Monday, December 5, 2016

The Day After The Sabbath 134: Mischief Magic and Musicians [Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia]

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Time for some more from Eastern Europe [see also: 41: Eastern Roc | 101: Poland | 120: Serbia]. With a population of around two million this is one of the smallest countries I have investigated so far. As with the other small countries appearing in this blog, they produced their fair share of musical talent but that talent tended to move around so players from what is now the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) cropped up all over the former Yugoslavia and beyond, with few harder-rocking acts being based in the FYROM itself and even less of them actually releasing official albums. Also, the distinctions between band's counties of origin is not always easy to make in areas of many close borders like eastern Europe, sometimes near impossible when a band moves around and has lineup changes, but I've tried hard to make a representative set for the FYROM, and the resulting music is great! If anyone out there can offer corrections or additional information please feel free to get in touch.

The cover image is an interpretation of the Slavic god Veles, who is associated with mischief, magic and music among other things, and has a FYROM city named after him. As with the previous Yugoslavian comp, Serbia's Vol120, a big thanks goes to Lajso of Jugo Rock Forever (link) who specialises in posting vintage Slavic records of all kinds.

TRACKS

01. Leb I Sol - Dikijeva Igra (1978)
       from album 'Leb I Sol 2'
02. Madrigali - Imeto naše e Madrigali (1977)
       Live in Skopje
03. Bis-Bez - Dal' da Plačam il' da Peam (1973)
       from 'Što e Vreva (1966-73)'
04. BT Top - BT Top (1979)
       single
05. Triangl - Jana (1976)
       from 'Triangl (1976-82)'
06. Bis-Bez - Bilo I Pominalo (1973)
       from 'Što e vreva (1966-73)'
07. Trn vo Oko - Makedonski Rok (1979)
       from 'Trn vo Oko (1979-80)'
08. Torr - Žolta Mašina (1976)
       from album 'Boom '76'
09. BT Top - Umot mi go Zede (1979)
       single
10. Republika 903 - So Maki Sum Se Rodil (1971)
       from 'Dve Pesni (1970-1975)'
11. Tihomir Pop Asanović - Majko Zemljo (1974)
       from album 'Majko Zemljo'


Leb I Sol
Leb I Sol, from the FYROM's capital Skopje, is the premiere prog rock band. The name literally translates to "bread and salt" which is a traditional hospitality in Macedonia. The music tends towards jazz fusion prog with hints of folk so isn't strictly TDATS territory but they were great musicians with a lot of variety, and the track I have chosen from the second LP is suitably jarring.

They have made over ten albums now, the last was in 2008 and most of the members have had successful solo careers.

Madrigali is one of the bands here that is well-regarded in the FYROM but don't appear to have released an official album of their own. They specialise in great guitar harmonies and the track I included, 'Imeto naše e Madrigali', exemplifies that with cool galloping rhythms. It would seem they are still around as in 2013 they collaborated in live shows with Croatian singer Dado Topić, who's career has included bands like Time & Korni Grupa from different regions of the former Yugoslavia.

The best vintage Madrigali recordings I have heard were made during a 1977 TV performance with singer/flute player Cane Nikolovski, that you can watch here:




Bis-Bez
Bis-Bez
(image @ yugopapir.com)
Bis-Bez was another Skopje band. They straddled the times of beat music and prog rock. Again, it doesn't appear they made any official releases but they appear in a few regional comps, and there's an unofficial collection of their own tracks that someone has put out on the net called 'Što e Vreva (1966-73)'. I have used two great songs from that, one of which is a 10 minute epic which lets it all hang out and explores a lot of moods, mixing Doors-like psych grooves with regional vocal melodies and hard rock/prog in an enthralling way.

It rocks and grooves, ebbs and flows. They never even made an album, but this is one of those tracks that feels like a whole album in one song anyway. I can't find solid confirmation of what year it was, it could well be late-sixties, the sound is dead in between the progressive psych of the late sixties and prog of the early seventies.

Triangl
Triangl
I have no information about BT Top, other than Jugo Rock Forever says they were from Bitola and two tracks going around are from 1979. They are both pretty good, being a novel mix of hard rock and fusion. I used both on here!

Triangl is up next. They were from Skopje and existed in the 1970s, making a single in 1982. I believe the track I have used was recorded in 1976 but haven't found confirmation....if anyone knows more about these guys drop me a line! It's a shame many of these FYROM hard rock bands didn't record much.

Trn Vo Oko is another band that Cane Nikolovski sang with, in this case a couple of years after Madrigali. Again from Bitola, Trn Vo Oko's recorded music was done for Radio Skopje and mixes rock n roll with hard rock.

Boom '76 festival LP
The next track is from a live performance at Yugoslavia's famous Rock festival, Boom, which I wrote more about on Vol120. The band is 'Torr' and it sounds like they were very heavy! Unfortunately there is only the one track left of them on record, from 1976's Boom festival compilation LP. I have attempted to improve the sound quality of it but currently this is the best I can find.

Somebody left a comment on youtube (link) regarding the Torr track I have used:
"Awesome song accompanied by great performance! Proper song title should be “Žolta Mašina” (Yellow Machine). This song was written by Torr’s bassist Aleksandar Stojanovski (inspired by Torr’s yellow VW kombi/ van used for touring). This song was co-written by Torr’s guitarist Ani and Torr’s drummer (don’t know name). The band was formed in the early 70's by Torr's bassist Aleksandar Stojanovski. Parni Valjak’s singer Aki Rahimovski was one of the original Torr members and performed with Torr at Boom 75 festival in Zagreb."

There's two tracks to go now, the first of which is another band lacking in ready information - Republika 903 from Skopje. They were apparently around from 1970 to 1975 and so far I have only heard two tracks. On the track I selected they play some great blues rock.

Tihomir Pop Asanović -
Majko Zemljo LP (1974)
The closer is from an established name, Tihomir Pop Asanović. Born in the FYROM, he is a renowned keyboard player. He started with The Generals in 1968 and played frequently across East European and German jazz clubs. He was an original line-up member of Croatia's Time, taking part in their celebrated eponymous debut album in early 1972.

He played occasionally with Yu Grupa and SMAK, while in 1974 he founded a super group called 'Jugoslovenska Pop Selekcija' (The Yugoslavian Pop Selection), which included many rock and jazz players of the era. In 1975 he he founded jazz-rock band 'September' with Selection vocalist Janez Boncina. Since the late 1970s he played as a prominent session musician and finished as a musical instruments dealer. He made two jazzy solo records in the '70s, and I used the title track from the first one.

Thanks for listening!

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