар [miˈzar]) is a Macedonian rock band from Skopje. They achieved a status of a cult band, especially in Macedonia and across the Western Balkans.
The group is notable for its first self-titled album, as it was the first popular music in Western Balkans record in Macedonian language. The album was a major success and it is listed among the top ten rock albums ever released in Western Balkans.
Mizar was formed in 1981 in the then Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Because of the band’s avant-garde sound and image, its Christian leanings and support for Macedonian self-determination, they were viewed with certain degree of suspicion by the former authorities. Still, the group received great media attention including numerous appearances on the national television.
The band got its name after Mizar which is a guiding star for orientation of travelers in the deserts. The name was given by Panta Džambazoski.
Mizar’s musical style is post-punk, darkwave and gothic rock. Beside influences such as Joy Division for instance, Mizar also uses elements of Traditional Macedonian folklore and Byzantine music. Another main part of their music is Goran’s (both Tanevski and Trajkoski) vocals which are based on Christian church chants.
In their long history, Mizar has had 5 Revelations, all of them with different singers.
The First Revelation (Risto Vrtev)
Mizar were formed in 1981 in Skopje as an instrumental trio of Gorazd Čapovski on guitar, Valentin Žabjakin on bass and Panta Džambazoski on drums. In late 1981, Žabjakin left the band and was replaced with Ilija Stojanovski. Risto Vrtev joined on vocals soon after. In 1982, the group recorded a demo tape for Radio Skopje. They then sent this tape to Jugoslovenski Rock Moment (also known as YURM), who wrote a short but glowing review of the tape. During 1983, the band then had to break up shortly after due to the members’ mandatory army commitments.
The Second Revelation (Goran Tanevski)
In 1985, when the members of Mizar returned from the army, Čapovski attempted to form a band called Inola-X with Vrtev, but it didn’t work out. Mizar then reformed with Goran Tanevski in place of Vrtev and a new keyboardist, Slobodan Stojkov. They started to use elements of the traditional Macedonian folklore and Byzantine music blended with post-punk, darkwave and gothic rock. This phase of Mizar is known as Мизар – Второ Откровение (Mizar – The Second Revelation). Vrtev later founded Arhangel (Archangel) which was awarded as the best rock act in Macedonia during the 1990s. Arhangel inherited certain features of Mizar but with a more conventional rock approach which is why Arhangel was sometimes referred as the Rock Mizar. In 1986, the band filmed a music video for the song “Stoj”.
In 1986, the band played the “Druga godba” festival in Zagreb, but altercations within the band caused Džambazoski and Stojkov to leave the group. They were replaced by Vencislav Smakjoski and Goran Trajkovski respectively. This lineup played at Festival Omladina, with Vladimir Kaevski on keyboards, and contributed two live tracks to the festival’s compilation. These tracks are the first appearance of Mizar on record. Trajkovski would later be replaced by Sašo Krstevski, while Stojkov was replaced by Katerina Veljanovska.
In 1986 they recorded a few demos and were a support act for Laibach and Disciplina kičme on their Yugoslav tour. In 1987 they were awarded for their unique sound at the most significant rock music festival which was held in Subotica.
They released their first, self-titled album, in 1988 with the following line-up:
The producer was Goran Lisica-Fox. Beside their own songs, the album also included a cover version of the notable Macedonian folk song Zajdi, Zajdi under the title “Златно сонце” (Golden Sun). One of the best known songs from the album is “Девојка од Бронза” (Girl made of bronze).
By 1989, the lineup had stabilised to the following:
This lineup’s first appearance on record was the Demoskop 1 compilation in late 1990, where they contributed two tracks, “Veligden” and “Glas”. Between October and December 1990, the band recorded their second album, Svjat Dreams, releasing it on 7 September 1991, the day before Macedonia split from Yugoslavia. The title of the record is inspired by the song Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics. On this album they covered the traditional song 1762 and a song written by Vrtev, the first singer of Mizar titled “Дом” (Home).
Don’t Look Back vol. VII: Skopje (1-2-ex-YU!!)
Noќ nad Makedonija (1981-90)
Početok i kraj (1983-86)
Badmingtons – Site obični luđe 
Badmingtons – Doađa sabota 
Badmingtons – Moram li jas? 
Bastion – Deca sunca 
Bastion – Mesec u šolji 
Bastion – Molitva 
Padot na Vizantija – Početok i kraj 
Padot na Vizantija – Istata sostojba 
Aporea – Dzvezdo javljajušta solnce [medieval]
Gradot e nem (1986-90)
Aporea – Na rjekah vavilonskih [ancient]
Mizar – Gradot e nem (live) 
Mizar – Stoj 
Mizar – Devojka od bronza 
Mizar – Hoden že 
Aporea – Kondak Sv. Prohoru Pčinjskomu [undated]
Telo-nauka sovršena – Grešnici 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Niz vekovi so grevovi 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Plastična zemlja 
Arhangel – Arhangel ’80 – ’89 (live) 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Son (live) 
Lola V. Stain – Makova polja 1 
Lola V. Stain – Makova polja 2 
Lola V. Stain – Rani jadi 1 
Lola V. Stain – Rani jadi 3 
Mizar – Abja mem 
Mizar – Veligden 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Nebo 
Mizar – Običen čovek 
More than two decades without a misstep in album making. If it weren’t for the unfortunate Fontana years it would be all the way from “Modern Dance” days. Impressive. Otac Ubu kaže: “I got a bit of soul. I keep it in a cage. I feed it parrot food. I keep it tame. Some days I let it fly. Then it’s a bird of prey. It hunts for blood. I let it hunt for blood. It’s not a song you want to sing along to. You don’t want to get these thoughts inside your head.”
Pere Ubu in the seventies introduced several innovations in the rock music scene. Who, according to you, at the moment is really making something new?
I am uninterested in “making something new.” I am interested in mainstream rock as the fundamental voice of the American folk experience. I am interested in exploring the narrative voice within the mainstream. Pere Ubu is mainstream rock. Justin Timberlake is weird experimental music. Robbie Williams is avant-garde. Britney Spears is constantly coming up with something new and innovative. Pere Ubu does the same old thing. “New” is a trap and a scam to dupe student-types and other naive people.
Vol VI: Rock and Pop Music in Beograd in the 1980s (incomplete overview)
*subject to change*
Disclaimer: I used excellent and very informative Wikipedia entries for Serbian Pop & Rock music as framework for this post. Someone’s done great job. I hope the author(s) won’t mind my “cut & paste” butchering of their text. So, check Wikipedia out for more factual (objective) details concerning subject matter! My take on it is quite subjective, as always.
BEOGRAD (1980 – 86)
Beograd, the capitol city of SR Serbia and whole SFRJ, was the biggest and probably the grayest of all Yugoslavian cities. In Belgrade one find himself in ex YU territories outside historical borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its direct sphere of influence. I visited Beograd once or even twice in mid 1980s. I can vaguely remember watching “Electric Dreams” (and some forgotten action movie which was even more retarded) in a cinema (bioskop!) downtown. Then bathing at the open swimming pool on Tašmajdan, visiting sad shabby ZOO, walking on the walls of Kalemegdan citadel and fooling around along the banks of Danube near Višnjički venac (then outskirts of the city) etc. Too young for rock’n’roll.
Introduction 1977 – 80
The punk wave in Yugoslav capitol was late. While some kids, possessed by rumors, newspaper articles and punk-rock records, were feverishly learning their instruments in the sheds, garages & atomic shelters around the city, few slightly older guys from the most promising hard rock band in the city Limunovo drvo finally changed their stance. In the spring of 1980 they appeared as new wave / post-punk band Šarlo akrobata and stole the show, pushing younger teenage punks back in the shadows. Actually there were three of them older bands, which officially formed as new wave acts and became visible in public during the spring ’80. In a similar way as Šarlo akrobata, one part of late 1970’s rock band Hipnotisano pile became post-punk band Električni orgazam. The third new band were Idoli, preceded by short-lived group Zvuk ulice led by guitarist and vocalist Vlada Divljan. Idoli combined “ancient” (late 1950s and early 1960s popular music) & modern (late 1970s and early 1980s new wave). However, for a year at their artistic peak, Idoli were exciting new wave / post punk hybrid that put out one of the best albums from the New Wave period in the whole country and beyond.
In the late 1970’s new hard-rock bands on the rise were Limunovo drvo and Riblja čorba. They could be viewed as two sides of the same coin (hard-rock) or yin-yang of Belgrade hard rock ‘79. Soon to become extremely popular across whole Yugoslavia Riblja čorba were conservative and somewhat regressive in a way Limunovo drvo were not. Riblja čorba successfully portrayed character (basic instincts) of ex YU people through their vulgar hard-rock while budding Limunovo drvo showed progressive tendencies which eventually led them to modernist frame of mind. On the other hand, older hard-rockers Gordi took usual route and developed into premium heavy metal band in Beograd. In 1980 also appeared Tunel, founded by another gang of city’s rock veterans. Young band Bulevar also mixed old (hard-rock) and new (new wave pop rock). Grupa I on debut album “Na svom talasu” from 1980, presented a combination of diverse musical influences, including hard rock, power pop, ska and reggae.
Perhaps one of the most interesting late 1970s name in Belgrade was Igra staklenih perli, psychedelic art-rock group under German influence whose activity preceded and overlapped with new wave happenings. The band (named after Hermann Hesse’s book “The Glass Bead Game” – often obligatory hippie reading material) was formed in 1976 with musical influences ranging from early Pink Floyd & Hawkwind to Can & Tangerine Dream. Having played numerous free concerts, the band established a cult status and was offered to record an album. In 1978 they entered the PGP RTB studio and recorded their debut, self-titled album. The softer second album “Vrt svetlosti” (1980, PGP RTB) was recorded in the period from August 1979 until January 1980. Both albums are recommended.
Kozmetika (coined from “Cosmic Ethics”) was studio oriented art rock band started by painter Vladimir Jovanović in the late 1970s. It had fluid line-up that also included another founding member and bass player Slobodan Konjović (aka Serbian John Peel) & guitarist and multimedia artist Goran Vejvoda. They got self-titled record out as late as 1983. It was patched from studio work that stretched too long in between 1979 and 1982. “Kozmetika” (1983, ZKP RTVL) consists mostly of instrumental stuff comparable to Bowie and Eno.
Pop singer Oliver Mandić was an eccentric “life of the party” type of person into soul, disco and perhaps Ziggy Stardust / Thin White Duke.
At the same time singer-songwriter Dušan Mihajlović “Spira” had given up the acoustic sound, as in folk-rock group Suncokret, turning his head towards the upcoming new wave music. He formed the band Doktor Spira i ljudska bića, which in its initial period had changed numerous lineups. The band recorded the debut album “Dijagnoza” in 1980 at the legendary but technically modest “Druga Maca” studio managed by recording engineer and producer Enco Lesić. Since the local record labels were not interested to release the album, Mihajlović went to London in 1981 and financed himself the printing of 50 copies of the album, which he brought to Belgrade and distributed them to his friends. In 1986, the PGP-RTB editor had become the pop rock musician Oliver Mandić and without any promotion, the album was re-released in a minimal printing of 2,000 copies, and quickly sold out. The album itself is a bit strange. Something like a verbose singer-songwriter’s attempt at new wave styles, reminiscent of Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson, but less caffeinated and closer to pub-rock slow crawl. The backing band (Ljudska bića) got drowned in torrent of spoken (rather than sang) words by slightly quirky vocalist with new wave diagnosis (Dr. Spira).
The legendary “orthodox” trinity (Šarlo akrobata, Idoli, Električni orgazam) of Belgrade’s Novi talas temporarily conquered Zagreb’s Novi val “scene” in winter 1980/81, gaining Jugoton label contracts during the packaged deal blitz.
“Razni izvođači – Paket aranžman (Pozdrav iz Beograda)” (1981, Jugoton), recorded in autumn ’80, was selling quite well due to bouncy ska hits that even small children memorized with awe & some witty and inspired new wave tunes for older folks. This record revealed to the rest of YU what Beograd had to offer in 1980: Šarlo akrobata, Električni orgazam & Idoli.
Šarlo akrobata was a short-lived but seminal Yugoslav new wave/post-punk band that left an indelible mark on the entire music scene of former Yugoslavia. They spawned from the (progressive) hard rock group Limunovo drvo, founded in 1977 by guitarist and vocalist Milan Mladenović and guitarist Dragomir Mihajlović “Gagi”. Following several lineup changes and finally with the arrival of bassist / vocalist Dušan Kojić “Koja” and drummer Ivan Vdović “VD”, Limunovo drvo moved into the domain of new wave rock music. After performing as an opening act for Pankrti in April 1980, Mihajlović left the band and the remaining three members changed their name to Šarlo akrobata. Subsequently, the trio recorded four tracks which were released on the 1981 various artists compilation album “Paket aranžman”, now considered to be one of the most influential releases in the history of ex Yugoslav rock music. In the spring 1981, the band recorded their debut album “Bistriji ili tuplji čovek biva kad…”, after which, owing to irreconcilable differences between the band members, the band ceased to exist. The album received critical recognition and is regarded as one of the most notable albums of former Yugoslav rock music.
Šarlo akrobata – “Bistriji ili tuplji čovek…” (1981, Jugoton)
So, if you’ve been looking for a post-punk or an art punk record with capital p which covers the similar breaking ground in YU as perhaps the Pop Group or Rip Rig & Panic debuts in UK, here is the one for you: “Bistriji ili tuplji čovek biva kad…” (1981, Jugoton). Never mind that Beograd didn’t have many ’77 punks of note. After this piece of anarchic work it was not easy to follow. Three super talented friends with mutable characters (they used to be in a hard rock band!) got together, spontaneously combusted and went separate ways. Hard headed bass player didn’t like god damn keyboards and synths. (10/10)
Very soon after the band disbandment Kojić formed Disciplina kičme and Mladenović formed Katarina II (with Mihajlović). A year later Vdović joined Katarina II as drummer and made guest appearances with other groups on the scene.
Električni orgazam was officially formed in early 1980 as punk rock offshoot and support act of Hipnotisano pile. Hipnotisano pile, which got the name by the line from the Iggy Pop song “Lust For Life”, was established in 1979 having late 1970s rock music in mind. Band members simply switched instruments and realized that this initially planned support act works well on its own. Hipnotisano pile soon split into Električni orgazam and Petar i zli vuci.
The following year, after couple of concerts the band had their first studio recorded songs released by Jugoton on the “Paket aranžman”. The success of Paket aranžman provided the band an opportunity to record and release their debut album under the same label. Actually Jugoton even wasted some precious vinyl on Električni orgazam later on.
Anyhow, “Električni orgazam” (Jugoton, 1981), produced by Ivan Stančić “Piko” (drummer from Film, Zagreb), already featured the band’s authentic sound. Srđan Gojković “Gile” (guitar) and Ljubomir Đukić “Ljuba” (organ, keyboards) were main songwriters or at least shared vocal duties throughout the post-punk phase of Električni orgazam. The debut album got positive reactions by both, the audience and the critics, including a review of the album by the NME journalist Kris Bohn, who stated that the band was one of the most exciting non-British acts. Few copies even ended on Rough Trade Records distribution.
Električni orgazam – s/t (1981, Jugoton)
“Električni orgazam” (1981, Jugoton) is middle of the road post-punk album but not in a negative sense. It brought post-punk experimental aspect but retained punk-rock edge and energy. The record opens with the sound of electronic orgasm and ends with magnificent “Nebo” tied with the barbed wire. There is only one throwaway track on the album: “I’ve Got a Feeling” which could also be seen as a seed of band’s future direction. (9/10)
At some point Električni orgazam met a student from Poland, who arranged the three bands from Paket aranžman to perform in Poland, and after Šarlo Akrobata, in November, the band went on a tour of Poland. The performance at Rivijera Remont club, was recorded on a simple tape recorder, later released on the 6-song Warszawa ’81 EP. It was limited to 2000 copies, being the first official bootleg in former Yugoslavia. The rough recordings were post-produced by Slobodan Konjović, presenting a valid document of the band sound, as well as the audience reaction. During the performance of the song “Konobar”, there was a half-minute sound equipment failure, during which a member of the audience dropped tear gas.
Električni orgazam kept on with psychedelic post-punk phase for one more album: “Lišće prekriva Lisabon” (1982, Jugoton) which is a messy (strange song sequence) album with great eerie atmosphere. This time around again the cover version “Alabama” gets award for the most irritating song (vocal performance mainly). The inclusion of the single “Dokolica” as an appendix was unnecessary despite being one of the best songs. Električni orgazam would have fit nicely in Liverpool.
With changing personnel Električni orgazam gradually became YU rock stars. The “rock” was always present in their material, even during early and arty post-punk phase, for example ill-chosen cover versions that could have been released as b-sides of album related singles. However, the “rock” really started to roll with redundant tribute to their favourite rock heroes “Les Chansons Populaires” LP (1983) which was yet another case of vinyl wasting per band by Jugoton label (see Azra) in the times of economic crises. It was followed with uneven “Kako bubanj kaže” LP (1984) – stoned experiment of tripping on pre punk 1970s vibes: the Rolling Stones junky rock, black funk and original reggae/dub. I like this one although critical reviews at the time weren’t that supportive. It finally worked out on playful “Distorzija” (1986) which is some kind of re-birth of Električni orgazam. Some of their rock music with pop hooks was quite good.
Idoli (aka VIS Idoli) were officially formed in the spring 1980. The first lineup consisted of primary school friends Vlada Divljan (guitar, vocals), Zdenko Kolar (bass), Boža Jovanović (drums) and Divljan’s high school friends Srđan Šaper (percussion, vocals) and Nebojša Krstić (percussion). At that time the band collaborated with Dragan Papić who was a kind of media activist. The band manipulated the media very well.
In general, Idoli were one of the most popular new wave acts in this part of the world. For a short period there was even confrontational edge to their pop tunes. They experimented with the sound in the studio which brought them closer to post-punk side of things. Half of the band consisted of musicians the other half were non musicians with ideas who sang and wrote lyrics for their own songs or played simple synth parts or percussion.
After only a month of existence, the band released their first single with a magazine called “Vidici” and it consisted of two tracks, “Pomoć, pomoć” and “Retko te viđam sa devojkama” a song with a gay-hint. The band recorded another version of the track as a B-side of Maljčiki single, but this time in Zagreb with the producer Goran Bregović (Bijelo dugme). They also played at the 1980 Festival Omladina, where new wave bands from Zagreb and Belgrade met for the first time.
Idoli participated in the project called Paket aranžman with four tracks amongst them “Maljčiki” (Russian for “boys”, a parody on Social-Realist art and propaganda). The promotional video for “Maljčiki” was banned on national television and some radio stations after the Soviet embassy responded.
The next release was a self-titled EP featuring six tracks of which two were cover versions: Chuck Berry’s “Come On” (“Hajde”) and Darko Kraljić’s “Devojko mala”. Film members Mladen Juričić playing harmonica and Jurij Novoselić who played organ made guest appearances. The record was produced by another Film member, Ivan Stančić Piko.
The band started working on their first album in autumn 1981 with Goran Vejvoda as additional member. The recording of the album took more than 400 hours which was a record in former Yugoslavia (not something to be proud of really, from the generally econo-punk point of view of this blog). “Odbrana i poslednji dani” LP (1982, Jugoton) got the name from a Borislav Pekić book with the same title on which the whole album is based. It is a complex concept album dealing with an anthropological approach towards orthodoxy. The track “Poslednji dani” originally entitled “Maršal”, dedicated to former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito, did not include the last verse due to the record company disapproval.
Idoli “Odbrana i poslednji dani” (1982, Jugoton)
“Odbrana i poslednji dani” (typeset in the Cyrillic alphabet) was voted best YU album of the 1980s by various (Serbian) music critics. Have you ever wondered how the soundtrack for a gender change (DIY style, with a rusty razor blade in a steamy bathroom lit with candles and burning incense) might sound like? Hysterical! (10/10)
Sometime in 1982 short-lived Propaganda (ex Zvuk ulice) released one-off album entitled “Apatija javnosti” (PGP RTB). The lineup included Kokan Popović, at the time drummer for Idoli. Allegedly the few songs were composed back in the days of Zvuk ulice. The mixture of ancient (schlager) and modern (synths) is similar to Idoli only with different ratio, but the songs themselves are simpler and less memorable or important. The album opens with unnecessary cover (lyrics) of a Romani folk song. Nicely recorded album though with interesting synth soundscapes, forgotten somewhere in between “Odbrana i poslednji dani” (1982) and “Čokolada” (1983) by Idoli.
In July 1982 Idoli started recording a new album in London with producer Bob Painter. They changed their style to pop/rock and as a result the new album, appropriately named “Chocolate” (or rather ”šećerna tabla”), went platinum and the title track became their greatest commercial hit. Guest appearances on the album were reporter Vivien Goldman who was a guest vocalist and producer Bob Painter who played the keyboards. The original idea was to release a double EP called “U gradu bez sna”, but Jugoton refused and released it as a long play album. Idoli gone New Romantic! Truth be told, they were under heavy spell of Venus from the very beginning. There are few lovely and lite pop tunes on “Čokolada” (1983, Jugoton) including beautiful “Vetar i zastave” which hinted at white reggae from earlier experimental period of the band.
ARTISTIČKA RADNA AKCIJA
Belgrade 1979/81 (basement punk) generation was documented on various artist record appropriately called ARA recorded in the spring ‘81. It is recommended for listening but approach with caution and patience of benevolent high school teacher. However, if you take in consideration a fact that half of the record was made by kids averaging 16 and the rest by young men fresh out of high-school, it is somehow adequate with all its shortcomings. The youngest bands are originally from the same bunch of kids so it can sound one-dimensional and very basic. Radnička kontrola participated with two skeletal art punk numbers for this compilation and later gave crucial members to new bands in town: Disciplina kičme (bass & drum duo) & Partibrejkers (talented street punk-rock band with garage blues edge that became Serbian rock institution led by iconic Cane). I recommend their first single and s/t debut very much. Another gang of teen punks Urbana gerila split up soon but some members chose post-punk path into the darkness and transformed into Berliner Strasse. They recorded a couple of demo tracks and disappeared. Two of them are now famous persons in Serbia – writer Arsenijević and journalist Rosić. Their drummer Krasavac became the founding member and the first drummer in Disciplina kičme as well as one of the first expatriates. Kebra from Obojeni program (hailing from Novi Sad) was one time guerilla member too. Defektno efektni simply disappeared leaving only two recorded tracks. At least Profili profili became Kazimirov kazneni korpus and left behind minimalist post-punk traces in the shape of ad hoc samizdat cassette (SKC Beograd, 1982). Song material was based on trance inducing repetition principle and jamming. They were sporadically appearing on the city scene until the mid-decade. Petar i zli vuci (ex Hipnotisano pile) crowned their brief life with an inspired ska single.
Various Artists – Artistička radna akcija (1981, Jugoton)
Pasta ZZ songs seemed like main jokers in the package and after their immediate split their members filled in the line-ups of other bands. TV moroni didn’t last longer but from their ranks came band Nesalomivi and famous movie director Srđan Dragojević. Bezobrazno zeleno were indeed greenhorns as most of kids on ARA. Two years later they managed to get a contract for a debut album. It was recorded by changed line-up that lost innocence in the meantime getting high on sex & r’n’r and becoming rude. In their take on new wave rock Bezobrazno zeleno were looking back at the Who rock excesses from the barley mature stance of the Jam. Original line-up of Via talas participated with two cover versions in lite new wave pop style. Two years later as synth-pop duo Talas they put out a decent album. U škripcu pop art numbers were memorable enough and served as intro for their debut – an excellent new wave art-rock or post-punk album issued by PGP RTB the following year.
The closest to expected attempts at punk (usual either Sex Pistols or Ramones blueprint) would be Radost Evrope a punk rock band of sorts that had rehearsals and performed at the Belgrade SKC, mainly cover versions of the Ramones songs, but also had their own material. The band did not leave any recordings, and performed until 1985, when they disbanded. However, part of the material from Radost Evrope concert repertoire appeared on singer Velibor Miljković (aka Toni Montano) debut solo album. There were few other undocumented punk rock bands from that generation like Krvna zrnca i Solunski front. The latter one would become premier hard-core punk band few years later. Something like U.B.R. in Slovenia.
There are many fans of first two LPs by Piloti (formed in 1981 with main singer/song writer Zoran “Kiki” Lesendrić on vocals and guitar) but their innocent earnestness can grate my ears on a wrong day. Song “Ne veruj u idole” from their self-titled debut album became an instant hit, and was included on several new wave compilation records. After the success with their debut album, the softer followup “Dvadeset godina” LP (PGP RTB) produced by Saša Habić, was released already the following year.
BEOGRAD POST ŠARLO AKROBATA
Disciplina kičme is a one of the two spin-offs of the seminal Yugoslav new wave/post-punk band Šarlo akrobata, the other being heated rivals Katarina II (EKV). Musically, they are best described as an aggressive and artistic rhythmic explosion, experimenting and seeking out new expressiveness while finding inspiration in the traditions of punk rock, hip-hop, jazz fusion, funk and Jimi Hendrix.
The band was formed by former Limunovo drvo and Šarlo akrobata bassist and vocalist Dušan Kojić “Koja” in late 1981 with former Urbana gerila drummer Nenad Krasavac “Kele”. The following year Krasavac went to serve JNA and was replaced by former Radnička kontrola drummer (and later famous actor) Srđan “Žika” Todorović. “Sviđa mi se da ti ne bude prijatno” was recorded in 12/’82 and released in very small circulation by Slovenian record label Helidon in early 1983. The album cuts presented Kojić’s dominant bass lines combined with the aggressive sound of Todorović’s drums somewhat smoothed around the edges in the studio.
Disciplina kičme – “Sviđa mi se…” (1983, Helidon)
“Sviđa mi se da ti ne bude prijatno” (I like when you feel uncomfortable) could be a motto of Dušan Kojić Koja, self-proclaimed super hero (approved!), super opinionated loudmouth, relentless creative power, unapologetic contrarian, and in many ways beneficiary of ex-YU underground. Koja’s initial impressions with accidental studio minimalism of “Flowers of Romance” by Public Image Ltd might have led to possibilities of exploring the sound as minimalist bass & drum duo. On the other side of the world at the same time something similar, although more complex and jazz inflected, was developing in Canada, in the basement of Nomeansno parents’ house. (10/10)
After the album release, the band continued performing in major Yugoslav cities, mainly in clubs, and in 1985, they released “Ja imam šarene oči” EP, recorded in late ’83, again with Todorović on drums. Original drummer Krasavac (temporary victim of JNA) appeared only on “28. jun 1984” recorded live at Belgrade’s SKC. Kojić produced the EP himself in “Druga Maca” studio and for the first time included a trumpet in the lineup. From this release onward, all of the band releases were produced by Kojić himself.
The second long play album “Svi za mnom!” released in 1986 by Helidon, brought some lineup (2 drummers & a brass section featuring 2 trumpets and a saxophone) and stylistic changes. After the album release, for the first time in their history, the band were taken seriously by the media and the critics, however, drummer Krasavac left the band, moving to the United States, where he currently resides. The band celebrated the fifth anniversary and released a live album, “Najlepši hitovi! Uživo!” recorded in November 1986 at the Belgrade club Akademija.
Following the disbandment of Šarlo Akrobata, in February 1982, Milan Mladenović (guitar, vocals) with Gagi Mihajlović (ex Limunovo drvo) formed the band Katarina II. Soon the band was joined by the classically trained pianist Margita Stefanović. When the original rhythm section (Dušan Dejanović (drums) & Zoran Radomirović “Švaba” (bass)) had changed, the vacant drummer position was taken over Milan’s former bandmate from Šarlo akrobata Ivan Vdović “VD”. At the same time, in early 1983, Bojan Pečar, a former (Via) Talas bassist became the new band member. In the spring of 1983 the band took part in Zagreb Biennale and received positive reviews. Their material for the debut album material was recorded soon after in the “Druga Maca” studio. Unfortunately, due to low quality the material was unusable.
Later in the year the band took the offer to re-record the material for the debut album in RTV Ljubljana studios. Katarina II eponymous debut album was recorded in 12/’83 and eventually released in 1984. Among the best songs are “Vrt” and “Platforme” written by Mihajlović.
Katarina II – ZKP RTVL 1984 – central post-punk album from BG
“Katarina II” (ZKP RTVL, 1984) could be a pick for central new wave/post punk album from Beograd (from the viewpoint of this blog) although not perfect in itself due to some experimental filler and generally weaker B-side. Ex Šarlo akrobata guitar player was the one who liked music with keyboards. On this record actually there were two exceptional guitarists / authors from the period. Imagine Talking Heads, XTC, and Simple Minds influences mixed with enough live energy that pushes the band toward the styles of Minutemen or Meat Puppets. (9/10)
Soon after the album release, the band went through more lineup changes and the remaining members continued working as Ekatarina Velika or EKV for short. Due to constant SFR Yugoslavia-wide touring, with frequent stops in Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana, and occasional TV spots, the band’s popularity had gradually grown.
At the beginning of 1985, the band recorded their second studio album, or first under moniker EKV, at the Zagreb SIM studio. Well, looking back while re-listening I wish they had stayed in Beograd at least for this album and recorded it live-in-the-studio (old analogue one), with Saša Habić as a sound engineer for example. Recording engineers in Zagreb were good enough but SIM studio equipped with digital technology has not proved to be the best choice for a rock band in essence.
The following year, the new lineup released the third studio album “S vetrom uz lice“. The album was produced extensively using the Emulator II 8-bit sampler. At the time it received lukewarm reviews from the critics complaining about the similarities to the works of the Simple Minds. Despite a couple of good songs (then and now regional hits) the album is very polished and sounds dated. Fortunately there is also full-blooded “Live 1986” album.
EKV – Live! 1986 (1987, ZKP RTVL)
EKV – the beautiful and damned. Lepi i prokleti.
U škripcu were formed in 1980 by Zoran Vulović “Vule” (keyboards), Milan Delčić “Delča” (vocals) and Aleksandar Vasiljević “Vasa” (guitar), who decided to expand the lineup of their former band to Miloš Obrenović (drums) and Aleksandar Lukić (bass guitar), and change their name to U škripcu. At the time of their formation, the band was a part of the Yugoslav new wave scene, the period of work which was documented on the seminal 1981 various artists compilation album “Artistička radna akcija”. With the debut album release, the 1982 “Godine ljubavi”, the band moved towards more experimental post-punk sound, before achieving nationwide commercial success with the release of the album “O je!” & EP “Nove godine!” in 1983, under the influence of New Romanticism. The original lineup recorded yet another album, the synth-pop “Budimo zajedno” (1985), which did not repeat the commercial success of its predecessors, causing the group to disband.
U škripcu – Godine ljubavi (1982, PGP RTB)
Debut album “Godine ljubavi” (1982) is much underrated and fairly forgotten record. I totally dig it because of cool synthesizer sounds (DEVO and Pere Ubu), delicate guitar playing and inspired vocalist. (10/10)
Partibrejkers (transliteration for: Partybreakers) were formed in 1982 and released its first album, “Partibrejkers I” in 1985 in a two guitars, drums and vocal set (no bass guitar!). The band has experienced numerous line-up changes. The mainstays of the band are Zoran Kostić “Cane” (vocals) and Nebojša Antonijević “Anton” (guitar). The band has received steady critical acclaim over the years and is well received by audiences all over former Yugoslavia. Their influences are diverse, such as the Stooges, MC5, early Rolling Stones and New York Dolls, combined with blues, British rhythm-and-blues, rockabilly and classic rock and roll.
They had their first public appearance in autumn 1982. Partibrejkers were often performing in concert and on one occasion, in Zagreb, they held five concerts in three days’ time, Branimir “Johnny” Štulić (Azra) being the sound engineer at the last concert, and even offering to be the band’s producer. The band’s first recording, the song “Radio Utopia”, was released on the various artists compilation Ventilator 202 in 1983 by PGP-RTB. Demo versions of the songs “Hiljadu godina” and “Večeras” were often broadcast on Serbian radio stations, and the newly recorded versions of the songs were released as their first single in 1984.
Partibrejkers – Partibrejkers I (1985, Jugoton)
For the release of the band’s first album, “Partibrejkers I”, produced by Dušan Kojić “Koja” of Disciplina kičme, the band combined rhythm-and-blues with punk rock, bringing anthem status to the band’s songs like “Ulični hodač” (“Street Walker”). The album was recorded at the “O Studio” in Belgrade in June 1984. Despite the success of the debut album, Jugoton declined to release the band’s second album, stating that it “lacked rebelliousness”. In the summer of 1985, drummer Bulatović left the band, being temporarily replaced by Disciplina kičme drummer Nenad Krasovac “Kele”, and in December, the band stopped being active for a couple of years.
Young new wave (3rd generation) demo band Duh Nibor were trying to find its place in Beograd for couple of years. They even played at YURM ’84 in Zagreb.
SYNTH POP DEPT BEOGRAD / CLUBBING IN BELGRADE
Synth department of Beograd is sort of interesting.
The city’s central synth pop band in Human League style would be Beograd. I like their promising first single (two minimal synth tunes) quite a lot. Debut album that followed, entitled “Remek depo” (1983, PGP RTB), is only decent because it lacks good dose of “dirt” or electronic white noise to be excellent. Too much time spent in wrong side of Sheffield. Haj’mo (ex Beograd) were techno-pop band active in the mid 1980s and formed by Ljubodrag Bubalo after he left Beograd. They released one 12” record.
Du-Du-A was formed in 1983 in NYC by Dejan Kostić (ex Grupa I) and Wayne Adams. Their music at the time was a mixture of styles such as funk, reggae and rap. On debut album “Primitivni ples” (1983, PGP RTB) Du-Du-A was presented as slick party collective, not to be taken too seriously. They could compete with NYC mutant disco clubbing scene for sure.
D’Boys were sleazy trendy synth-pop duo. Bravo Jugoton, what a tasty pick! Anyway, one of the boys has pictorial background worth mentioning. The band (!?) was formed in 1982, consisting of two musicians: Peđa D’Boy (Predrag Jovanović on vocals & guitar) and Miško Mihajlovski, who reportedly “played the drum machine” and percussion. Jovanović was previously a vocalist for Lutalice, performed in cafes in France, spent some time on Goa beaches performing with jazz and rock musicians from all over the world, & was a vocalist for the German progressive/krautrock band Jane with whom he recorded their 1980 self-titled album. Mihajlovski was previously a member of the new wave/art rock band Kozmetika and was one of the artists gathered around “Izgled” magazine.
Max & Intro synth pop duo started out promising. The record label was not of that opinion and dropped them after their first (promo) single was recognized as commercially fallible. Couple of early demo tracks are equally good. I like this single much better than contemporary one by Data.
Data was synth-pop band active in period 1980-1985 that left one slightly tepid synthetic single. It was founded by Zoran Jevtić and Zoran Vračević – the pioneers of electronic music in former Yugoslavia. I am looking forward to hearing forthcoming compilation “Could You Find Your Analog Mind?” to be released in Germany soon. Data side projects were The Master Scratch Band, that released Dégout EP (1984) – the first hip hop record ever in Yugoslavia, & girl fronted pop group Šizike.
Laki pingvini were new wave synth pop group with big hit song from their first 12”, sort of suitable for nostalgic parties with pop hits on repertoire.
Talas (synth pop duo version of Via talas) recorded fine pop record with lovely and pretentious title “Perfektan dan za banana ribe” LP (1983) (named after Salinger’s short story – obligatory literature for post-punkers) and then they split drowned. In a way, at the time of album Talas consisted of singer Mira Mijatović backed by Katarina II members. Bassist Bojan Pečar joined Katarina II in the process.
Other side of (a bit older) power pop new wave (or synth pop-rock), popular with the masses, was embodied in Zana (Nimani). Couple of early singles and albums (1980-82) are graced with attractive synth sounds and usual cheap pop tricks. Not bad at all, occasionally.
NEW EASTERN EUROPEAN ROMANTICS / DOWN BY DANUBE
A pioneer of sorts would be a “decadent” cross-dresser Oliver Mandić who liked disco, art-rock singers ala Bowie, pop provocation and Belgrade (drug) parties.
Idoli with their last and disappointing album “Čokolada” (1983) mingled with this crowd.
U škripcu had similar fate and downward slide as Idoli – their interesting art rock exploration in post-punk times ended as bland pop. If the 1982 was the official beginning of their years of love then the 1983 was a populist one and full of promises for a new romance traced over second LP “O je!” and “Nove godine!” 12-inch. Then they lost inspiration and purpose perhaps being preoccupied with New Pop theories or whatever it was in the air or written in UK music press waging wars against rock music.
Jakarta’s elegant take on new wave pop rock with white funk overtones shared some common ground with Boa (ZG), Heroina (NS) and early EKV. Their debut album is appropriately and professionally recorded by Saša Habić.
SOFT POP-ROCK (ex-YU STYLE)
Bajaga i instruktori (ex Riblja čorba, ex Bulevar) were mega popular pop/rock band with plenty of hit singles that never left radio air waves. Bajaga even produced debut by Bezobrazno zeleno prior to his own new band’s debut release. Quite a few new wave bands turned to salable pop/rock format in mid 1980s. There were more than enough of them in Beograd too.
HARD CORE PUNK: RACKET & ROAR!!
Solunski front over the years became an excellent hard-core band with impressive Demo ’84 recorded in Činč’s studio in Ljubljana. Other two earliest hard-core groups in town were: (Herpes) Distress who also left behind them more complex studio demo (recently re-issued as “Izdaja ljudskih prava” LP) & Necrophilia (UK ’82 street-punk: Discharge and G.B.H. thick guitar sound). They were compiled on the various HC artists tape “Buka & urlik” (1983) that had three slightly different issues of which the first one seems to be the best one. Less is more or less similar tracks for the more immediate impact! “Buka & urlik” ’83 BG is as good as “Kaj je alternativa?” ’83 LJ. One of the subsequent hard-core sampler releases titled “Beograd OK!” (1986) presented the second generation with names like Mrgudi, Crist, Yugoslav Sun, Ženmin Žibao, Thrashagain and K.Z.V. I am not familiar with them.
Don’t Look Back vol. VI: Beograd (1-2-ex-YU!!)
VA BG ’81 – Fenomen beogradskog novotalasnog proljeća
Radnička kontrola – Dosada
Urbana gerila – Proces
Šarlo akrobata – Fenomen
Defektno efektni – “D”
Električni orgazam – Nebo
Petar i zli vuci – Kozaci
TV moroni – Moja borba
Bezobrazno zeleno – Beograd
Via talas – Hawaii (najlepši kraj) (cover)
Idoli – Ime da da
Piloti – Ne veruj u idole
Pasta ZZ – Drakula
U škripcu – Južno voće
Profili profili – Nemir živaca
Beograd – Sanjaš li u boji?
Zana – Ti si neko staro lice
VA BG ’82 – Post-Punk Synth Wave
Idoli – Kenozoik
Idoli – Odbrana
U škripcu – Kao u boji
U škripcu – Proleće
Profili profili – Ventilatori
Kazimirov kazneni korpus – Paralitično šizoidne devojke #3
Električni orgazam – Leptir
Električni orgazam – Dokolica
Propaganda – Ponovo u Beogradu
Propaganda – 18. novembar
Kozmetika – Utisci
Kozmetika – Jedne noći na terasi na moru
Beograd – Ulice su noćas
Beograd – Kontrolori
Disciplina kičme – Pečati
Disciplina kičme – Ti znaš da tvoja soba ima 4 ugla
Over and out, the rest of October listening will be dedicated to hard & heavy rock. With some heavy metal thrown in.