Monday, September 28, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 123: Llega La Destrucción [Spain 2]

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TDATS introduces sixteen new names for Volume 123, the second collection of Spanish bands, after 39: Bandera Inmortal. Most of the usual suspects were covered in that episode, and like The Netherlands for example, searching for further heaviness means looking through all the bands that only made singles, EPs and unreleased material. As such, only five of the 16 tracks here are from albums originally released at the time of the bands. Singles, EPs and archival recordings make up the rest. The searches never end though, and even as I write this I am finding new Spanish discoveries, including LPs, so lets hope there'll be more to come later, as what's here is really good!

Eva Rock at "The Invasion of Filth"
Eva Rock at
"The Invasion of Filth"
During making this I found out about the "15 horas de Música Pop de Burgos" festival, in Burgos in 1975. It appears to have been Spain's first important rock fest with music ranging from pop to hard rock and prog. Bands that have appeared in TDATS before played it, like Triana, Storm and Eduardo Bort. A new band appearing in this volume called Burning also played it. The fest has since passed into legend, now known infamously as "La invasión de la cochambre" (The invasion of filth) after the hoards of back-packing hippies and free lovers that homed in on it. You can read more here and here.

Mix master Mara B. Stones (mixcloud) has done a great job of embellishing this volume and rounding it off with cool quotes from acid psych compilations and some old movies. Enjoy!


01. Albert Band - Ella Tiene El Cabello Rubio [1970]
02. Los Buenos - Oh, Pretty Woman (Albert King cover) [1969]
03. Los Sirex - Yo Grito [1966]
       from four-track EP 'Los Sirex'
04. Furia - Solamente Tú [1973]
05. Colores - Rompecabezas [1975]
       from ep 'Es Mejor Olvidarn'
06. Clock - Hang On (Confía) [1971]
07. Armada - Cry [1972]
08. Darwin Teoría - De la Ceca a la Meca [1970]
09. Shock! - I Am Blind [1970]
       from album 'Shock!'
10. Smash - Fail Safe [1971]
       from album 'We Come To Smash This Time'
11. Franklin - What Is Wrong? [1973]
       from album 'Franklin I 1971 - 1973'
12. Rockcelona - Queen, Friend And Dread [1979]
       from album 'La Bruja'
13. Burning - I'm Burning (Estoy Ardiendo) [1975]
       from album 'Live at the European Pop Jury'
14. Moon - ¿Por Qué os Portáis Así? [1978]
15. Crack - Descenso en el Mahellstrong [1979]
       from album 'Si Todo Hiciera Crack'
16. Zarpa - Llega La Destrucción [1978]
       from album 'Los 4 Jinetes Del Apocalypsis'

Albert Band
Albert Band
Catalonia's Albert Band made decent pop singles around 1968-1970, and for one they made a real belter called 'Ella Tiene El Cabello Rubio' (She has blonde hair). Amusingly this particular single was released on a label actually called "Belter"! In fact, Finders Keepers Records has made a comp of Belter singles called "Absolute Belter" (link). It would appear the band's name comes from singer, Albert Garriga. Albert Band appeared at the third "Festival internacional de la canción de Màlaga" in 1970, where you can see them in the program (link).

Los Buenos
Los Buenos
On to similar pop band heaviness territory for the next track from Madrid's Los Buenos. Julián Granados (link) is the front man here, he was also in Los Angeles and The Brisks, as well as being a solo artist. Some other interesting links from this band: guitarist Johnny Galvao was in Aguaviva who appear in Vol49, bassist Ignacio Egaña made a solo LP in 1974 called "Karma", and keyboardist Rod Mayall was the half-brother of John Mayall. He moved to Spain after leaving Ivan's Meads. After Los Buenos he joined The Pipe from South America who played latin-flavoured rock. Read more about that here (link).

Time for some 1966 fuzz from Barcelona's Los Sirex. At the end of 1960 the band consisted of Antoni Miquel Cerveró ("Leslie" or "L'Anxoveta") as lead vocalist, Lluís Gomis (Lluís Gomis de Prunera, 1944-2012, RIP) on drums, Josep Fontseré Portolés on the rhythm guitar, Guillermo Rodríguez Holgado on bass and Manolo Madruga on lead guitar. They named the band after a component of eyeglasses manufacture: Guillermo worked at his father's glasses factory. The first performance of Los Sirex was at a Barça football fan club (Penya barcelonista), followed by concerts at The Tropical in Castelldefels. Reportedly their daring lyrics caused them trouble with Spanish censorship. The band has occasionally reformed and played as recently as 2012.

Another Barcelona group comes in at track four, Furia. They formed in 1970 from ex-members of a band called Los Gatos Negros, who themselves came from 'Catch As Catch Can' of the late '50s. Like Albert Band, Furia had some singles on Belter records. Furia were not a particularly heavy band but like many at that time you can find the goods on some of their B-sides, like "Solamente Tú" (Only you) included here. It has a chunky riff and a great freakout guitar solo.

Next up is an extremely rare EP from a band called Colores. According to RYM (link) they were from Madrid, and included José Luis Ortega (keyboards), Manuel de Dios (guitar, vocals), Rafa Insúa (bass) and Rafa Ramos (drums). They made a four track EP around 1975 which is some good heavy prog / psych with hammond organ. It sounds a few years behind the times for 1975 but none the less it's solid and worth a listen, although it's rarity might make that hard as it goes for around €100. I used the track "Rompecabezas" in this comp, and here's another track from the EP, "Es Mejor Olvidar" (youtube).

Clock had some singles out on the Barcelona label, Dimensión (link). This small label was responsible for a couple of other bands that have been used here in TDATS, Evolution and Cerebrum. Clock themselves were more of a pop band than heavy, but they made good music and B-side "Hang On" is a very groovy, brassy little number with some good heft, one for the dance floors indeed.

There's almost no useful online information about Armada. They seem to have only made one single on the German Ariola label, but it's a good one, both sides. The heaviest cut is B-side "Cry" but the A-side "People (Summer Song)" (youtube) is fun too. The only snippet I have come across so far is that the band was started by one-time guitarist of Barcelona's Lone Star, Alex Sánchez. If you'd like to read some more in Spanish, there's a discussion board thread that mentions Alex and Armada here: Spanish / English autotranslation. It states that other than Lone Star, Alex was in groups Los Íberos, The Pipe, Los Zooms and The Food. I wonder if that is the same The Pipe mentioned above re: Los Buenos.

Darwin Teoría (Darwin Theory) are up next, they had some singles on the Poplandia label (link), which distributed in Spain some European bands that have appeared here before, like Geordie and Shocking Blue. B-side "Hello Memories" (youtube) is a great piece of Mungo Jerry-like heavy pop and I have included here the A-Side "De la Ceca a la Meca" (From Pillar to Post) which has some awesome growling fuzz and wah guitar, the way we like it.

Here is what the Spanish re-issue label Guerssen says about Shock!: "We are very excited to present what is for us a major discovery in the Spanish Psych-Prog collector scene: a previously unreleased album from 1970 by this obscure Spanish garage-psych band. Until now, Shock were a total mystery. They only released one 45 back at the time (the killer acid- fuzz punker "No se puede ser Superman")  (youtube) and nothing was known about the band...until we tracked them down.

We discovered that prior to their 45 release, they recorded a whole album which was never released. Shock's music is underground garage- psychedelia with crude acid- fuzz guitar, effects, English vocals...think of Agua de Regaliz, early Pan & Regaliz, Cerebrum or even obscure Brazilian bands such as Tobruk but with a more primitive sound. The album features ten songs including the original versions of the two tracks later re- recorded for their only 45: "No se puede ser Superman" (titled here "I'm being mad", it's a different and superior English sung version) and "I want to laugh" (a longer version than the one included on the 45). Remastered from the original 2- track tape"

Smash were a quality band from Seville who played a few different styles over two albums and could wig out with the best of them when they wanted, as "Fail Safe" shows. This is ten minutes of grungy punks letting loose and enjoying themselves, hypnotising the listener with with a relentless barrage of staccato riffing and stoned jamming. It's a real blast this one.

Prog archives (link): "Spanish prog rock with flamenco sitar. Formed by the sitar / guitar player Gualberto in 1967. The band Smash recorded at the beginning of the seventies two classic rarities of psych / prog rock for Philips label ("Glorieta de los Lotos" in 1970 and "We Come To Smash This Time" in 1971) . The early death of the vocalist Julio Matito marked the end of the band's adventure. In itself, Smash's music has similarities with the Moody Blues and Vanilla Fudge's psychedelic mood. The flamenco touch is evident, applying on traditional "palos" (tarantos.) thanks to Manuel Molina's guitar style. In parallel the leader Gualberto has recorded a few progressive albums with Ricardo Mino, mixing Hindu music to conventional Spanish flamenco guitar works."

Franklin were a late entry here after I saw a post in the TDATS fb group while I was finishing this. I'm glad it was posted as this is a killer track that mixes hard rock riffs and heavy psych to perfection. The El Cocodrilo label (link) released a double LP of all their recordings in 2007, the track I have used here is taken from the first-half LP of that, which is a collection of all their unreleased tracks pre-1973. The second LP is a complete unreleased 1974 album called Life Circle, that was recorded by an altered line-up and is more towards prog rock: "Franklin was one of the first underground groups in Spain, formed in the late '60s by several of the best musicians living in Madrid at the time.

Founded in 1971 by Pablo Weeber and Antonio García de Diego (with Mariano Díaz on keyboards, M. A., Rojas on bass & Juan Cánovas on drums), backed by producers Maryní Callejo and Teddy Bautista. They released a single which included a brutal version of the Stones' Satisfaction that appeared in the Andergraun Vibrations 2 (link).

In 1974, the group recorded a whole album which was unpublished until now; 'Life circle' is a concept album, much more prog-rock than their previous recordings. Conceptually, it has similarities with the Ciclos de Canarios (a group that had connections with them). Nine tracks full of guitar, minimoog, mellotron, keys and some experimental space and near the symphonic passages, all sung in English. They split-up in 1976."

Continuing into heavier territory, "Queen, Friend And Dread" from Barcelona's Rockcelona hits you hard.The LP it's taken from is like this all the way through, it never lets up. This unique and timeless collision between punk, heavy metal and garage rock recorded in 1979 is a real gem for anyone out there who looks for the ultimate in unrelenting fuzz. The group was founded in 1977 by Alfredo Valcárcel, and recorded only one album called "La Bruja" (The Witch).

The heavy metal continues with Madrid's Burning and another of the heaviest tracks here. This one really opens up like some prime NWOBHM which is surprising to say the least for a Spanish band in 1975. Burning was started in 1974 by José Casas ("Pepe Risi", guitar), Antonio Martin ("Toño Martin", vocals), Johnny Cifuentes (keyboards) Enrique Perez (bass) and Ernesto Estepa ("Tito" drums). In this grouping they recorded some singles including the song used here, and then started making albums in 1978, continuing to the present day. Although Burning began singing in English, they are regarded as one of the first Spanish hard rock bands to popularise singing in Spanish, which they did toward the late '70s.

Moon was formed in Madrid in 1974 with Alberto Martin (guitar, vocals), Carlos Navascuas (bass) and Peter Martin (drums). Later Manolo Hernandez joined the band on vocals. Moon were in a movement of Spanish rock that became known as "Viva el Rollo !!" and they were included on a compilation record with that name (link). This important record helped spawn the likes of  famous bands like Leno, Asfalto, Bloque, Topo and Ñu toward the late '70s. The Moon track I have used here is a heavy single from 1978 with more NWOBHM -ish metal going on!

A reprieve from the heaviness and into some prog. Crack came from Gijon, the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. The members were Alex Cakrul (bass), Alberto Fontaneda (guitar, flute and vocals), Mento Heria (keybaords and vocals), Manda Jimenez (drums) and Rafael Rodriguez (guitar). Their only album "Si Todo Hiciera Crack" (1979) is one of the classics of Spanish progressive Rock. It contains seven tracks, all with a great harmony between keyboards, guitar and flute. There are hints of early Genesis and Jethro Tull.

And to finish with some more heavy metal, we have Zarpa, from Valencia. Front man Vicente Feijóo is the only original member and they are still playing to this day. Their first LP "Los 4 Jinetes Del Apocalypsis", which was originally released on tape only, is one of the best of Spain's early heavy metal albums. It was finally remastered in 2006, before which few people had heard it due to it's rarity. Their most recent LP was "Bestias del Poder", only last year.

Buenas Noches!

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 122: Sonata in Z [long tracks]

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Six masterful songs around ten minutes in length each. To make amends for generally avoiding long tracks in these comps, here's an hour's worth of nothing but long, heavy prog tracks that have space to breath, and go to some amazing places...

All these names are new to the blog and many of you will recognise them I'm sure. The UK, the US, Germany and Japan are all represented by talented bands that liked to push the envelope and take rock music into deeper realms than your average four minute axe-bashers. Here's some more results of the amazing experimentation that progressive rock and psych explored during those important times, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire the heavy bands of today. Just in case you are wondering, this is guaranteed 100% drum solo-free!


01. Steamhammer - Telegram (1972) - 11:54
       from album 'Speech'
02. Road - Road (1972) - 9:08
       from album 'Road'
03. Fusion Orchestra - Sonata In Z (1973) - 11:41
       from album 'Skeleton In Armour'
04. Silberbart - God (1971) - 10:07
       from album '4 Times Sound Razing'
05. Eiliff - Uzzek Of Rigel IV (1972) - 10:46
       from album 'Eiliff'
06. Horizon (1980) - 10:33
       from album 'Horizon'

Steamhammer - "Speech"
Speech LP
This set opens with Steamhammer's "Telegram", from their final LP, "Speech". They are a hard band to describe concisely as they had a revolving-door lineup and made four albums that varied in style and quality. A quick look here shows how many members passed through, although founding guitarist Martin Pugh was a constant.

After Steamhammer split in 1973, Pugh and bassist Louis Cennamo joined up with former Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf and drummer Bobby Caldwell (ex-Captain Beyond) to form Armageddon in 1975 (see Vol26). I really dig "Telegram", it's an extremely heavy and evil-sounding prog workout, all twelve minutes of it. The LP may be an acquired taste in it's entirety though, as one third of the whole album is taken up by a drum solo of over ten minutes, something hard to take for even the most patient prog fan!

Track two, although not typical of the album it comes from, introduces itself with a passing similarity to Sabbath's tri-tone riffage. Road started in Los Angeles in 1970. With bassist/vocalist Noel Redding (previously of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Fat Mattress), guitarist/vocalist Rod Richards (formerly of Rare Earth) and drummer/vocalist Leslie Sampson. They recorded one album in 1972 called "Road" and disbanded shortly after.

They got together after Redding left Fat Mattress and Richards left Rare Earth. During Road's existence, Redding and Sampson were involved in jam sessions that resulted in Randy California's 1972 "Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds" album (see Vol5). Following Road, Redding and Sampson formed The Noel Redding Band, while Richards went on to a solo career. Sampson also joined Stray Dog, (see Vol8) played in The Gas in the early '80s and Sally Barker And The Rhythm and The Pirates in the '90s.

The following is a piece of a Noel Redding Interview that I found here:
"Do you think that Jimi was being manipulated by the music industry when the 'Experience broke up?"
NR:- I think he was under pressure, because there were all these contracts going down that no-one knew nothing about. Hendrix wasn't coming up with the same quality material because the record company was saying that he had to come up with stuff "comparable" to his previous stuff. I do think the guy was a bit lost and I do think he was getting manipulated business wise. The poor guy, bless him, just needed some time off. He should have come to Ireland for a year!

"Do you think the music industry has changed much over the years?"
NR:- Not really, I still don't get paid.

"After you left the 'Experience what did you do?"
NR:- Well, I'd had the Fat Mattress earlier as a writing outlet for songs and that. When I left the 'Experience, the Fat Mattress did a German tour and an American tour, then that all collapsed as well and I was living in Los Angeles. I had another band called Road. A three piece Heavy Metal type thing, and in 1972 I moved to Ireland.

Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour line-up, clockwise from left, Dave Bell, Stan Land, Dave Cowell, Colin Dawson and Jill Saward
Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour
line-up. Clockwise from left, Dave Bell,
Stan Land, Dave Cowell, Colin Dawson
and Jill Saward
Fusion Orchestra might be of interest to Babe Ruth fans, or those of Room. Frequently-heavy prog with a great front woman in Jill Saward, who also played flute, keyboard and more. The sole album 'Skeleton In Armour' is good progressive rock, drawing in many influences from Canterbury scene to hard rock, thankfully the band has a great attack and this LP keeps up momentum throughout, as you can hear in tracks like the one appearing here, and "Have I Left The Gas On?".

On the album, she is joined by the three founding members Dave Bell (drums), Stan Land (2nd guitar) and Colin Dawson (lead guitar). Dave Cowell played bass. Later in the bands' life Colin Dawson quit, so Alan Murphy took over, he later played in English pop bands Level 42 and coincidentally, Go West, who cropped up in the last volume via Hustler drummer Tony Beard. Although the band had a good live reputation, with fans frequently enjoying Jill Saward's titillating stage antics at the Marquee in London, they did not achieve commercial success on EMI and didn't get the green light for a second album. Jill had the most successful career afterwards, in the pop group Shakatak, and surprisingly none of the other players were in notable bands later. Colin Dawson started Fusion Orchestra 2 in 2008, in which he is the only original FO member.

The bulging pants of Silberbart
The bulging pants of Silberbart
I have often had Silberbart (trans. "Silver Beard") recommended to me for this blog, and here is a great opportunity to use one of their long free-form compositions. Little is known about this trio from Hamburg. Their 1971 album, Four Times Sound Razing, is regarded as a lost classic of Krautrock, It combines heavy metal and avant garde improvisation.

The band was formed in early 1971 by Hajo Teschner on guitars and vocals, Peter Behrens on drums and percussion, and Werner Klug on bass. Teschner had been in a Shadows-styled band Die Schocker in the mid-'60s before joining bubble gum pop band The Tonics. After that, Teschner, who had always been interested in free jazz, was ready for something more adventurous, and started the experimental power trio Silberbart. Given his Tonics connections with Philips, he was able to make an album on the label. Unfortunately the strange record did not attract much attention at the time, but by the end of the '70s they had appeared on the Nurse with Wound list of influences (link), and Julian Cope says the LP "....tears at the stitches as elements of Guru Guru’s first two albums and Alice Cooper’s first three are straddled simultaneously in a jarring, screaming and ultimately razing proto-metal masterpiece".

I would recommend Eiliff''s LPs to fans of all that's heavy who would like to explore the possibilities of jazz prog, and this style of prog is not what I usually go in for. They play hard and fast all the time though, so there's enough aggression in their long saxophone and hammond-infused tracks to pique the interest of open-minded hard rock fans. The musicianship is consistently brilliant and they remind me of Eindhoven's Mr. Albert Show a lot (see vol63). "faust3d" at RYM said: "Together with Gila and Eulenspygel, Eiliff was one of the best bands to come out of jazzy Stuttgart krautrock scene". Coincidentally, both those bands have appeared in TDATS before.

This comp ends with a suitably epic track that takes a departure from the previous prog/psych tracks here. It's from the guitarist of a Japanese band that has appeared in the blog before, Bow Wow (vols 18 & 36). He made a solo album in 1980 and it ends with "Horizon". I was blown away when I first heard it and it's a real blast, something you'd want to hear during the end credits of a particularly tough Japanese video game or in a movie scene with triumphant space ships returning from battle. On that point, I was pleased to see that he recorded some theme music for a TV sc-fi puppet show that I liked when I was a kid, X-Bomber (aka Starfleet). Goodbye and thanks for listening!

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Friday, August 28, 2015

TDATS 121: Dreams & Screams [NWOBHM-ish '70s hard rock]

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Volume 121 brings something for all heavy metal fans, with a fast, heavy set. Furthering an idea that first inspired volume 67, this latest comp is another selection of former-half ‘70s tracks (‘69-‘76) that remind me of the galloping, speedy, heavy metal sound that would be typified in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. In the UK, that was around the time of the much vaunted New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and famous bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Along with those two, groups such as Thin Lizzy made use of another band mechanic that exemplified the times, duel lead guitarists, often playing in harmony. You’ll find all these things and more in this selection.

Judas Priest pre-leather days
Judas Priest pre-leather days
I find it intriguing when I hear these types of sounds coming from bands in earlier times, perhaps the NWOBHM bands (and bands from other parts of the world – metal was getting militaristically heavy in the US at the same time) were partly inspired by some of the early ‘70s hard rock pioneers in this comp, and inspired to push the limits they set? Another important factor linking some of the bands here with the later metal bands are the producers/engineers, as we’ll see later. In the case of Tiger, there is a direct link via singer Nicky Moore, who replaced Bruce Dickinson in Samson.

There are tracks from new TDATS guests Agnes Strange, Tiger and Fuzzy Duck, along with new tracks from familiar names like Jerusalem, Tucky Buzzard and Gun. The Gun track here is from 1969 and along with Andromeda they were surely one of earliest bands to attempt this regimented stylistic attack. Although mostly English bands, we have some international wildcards in Désirée (Ger), Kleptomania (Bel), Taste (the Australian one), Left End (US) and Neon Rose (Swe). Speaking of Sweden, that country has consistently come up in TDATS comps with bands playing NWOBHM-ish sounds; Rhapsody, White, EF Band, Neon Rose, Plebb etc, and to this day lots of new Swedish bands are still doing it.


01. Tucky Buzzard - Bo-Bo's Hampton (1973)
       from album ‘Buzzard’
02. Jerusalem - Hooded Eagle (1972)
       from album ‘Jerusalem’
03. Désirée - Listen To The Radio (1976)
       from album ‘Make It With A Smile’
04. Agnes Strange - Granny Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll (1975)
       from album ‘Strange Flavour’
05. Gun - Dreams And Screams (1969)
       from album ‘Gunsight’
06. Wild Turkey - Butterfly (1971)
       from album ‘Battle Hymn’
07. Kleptomania - Cadens (1972)
       from album ‘Elephants Lost’
08. Tiger - I'm Not Crying (1976)
       from album ‘Tiger’
09. Taste - Lady of Love (1976)
       from album 'Tickle Your Fancy’
10. Left End - Spoiled Rotten (1974)
       from album ‘Spoiled Rotten’
11. Hustler - Piranahas (1974)
       from album ‘High Street’
12. Neon Rose - A Man's Not A Man (single edit) (1975)
       from album ‘Reload’
13. Geordie - Ten Feet Tall (1974)
       from album ‘Don't Be Fooled By The Name'
14. Fuzzy Duck - In Our Time (1971)
       from album ‘Fuzzy Duck’

The Bands

Tucky Buzzard was prolific for a short time, making five albums within five years. I have used a track from their fourth, the record called simply "Buzzard". Their albums were all produced by an unexpected name, Bill Wyman, Rolling Stones bassist 1962-92. Bill made musical contributions too, on piano, and brought in a number of backing musicians that had worked with the Stones. Tucky was started by three former members of The End; Dave Brown, Nick Graham and Paul Francis, however Paul Francis soon split to join Fuzzy Duck, who coincidentally also appears in this comp.

The End's sole album (1969) was also produced by Bill and is well-regarded. On the Sicilian Palermo Pop poster opposite, the band is actually described as "Bill Wyman's Tucky Buzzard". The song I used here, "Bo-Bo's Hampton", is a perfect opener with it's relentless gallop and harmonised guitar lines, a great track! Strangely, most of Tucky's albums didn't get a UK release initially, the debut s/t was US-only and "Coming On Again" was published in Spain. Maybe this lack of exposure in the UK was intentional but it might go some way to explain why they always remained under the radar, here in the UK at least. There's a detailed account for further reading here at

Jerusalem made one album that was produced by Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, who wrote these words for the s/t album's liner notes: "This is the first album by Jerusalem, a band which excites me very much; they are rough, raw and doomy with their own strong identity. As they are young and a bit green, they don't follow many rules, so their material is almost crude - but still immensely powerful in content. I believe that, whenever possible, the work of writers and players in their formative stages should be recorded; before inhibition and self-consciousness set in, before fire and aggression die down, and while they are still absorbing influences and doing things which others might consider 'uncool'. Most important though, before they might develop that self-imposed rigidity which afflicts so many. I hope none of these things happen to Jerusalem, we'll have to wait and see......I hope you like it as much as I do".

This album has since been remastered by Rockadrome. Jerusalem's debut was surely one of the most innovative heavy albums of it's time, it's approach was raw and had a youthful, timeless, almost punk-like attack that set it apart from the bluesy goings-on of the established heavy bands like Led Zep, or even Sabbath to a degree. Unfortunately Jerusalem didn't last, and the spin-off band Pussy went in for glam pop, which did result in a couple of rocking tracks but otherwise left the sphere of music that TDATS is interested in.

Désirée - Make It With A Smile back
Make It With A Smile back
Hanover's Désirée played a remarkably ahead of it's time chugging brand of early metal, much more in line with the UK's NWOBHM bands like Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy than much else I have heard from Germany at the time. The singing, although in English, is an unfortunate weak point as it's quite high pitched and indistinct, and this is not helped by the basic production. But persevere and you will find some truly excellent galloping metal and guitar interplay. "Listen To The Radio" demonstrates this perfectly, the more I listen, the more I can overcome any short-falls.

Désirée - Make It With A Smile front
Make It With A Smile front
They really remind me of an enigmatic Luxembourg band called Cold Feet that I have used a couple of times before, back on Vol22 and Vol67.  The similarity does not stop at the sound, but also reaches to the album art which also shows a scantily-clad 'lady of the night' type character in black and white. Not an unusual theme for a band in the seventies I know, but still eerily similar taking into account the year, country's proximity and sound. I have recently spoken to the drummer of Désirée, there isn't. Apparently most of the original Désirée lineup are back together now in a new band called 'New Fancy'.

Agnes Strange
Agnes Strange
Agnes Strange are a new name in this blog, and here are the liner notes from their UK edition LP: "Agnes Strange sprang into being in 1972 in the Southampton area where they still return when gigs on Christmas Island begin to become intolerable. The band set out to create a sound of their own fusing naturally with their own material today’s feeling for Rock and a touch of Chicago style blues.

In late 1974 the band moved its base to London in order to be managed by the Dick James Organisation. Since then the band has built up a large and loyal following and I hope that this album will enhance their stature in the world of Rock. Agnes Strange has, I feel, the rare ability to not only be aware but to stay aware.

Agnes Strange - Strange Flavour front
Agnes Strange
Strange Flavour front
John Westwood was recently quoted by a newspaper as saying that he came ‘from nowhere really’. Having known John for four dreadful years I cannot recall him ever having been fully aware of his surroundings. John is dedicated to the success of ‘Agnes’ and after years of frustration his patience is bearing fruit. John is an astonishingly talented guitarist and is completely natural in his stage presentation. Alan and Dave are very fortunate that he joined Agnes Strange as he had only just failed to secure the lead in a major feature film ‘I Was A Teenage Mistake’.

Dave Bodwell could be described as a charming young man. Could be. On stage he plays drums with an eerie, almost evil absorption. Dave works hard towards a tight sound and drives a hard, regular rhythm pattern.

Alan Green off stage is an easy going cabinet maker and smiles gently most of the time. On stage he shows himself as a dedicated bass player who believes a straight solid bass line is essential to the Agnes Strange sound. The band has to be seen to be believed."

This was written by Agnes Strange's producer Dave Travis (link). As well as being a performer, Dave was a producer and mastering engineer and worked on records from the likes of Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and Robin Trower.

Gun debut LP 1968
Gun debut s/t LP 1968
Gun were an important and influential English hard rock band, and one of the very first. Everyone knows about their classic 1968 top ten single, "Race with the Devil" (youtube), it has been covered ever since by famous and underground acts, right up to modern bands like Church Of Misery. The Gun was a development of guitarist Paul Gurvitz's The Knack (prev. The Londoners, formed 1963). Paul's father was road manager for The Shadows so he had a good introduction to rock and The Londoners had already played in France and Hamburg by the time they settled in London, becoming The Knack, then in 1966, "The Gun". Soon after they were playing at the UFO Club, supporting names such as Pink Floyd, Arthur Brown and Tomorrow.

Gun - Gunsight 1969
Gun - Gunsight 1969
By 1968 Paul's brother Adrian had joined on guitar, himself having already cut his teeth with Rupert's People (see Vol70) and pre-T2 bands Please/Bulldog Breed (see vols 27 & 74). Gun recorded two albums and they honed their hard rock elements further on the second LP, Gun Sight, which "Dreams and Screams" is taken from. After Gun the Guvitz brothers were in more bands together, including the excellent Three Man Army (see Vol46) and Baker Gurvitz Army with Ginger Baker, as well as separate projects. Both are still working in the music business. Paul started The New Army band in recent years, where he now lives in Arizona. He did an interview with PsychedelicBaby in 2011, and his website is (link).

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey was formed by bassist Glen Cornick after his dismissal from Jethro Tull. The first of their two albums, 'Battle Hymns' (1971), is of main interest to TDATS, as it has a few great heavy prog cuts like "Butterfly". During its life the band toured the UK and US with Black Sabbath, and included members past and present of Babe Ruth, Eyes of Blue, Man, Ancient Grease, Gentle Giant and Cozy Powell's Hammer, among many others. The second album was far less exciting, and I see them as something of a wasted opportunity as LP # 1 had some great proto-metallic prog which was very ahead of it's time, they could have been at the forefront of metal with Sabbath, Judas Priest et al with a bit more development, had they so desired... Glenn Cornick interview about Jethro Tull, Wild Turkey

Tiger debut LP 1976, back
Tiger debut LP 1976, back
The Tiger album is a fun listen with some elements of the forthcoming heavy metal sounds, but it also harks back to the past with some old hands at the helm like famous session guitarist "Big" Jim Sullivan. Jim's friend and Tiger producer Derek Lawrence had previously worked on records from names like Hackensack, The Green Bullfrog Session, UFO, Wishbone Ash, Angel and NWOBHM originators Quartz to name just a few. Tiger released two albums, a third LP was recorded in 1977, but Jim says "I felt only the last one was where I wanted the band to be. We used Simon Phillips Drums, Percy Jones Bass, Dave Lawson keyboards and Maurice Pert on percussion. Yours truly on guitar of course. E.M.I. shelved the album and our manager of that time John bought the tapes and released the album on his label. [Which became Big Jim Sullivan Band's 'Test of Time', 1983]".

Jim died in 2012 but by all accounts he leaves a respected legacy. He had been recording since 1957 and played on over 800 singles and LPs, including 54 UK Number Ones. You could write an entire book on his career, here's a printed interview (link).

Nicky Moore in Samson (left)
Nicky Moore (left)
in Samson
Tiger's singer Nicky Moore had previously been in Hackensack (see Vol66) who's best, most metallic tracks in my opinion only appeared on later archival releases, alas with terrible sound quality, and he links this comp to some more modern metal sounds. Wikipedia :- "Nicky Moore (born 1952, England) is best known as a former member of the British band Samson (link). He replaced Bruce Dickinson who left the band to join Iron Maiden in 1982. Moore left Samson in the late 1980s and rejoined in the late 1990s. After his initial departure from Samson, Moore sang in the band Mammoth, which also featured former Gillan bassist John McCoy. After two albums they split in 1989. In 2006 Moore teamed up with Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton and three musicians from the Swedish band Locomotive Breath, to record an album under the band name "From Behind". The band performed at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2006. Since 1994, Moore has helmed "Nicky Moore and the Blues Corporation", who were voted 'Top Live Blues Band' by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 2000."

Kleptomania (meaning: "an irresistible urge to steal items of trivial value") were an example of very early Belgian hard rock, Dany Lademacher's guitar skills being especially prominent in their sound, but alas they softened their sound on later singles and their only album release was a posthumous bootleg in 1979, three years after breaking up. I will quote a very interesting review by purpleoverdose over at RYM: "One of the better albums from Belgium in the 70's. Herman Brood became very popular in Holland at the end of the '70s, one part was pumped up media hysteria and one part were his ''live'' shows. He played in every shithole in Holland and as a result of the extensive touring he gained chart-success.

Danny Lademacher [Kleptomania guitarist] was part of his band. As a result of the attention in the Dutch media, a 1972 Kleptomania demo-tape once sent to FLAME Records was given to a record shop owner who in the past had released a 45 under the name of ''Bag'' (see Vol35), on FLAME Records. He was impressed by the demo and decided to press a bootleg LP. It went for sale under the counter in his record shop. He hoped to sell them quickly but it took more than 10 years to sell them.

I frequently visited his shop in those years because critics who wrote for music magazines dumped their promo albums there and he sold them for bargain prices. Just as he got rid of the boots in the early '90s, the internet & Ebay started. He saw the demand for the album rising but he had none left!". There's some more details here at

Taste - Knights of Love
Taste are up next, a Melbourne band, with Joel Witenberg (drums, vocals), Ken Murdock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Joey Amenta (guitar, vocals), Michael Tortoni (bass, vocals) and Virgil Donati (drums). They had a histrionic approach, and at times a metallic sound. Though they are clearly indebted to Queen's melodrama, they were a much younger band, so perhaps they were also taking notice of the beginning of the NWOBHM at the time. It's said that Queen liked them and used to play Taste's 'Boys Will Be Boys' on tour before they went on stage.

Taste’s lead singer and songwriter Ken Murdoch said in a recent interview: "I started singing in shitholes when I was 15, By the time I was 17, I was a veteran of pub rock alongside Joey and Michael. We had been booed, spat upon, and ignored until we got it right and that’s something bands don’t have anymore. But once you get it right and that crowd love you something magical happens between the two of you. I don’t see that happen much anymore".

Amenta left to join Redhouse in 1977, according to Rock on Vinyl's article Taste achieved quite a lot of success with two top-twenty albums, playing to audiences as large as 13,000, so it seems a shame they called it quits early on and I have been unable to find out why as-yet, but they have reformed and gigged quite recently and even made a new ten track album.

Neon Rose
Stockholm's Neon Rose were a band clearly showing the mid-seventies development of hard rock into speedy heavy metal, as the blistering 'A Man's Not A Man' demonstrates. They were lucky enough to get signed to Vertigo almost immediately on formation. After listening through all their recorded output, it's clear they had the musical chops to make it. The problem seems to me that none of their 3 albums were quite consistent enough to adequately maintain the Motörhead-like intensity which they hinted at. A good example of where a little more quality control could have made all the difference.

Left End - Spoiled Rotten 1974
Left End
Spoiled Rotten 1974
For another curve ball entry in this volume, we go to Youngstown, Ohio to find the Left End. An excellent band that only made one LP and were a local name in the US, but could have been more widely renowned I think. They had a mix of hard rock and metal, with glam and Queen-like pomp which all made for a heady brew that sounds substantially ahead of it's time. Among the tracks on the 1974 album "Spoiled Rotten", there are some seriously heavy moves and it's a shame the band didn't produce more albums, although they did make singles sporadically until the early '80s. Front man Dennis T. Menass (real name Dennis Sesonsky) was a unique performer that you'll just have to hear, sadly he passed away a year ago.

"He turned heads with his exorbitant costumes, his makeup, his whole persona just commanded attention. He could control an audience anywhere in the country” :- Left End drummer Pat Palombo. A short local news item can be seen here (link) and there is a Left End website here (link).

High Street LP 1974
Nearing the end we have another UK act, Hustler. Their first album, "High Street" (1974) is a worthwhile hard rock set and the track Piranahas has a hammond organ-assisted urgency and relentless speed that makes it perfect for this comp. The second Hustler LP is a disappointment in regards to where the first one was going, it plumps for a staid, boring boogie rock sound which was an unfortunate decision, for us at least. One funny fact-ette is that Hustler drummer Tony Beard, being one of the more prolific members post-Hustler, surfaced briefly in Go West, a UK pop duo who had chart success in the mid-eighties.

Geordie were a Newcastle-upon-Tyne band that started in 1971 and are chiefly remembered as singer Brian Johnson's launchpad, who would later replace Bonn Scott in AC/DC. They were a band aiming for commercial success in the same area as Slade and Sweet, thus their catalogue is a varied bunch of styles with glam and boogie which we'd not be so interested in here, but they did rock out now and again as on tracks "So What" (see Vol7) and the track here; "Ten Feet Tall", which is brilliant.

Brian's trademark AC/DC scream was not fully developed at this point but you can hear it just about coming through in this long and tumultuous song, it has peaks and troughs and is a great ride, too bad the band didn't match these heights very often. The band didn't last long after Johnson left in the late '70s, initially to pursue a solo career, although sometimes he performed with his own band using the name Geordie II. The original group attempted a comeback in 1983, and again as "Powerhouse" (link) in 1986, with little success.

Fuzzy Duck s/t 1971
Fuzzy Duck s/t 1971
We reach the end of this set with a belated appearance from a record that that I surely should have used by now, as it's really good. This is the eponymous Fuzzy Duck LP, one of the older entries her, recorded in 1971. They play jazzy prog rock, with excellent musicianship, driving hammond organ and plenty of rocking riffs. Bassist Mick Hawksworth had previously been in Andromeda (Vol51) with John Du Cann, another similarly cool band. He was also in other TDATS bands, Killing Floor (see Vol7) and Toe Fat (Vol2). Drummer Paul Francis had been in The End, and briefly in this volume's opening band, Tucky Buzzard. The Duck enjoyed some radio play, including "A Big Word From D" and "Double Fine Woman", which were both favoured by BBC stations.

Fuzzy Duck in the studio
Fuzzy Duck in the studio
In the Esoteric Recordings CD re-issue Paul Francis stated that one of the major things that broke the band up was internal friction with guitarist and founder Graham White, which he regrets in retrospect. They managed to turf him out and replace him with Garth Watt-Roy (Steamhammer, The Greatest Show On Earth) who was a great guitarist, but it didn't go down well with the record company. After the Duck had quacked it, Graham White joined Capability Brown (Vol54), Paul teamed up with Chris Speading and Steve Harley, playing on a couple of Cockney Rebel LPs and Mick Hawksworth worked with Alvin Lee among others.


Thanks to all these hard rock and prog pioneers, the brilliant beast that is heavy metal was born, and it looks like it's here to stay! Keep your head down, and keep it banging!
Cheers, Rich.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 120: Wolf of Iron Jaw [Serbia 1]

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Since volumes 41 (general) and 101 (Poland) it's high time TDATS returned to eastern europe, so here we concentrate on heavy stuff that originated in the Serbian part of the former Yougoslavia. Unlike some might suspect, the Tito dictatorship did not interfere with the influence of incoming western pop music, or people's general enjoyment of popular music. Rock music flourished in Yugoslavia from the '50s onward and as you will hear in this comp, a lot of great talent emerged. The first Serbian '60s bands during the age of beat and rhythm & blues included Siluete, Elipse and Džentlmeni, all mentioned here as certain members were in some of the heavier bands coming up.

I must thank tdats fan Adam Burke, front man of Pushy and Fellwoods, and brilliant artist, for drawing a cover especially for this volume. It is inspired by the Psoglav, a werewolf-like demonic creature in Serbian mythology which bares iron teeth. Another thanks goes to the blog Jugo Rock Forever, one of the best sources of Yugoslavian rock.

01. S Vremena Na Vreme - Tema Za Šargiju [edit] (1975)
       from album 'S Vremena Na Vreme'
02. YU Grupa - Drveni Most (1974)
03. Grupa CD - Vjeruj U Ljubav (1973)
04. Džentlmeni - Veseli Svet (1968)
       from compilation 'Retrologija'
05. Zlatko Manojlović - Ko Te Sada Ljubi (1975)
06. Smak - Biska 16 (1974)
       single B side
07. Tako - Druga Strana Mene [edit] (1978)
       from album 'Tako'
08. Grupa SOS - Tražim (1974)
09. Korni Grupa - Neko Spava Pored Mene (1970)
10. Miodrag Bata Kostić - Tvoj Put (1975)
       from album 'Kongres Rock Majstora'
11. Pop Show Grupa - Okrutna Žena (1974)
12. Pop Mašina - Vreme Za Nas (1975)
       from album 'Na Izvoru Svetlosti'
13. Igra Staklenih Perli - Majestetski Kraj (1979)
       from album 'Igra Staklenih Perli'
14. Riblja Čorba - Hej, Ćale (1979)
       from album 'Kost U Grlu'
15. Dah - Majka Jugovića (1974)
       from album 'Veliki Cirkus'
16. Opus - Sam (1974)
17. S Vremena Na Vreme - Tema Za Šargiju [reprise] (1975)
       from album 'S Vremena Na Vreme'

Up until the early '70s, Serbia's only rock releases were on 7 inch singles and EPs. The first full-length rock album was Korni Grupa's debut LP in the comparatively late year of 1972, they were also the first Serbian band to play hard, progressive rock, which is shown in this comp with one of the oldest tracks here, a 1970 single of theirs.

The three other bands that heralded the beginning of Serbian hard rock were Yu Grupa, Pop Mašina (Pop Machine) and Smak (Endtime). From 1973 onward they started releasing excellent albums, displaying impressive technical skill, but also plenty of soul and passion. Smak stood slightly apart in their inclusion of jazz-influenced prog sounds, but they were also satisfyingly heavy. All three took clear influence from the pioneers like Cream, Led Zep and Black Sabbath, but also had their own Balkan flavour, giving them a refreshing slant that holds them up on their own merits. Indeed, of all the smaller regions I have studied so far for TDATS, with a consequently small number of bands, I can safely say that Serbia is right up there at the top regarding the consistent quality of what music there was. Discovering these bands has been an especially enjoyable experience which, by all accounts, will be repeated when I turn to neighbouring countries like Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia for later episodes. I can't wait!

Boom festival 1972
The main music festival of Yugoslavia in the '70s was Boom Pop, which ran from 1972 to 1978. It was initially held in Tivoli Hall, Ljubljana, Slovenia. During it's seven years it moved to Croatia and ended at Novi Sad in Serbia. Of the bands included in this volume, those that appeared at Boom were; Pop Mašina (in 1973), Dah (1973), YU Grupa (1973,74 & 76), S Vremena Na Vreme (1974), Smak (1975 & 77), Tako (1977 & 78) and Riblja Čorba (1978). For almost every year, a live double-LP was released featuring performances from the fest. The 1974 edition included three songs by "Pop Selekcija Boom '74", a super group that got on stage just for that year's fest. This group included Dado Topić on vocals/bass, of Korni Grupa. The final year of Boom festival was just when punk was breaking, and so had a decidedly different flavour to those before. As you can see in this magazine article (link) the long hair and bell bottoms was giving way to the safety pins and short hair of young bands like Prljavo kazalište and Paraf.

RTB logo
There were only four record labels responsible for putting out the sixteen records appearing in this comp. The winner, with seven of them, is "Produkcija Gramofonskih Ploča Radio Televizije Beograd", or RTB for short. RTB's beginnings occurred when the state-owned Radio Belgrade bought two record presses in 1951, with the original intention of archiving pre-existing recordings. In 1952 it pressed fifteen 78rpm singles of new music under the label "Jugodisk". It became Radio-Television Belgrade in 1959 with the advent of television, and went on to become the second-largest record label in Yugoslavia. After the Yugoslavian breakup in 1993 it became Radio Television of Serbia (RTS). RTB was responsible for the first hard progressive rock records from Serbia, with Korni Grupa's early singles and debut album.

Jogoton logo c.1974
The Croatian Jugoton label is the runner up here with five of our records. This was Yugoslavia's largest label. It came into existence when the Ljubljana-based Elektroton label moved to Zagreb and became "Jugoton" in 1947, after nationalisation. By the mid-'60s it was producing 30.000 records a day. Bosnia's Indexi were one of Yugoslavia's first bands to start getting fuzzy on their Jugoton singles like Šabn-Dabn-Šabn-Du-Bajo in 1969 (youtube). The first Yugoslavian heavy progressive LP on Jugtron was the debut of the Croatian band Time in 1972 (youtube). The other two labels were RTV Slovenija, the national label of Slovenia, and Diskos, an independent Serbian label started in 1962, on Which Croatia's Had was one of the earliest progressive bands (youtube).

With the exception of Smak, every one of the bands in this volume originated in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade (natively called Beograd), although many individual members were from other countries situated in the former Yugoslavia.

The Bands

S Vremena Na Vreme opens this set with an instrumental blending folk and fuzz. I took it from their 1975 debut LP and you'll notice I also reprised it for the outro track. They were one of the pioneers of the Serbian acoustic rock scene, and one of the pioneers in incorporating folk music elements into rock music of Yugoslavia, along with Suncokret, also from Serbia. They were good friends of another band appearing here, Pop Mašina, and they would organise free shows together and play on each other's albums. S Vremena Na Vreme had two albums and many singles in the '70s.

The fuzz gives way to YU Grupa's solid riffing, and this band had a lot of great riffs over five '70s LPs and many singles, being one of the most important, long-lasting and rewarding Serb bands to dig into. They were formed in 1970 by brothers Dragi (vocals, guitar) and Žika Jelić (bass guitar), both former members of beat band Džentlmeni. They have continued to make albums and play live into the 2010s, the last live show having been in 2012 which was unfortunately cut short when Žika Jelić had an electric shock, but he's fine and the band have announced a new album this year.

Coming up next is a very obscure act called Grupa CD, so far I have only been able to listen to a couple of sides from the eight or so singles they made between 72 and 74, one of which is a light pop affair. But all is not lost, the other one is a hammond organ-powered monster as you can hear. They appear to have had an experienced lineup, with Aleksandar Cvetković and Jovan Miščević of '60s beat band Siluete, and Slobodan Todorović of Siluete and Džentlmeni. I'd love to hear some more of the singles if anyone out there can point me in the right direction!

Džentlmeni (The Gentleman) is a name that crops up in relation to members of no less than eight of the acts on this comp so I figured they deserve a spot too, even though they are from a different age in musical terms. They were a Belgrade beat band that started in 1966. I am using the first song of theirs that was ever released, "Veseli Svet", recorded at Subotica Youth Festival in 1968 and released on a 7" together with other bands from that festival. To give you some idea how important they were, there were at least nine players that passed through Džentlmeni that played in other bands mentioned in this volume, and other great bands that I plan to use later! They include Slobodan Todorović (Grupa CD), Velibor Bogdanović (Dah, Land, YU Grupa), Zlatko Manojlović (Dah, Fleš, Gordi, Land, Zlatko & His Band), Zoran Božinović (Pop Mašina, Rok Mašina), Žika Jelić (YU Grupa), Dragan Jelić (YU Grupa), Dušan Petrović (Pop Mašina), Robert Nemeček (Pop Mašina, Rok Mašina) and Branko Marušić (Dah). Phew! And there's probably some that I missed...

For the fifth track we have another alumni of Džentlmeni, guitarist Zlatko Manojlović. He was involved in other bands including VIS Fles, and Dah, which appears on here later. The track I have used is from the first of his two '70s solo singles, and in the '80s he started making solo albums. In 1975 he guested on Opus's album, who also appear here, and in 1977 he started a prog band called Gordi. I have checked them out and found the two LPs they made in the '70s to be not so great, but by all accounts Gordi is better remembered for being one of the first Serbian heavy metal bands, which they stylistically morphed into for their final albums in 81 and 82.

Smak in front of the Ružica Church in Belgrade.
 l-r Laza Ristovski, Slobodan Stojanović "Kepa", Radomir
Mihajlović, Zoran Milanović, and Boris Aranđelović.
A third of the way through now and we come to another of the most renowned Serbian bands, Smak. They originated in the fourth largest city of Serbia, Kragujevac, so are the only band on this comp not from Belgrade. What immediately hit me about their first single, 1974's "Živim ... Biska 13", is the heaviness and progressive metal-like technicality, which is largely a product of their fantastic guitarist Radomir Mihajlović Točak. Included here is the B side, entitled Biska 16. He is one of the former Yugoslavia's most celebrated rock musicians and his varied skills have lead to Smak being described as everything from blues to jazz rock to hard rock and symphonic rock.

We move on to a purely symphonic prog band called Tako, a rarity for the Serbian region at the time. Again they were very accomplished technically, and turned up the riffs a few times, like in the first part of the epic 16 minute "Druga Strana Men" on their self-titled first album. They appeared once before in TDATS on the flute volume 78. Founding member Sava Bojić (guitar, vocals) had been in an early lineup of Pop Mašina. Bassist Dušan Ćućuz was a member of the omni-present Džentlmeni, and he was part of the original Opus.

When I first encountered Grupa SOS I was knocked out by the riffs and tone that are very reminiscent of Black Sabbath. Unfortunately they only made a few singles in their six year life-span, and acted as Srđan Marjanović's backing band. Their legacy continued when in 1978 they evolved into one of Serbia's best-loved hard rock bands, Riblja Čorba, coming up soon. They were founded in '72 by Miroslav Aleksić (bass, vocals), Dragan Štulović (guitar - later in Tunel) and Stevan Stevanović (drums). By '78 only Miroslav remained, with newer members Rajko Kojić (guitar) and drummer Vicko Milatović, all of whom then became Riblja Čorba with the inclusion of former Suncokret & Rani Mraz member Bora Đorđević (vocals, acoustic guitar and songwriter).

Korni Grupa 1972 LP,
Kornelije Kovač standing furthest-back
At the half way mark now and an important band called Korni Grupa. I have taken a track from a 1970 single, which surely must be one of the heaviest things from Serbia at that early stage. As said before, Korni Groupa very obviously progressed from their original sound and made Serbia's first ever full length progressive rock album in 1972, mixing too many styles to conveniently categorise the band. There are elements of jazz, traditional folk, psych, blues, funk, hard rock and symphonic rock on there, with top notch performances all-round. The band is named after it's founder, Serbian-born Kornelije Kovač, who got his first rock exposure in Bosnia's biggest pop group, Indexi.

Korni Groupa at Eurovision
Before that point, he had already become an accomplished composer, pianist, keyboard player, producer and arranger at a startlingly young age. In 1974 Korni Grupa entered the Eurovision Song Contest which was held in Brighton, UK. They came seventh, and I think I can safely assume I won't be saying anything like that about any other bands on TDATS for a while... Kornelije moved to England in 1979 and continued with varied work in music. Whitesnake's Bernie Marsden played on his K2 LP project called "Why?" in 1980 (link).

Kongres Rock Majstora concert poster
Next up is a track from a one-off collaborative album called Kongres Rock Majstora (Congress of Rock Masters). The idea of this seems to have been to take four well-known Yugoslavian guitarists and give them one side each of a double LP. Supporting them was a host of players from their bands and many others. The four main guys were: Miodrag Bata Kostić - Serbian guitarist of Yu Grupa and Opus, Josip Boček - Croatian guitarist of Korni Grupa, Vedran Božić - Croatian guitarist of Time, and Goran Bregović. Goran was the Bosnian guitarist of Bijelo Dugme, he is now internationally famous as a composer / score writer. He entered the world of film music in 1989, and became known for his scores for Emir Kusturica's films; Time of the Gypsies, Arizona Dream and Underground. Yu Grupa's drummer Ratislav-Raša Đelmaš, and bassist Žika Jelić (also of Džentlmeni) were in the the support bands. Also bassist Bojan Hreljac and drummer Vladimir Furduj of Korni Grupa. I have used a track from Miodrag Bata Kostić's set, his four songs on side D were all top quality rockers as you can hear!

Goran Bregović - Josip Boček
With the kind help of TDATS fb group member Чика Киде, who has made some translations for us, I have found out some more facts about the record. This is what he was able to translate from some press regarding the 2009 Croatia Records reissue of Kongres Rock Majstora: "Kongres Rock Majstora” had the goal to promote the guitar masters of the era. The promotion itself included concerts and media coverage, in which the music magazine “JukeBox” was the main outlet. The reason for the appearance of those particular four players, and not other guitar masters like Radomir Mihailović-Točak from Smak, is probably because they played in bands connected to the Jugoton label. Jugoton was the largest Yugoslavian record label and owner of a widespread network of record shops, succeeded by Croatia Records in 1990.

Vedran Božić - Miodrag Bata Kostić
Goran Bregović, as the leader of Bijelo Dugme, let Željko Bebek to do the vocals, and for the song “Ima neka tajna veza” he had the support of Zagreb’s String Quartet. The album featured the instrumental song “Minijatura za moju majku”, as well as two older Bijelo Dugme songs - “I kad prodje sve pjevat ću i tad”, and “Znam za jedno tiho mjesto”. When the double LP was released, critics were not very complementary. There wasn't any significant commercial success or media coverage of the release, and shortly after the entire venture was side-lined. Vinyl collectors across the world have shown a strong interest for this album which commands 100-200 Euros today."

On to track eleven and a band that didn't record much but seem to have been around for about five years, Pop Show Grupa. The track here is a heavy, punky fuzz monster! They made two singles like this, plus the mystery single "Malaika / Sisi Tunakupenda" which appeared five years later in 1979, and seems to have a collaboration with a Belgrade-based Kenyan musician called Steven Hannington. I have not heard this third one so can only guess what it sounds like, though Discogs categorises it under "Folk, World, & Country, Funk / Soul, Pop".

The band was Miodrag Dobrić (bass), Dragan Milić (guitar) and Vladan Dokić (drums). Vladan was in Opus and later-on Rok Mašina, which was an '80s development of Pop Mašina. Both bands coming up here soon...

I consider there to be a 'big three' of heavy Serbain bands from the former half of the '70s, YU Grupa and Smak have already appeared so now it's time for the last of that trio, Pop Mašina (Pop Machine). They were formed in Belgrade in 1972 by Robert Nemeček (bass, vocals - formerly of Dogovor Iz 1804 and Džentlmeni. The other formative members on their two studio albums were Mihajlo Popović (drums) and Zoran Božinović (guitar - formerly in Džentlmeni).

Na Izvoru Svetlosti LP 1975
Their 1973 debut LP "Kiselina" (Acid), had contributions from members of S Vremena Na Vreme, Grupa SOS and acoustic band Dag. Although excelling in their heavy rock tracks like "Svemirska Prièa," the band played an equal amount of acoustic pop and folk-infused songs in a similar approach to Led Zep's album 'III'. The second and final studio album "Na Izvoru Svetlosti" (At the Spring of Light) followed suit, having a little more emphasis on the hard rock, with a great opener which is the track I have used in this comp, "Vreme za Nas". Track 2 gives you a good idea of their stage show with a live-recorded blues workout. Over-all this album is more consistent and you can hear the improved arrangements and more confident playing.

Rok Mašina, 1981
In 1976 Robert Nemeček left the band due to army obligations; up until 2011 Serbia demanded mandatory military service of 6 months for men. Other personnel changes happened and the last recording from the band was a great single in 1977. By this time they had expanded to a four-piece with two guitarists and it's a shame they did not go through with a proposed third album as the progression is evident in "Moja Pesma" (youtube). New additions were Dušan Petrović (bass - Džentlmeni), Dušan Đukić (drums - also in Dah) and Vidoje Božinović (guitar - Dah, Opus, Riblja Čorba), with Zoran Božinović remaining from before on guitar & vocals. In 1981 Robert Nemeček returned on bass and the band was reborn with a harder sound as Rok Mašina. Vladan Dokić of Pop Show Grupa entered on drums. Zoran Božinović and Vidoja Božinović remained on guitars from the previous Pop Mašina lineup.

Igra Staklenih Perli
Coming up now is a bit of a diversion, with one of the latest-recorded tracks in the comp we encounter some space rock. In searches through the Serbian '70s this is the only example of such I have come across, but as I am coming to expect from this country it is brilliant. Igra Staklenih Perli ("The Glass Bead Game" - a futuristic existential book by Herman Hesse) made a debut album in 1979 and a second, final one in 1980. This track is taken from the first, and it's an ethereal, immersive experience you can get lost in, brilliantly layering electronics and repetitive riffs in the best traditions of Hawkwind and the krautrock masters. Over that is some beautiful guitar work with a hint of Balkan folk. Bassist Draško Nikodijević and guitarist Vojkan Rakić later formed the post-punk/neo-psych White Rabbit Band and in the late 1980s moved to the USA where they continued under the name White Rabbit Cult.

Riblja Čorba 1978
On the home straight now we come to the beginnings of Serbian heavy metal and Riblja Čorba. As mentioned before, by 1978 the members of Grupa SOS; bass player Miroslav Aleksić, Rajko Kojić (guitar), drummer Vicko Milatović and Bora Đorđević (ex-Suncokret & Rani Mraz, vocals, acoustic guitar and songwriter) became Riblja Čorba (Fish Stew). I have used a track from their 1979 debut album "Kost u Grlu", which is equal parts punk and heavy metal. The band went on to acclaim and is one of Yugoslavia!s most successful bands. They have released albums as recently as 2012's "Uzbuna".

Dah 1974, Zlatko Manojlović on right
Guitarist Zlatko Manojlović returns with a band called Dah (breath) that he co-founded in 1972. By the time of their first album in 1974, Branko Gluščević was on bass, Velibor Boka Bogdanović was on drums and Zlatko was leading on guitar. Veliki Cirkus (The Big Circus) was an ambitious excursion and another of Serbia's earliest progressive rock LPs.

Dah - Veliki Cirkus LP 1974
It incorporates '60s style psych with blues, country and hard rock in a quirky and original brew, supported by Zlatko's always-brilliant guitar work. In 1975 the band moved to Belgium, where they performed under the name Land, reportedly going in a more symph/jazz direction and making an album under that name called "Cool Breeze", although I have found very little info on that record and not heard it yet. During this time they had radio success with a single called "Šošana" and played on stage with Focus. After returning to Serbia they made one more album, called "Povratak" before Zlatko had to take a break to perform military service. The band did not last much longer and after completing his service Zlatko started a new band called Gordi which switched to heavy metal in the '80s.

Opus "Veče / Sam" single 1974
We reach the end of another TDATS with a band called Opus, that have been mentioned a couple of times already. This is a great song to end on, a single that is more punchy than their LP which came out a year later. Opus started in 1973 and the original line-up included the founder and organist Miodrag Okrugić, guitar player Miodrag Kostić and bassist Dušan Ćućuz (ex-Džentlmeni), but soon they split. They were named after Okrugić's composition "Opus No. 1" which he scored during his tenure with the band Yu Grupa.

"Opus 1" LP 1975
Okrugić re-formed Opus in 1975 with bassist Slobodan Orlić, drummer Ljubomir Jerković and singer Dušan Prelević (ex Korni grupa) and soon they recorded their debut "Opus 1", done in the symphonic rock style, with a few heavy moments like track "Dolina Bisera" (youtube). It failed to draw attention of the public and the band split again. In various incarnations guitar players in this period were Ljubo Sedlar, Zoran Dasić and Vidoja Bozinović. The final line-up from the 1977 re-formation included Okrugić, Orlić, drummer Zelimir Vasić and guitar player Milan Matić, but after fruitless attempts they finally disbanded for good. In addition to their only LP album, they recorded three singles from 1974-77.


If you have listened all the way to the end of these songs I think you'll agree that the former Yugoslavia has a natural aptitude for rock music and an amazing number of consistently good musicians and singers. The mind boggles at what more is out there to discover from other parts of the Balkans, but I'll most certainly be doing my best to find out!
Thanks for reading, Rich

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