Osamu Kitajima (喜多嶋修) – Benzaiten (1974)

capa cópiaThe music of Japan includes a wide array of performers in distinct styles both traditional and modern. The word for music in Japanese is 音楽 (ongaku), combining the kanji  ‘on’ (sound) with the kanji  ‘gaku’ (enjoy). Many instruments, as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries, the accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the 16th century. Western classical music, introduced in the late 19th century, now forms an integral part of Japanese culture. The imperial court ensemble Gagaku has influenced the work of many modern Western composers.

Notable classical composers from Japan include Toru Takemitsu and Rentarō Taki.

Biwa & Koto by Utagawa Kunisada, 1848
Biwa & Koto by Utagawa Kunisada, 1848

Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop (popular music). Japan is the second-largest music market in the world, with a total retail value of over 3 billion dollars in 2013, dominated by Japanese artists. Karaoke is also the most widely practiced cultural activity, ahead of flower arranging (ikebana) or tea ceremonies. Traditional Japanese music is quite different from Western music as it’s based on the intervals of human breathing rather than mathematical timing. (!)

Toru Takemitsu
Toru Takemitsu

Let’s go to our artist:

Osamu Kitajima (February 3, 1949) was born and raised in the beach town of Chigasaki (Kanagawa Prefecture), as a young man he studied classical guitar and piano; his first band the Launchers, was led by pop idol and actor Yuzo Kayama, the group disbanded in the late ’60s, after Kitajima began to work on his own.

After graduating from Keio University, and already a successful composer of TV and advertising jingles, he moved for one year to the UK in 1971, which brought him in to contact with British folk and psychedelia. Inspired by The Beatles, T. Rex, and Syd Barrett, he dubbed himself Justin Heathcliff and issued a lone eponymous album.

Dr. Osamu Kitajima, 1972
Dr. Osamu Kitajima, 1972

His first solo album in 1974, Benzaiten, was a mix of modern pop and traditional Japanese music, and was well received in Japan and later released abroad (Antilles label in U.S.) where it received some underground radio airplay and sold moderately. Also in 1974 Kitajima relocated to the Los Angeles area and later opened East Quest Studios; the late ’70s and ’80s saw the establishment of its career, with more than a dozen Lp’s, he has become one of Japan’s biggest selling artist internationally!

During the decades, Osamu Kitajima expanded his work to include commercial and soundtrack work, he provided part of the music to the blockbuster mini-series Shogun and contributed to the soundtrack of Sharkey’s Machine. He also arranged the scores for PBS documentaries on Japan, Chinese/Japanese film Mandala and produced a number of artists. Nowadays, inside East Quest Records, he continues to release his own albums (new and re-issues), as well as works by countless artists.

Osamu's Portrait
Osamu’s Portrait

Let’s go to our album:

This is truly a melting pot of Western rock and Japanese traditional music, very few have pulled it off so well as Kitajima does here. Either they usually fall prey to new age sappiness or move towards amateurish exploitation, fortunately, it does not happen here, a real serious work, the type of rock-influenced world music that still hasn’t been much explored at all. The album also featured Haruomi Hosono and it utilized various electronics: synthesizerrhythm machine, and electronic drums.

A bit different from our previous entry Buddha Meet Rock, this is a more elaborate record, with brilliant musicians and cinematic feelings, being a cornerstone of Japanese folklore, be enlightened by Kitajima’s masterful work and Bono Trinus!

Benzaiten Goddess
Benzaiten Goddess

The ‘IM’ highlights are Taiyo (The Sun) and Benzaiten (Reprise).

Tracks Include:

A1 Benzaiten (The God of Music and Water)

A2 Taiyo (The Sun)

A3 Tengu (A Long-Nosed Goblin)

B1 Benzaiten (Reprise)

B2 Whoma (Immortality)

Credits

  • Acoustic Guitar, Synthesizer, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Koto, Biwa, Drums (African, Mexican), Electronic Drums (Rhythm Machine): Osamu Kitajima
  • Bass: Dennis Belfield, John Harris
  • Biwa: Masako Hirayama
  • Drums (African): Kinji Yoshino
  • Drums (Tsuzumi), Percussion (Narimono): Kisaku Katada
  • Electric Bass: Haruomi Hosono
  • Electric Guitar: George Marinelli
  • Flute (Hayashi-bue): Haruyoshi Hosei
  • Keyboards: Brian Whitcomb
  • Shakuhachi: Tatsuya Sano
  • Sho: Yosei Sato
  • Engineer: Kinji Yoshino
  • Engineer (Assistant): Yutaka Matsumoto
  • Producer: Kinji Yoshino, Osamu Kitajima
  • Distributed and Manufactured: Island Records Inc.
  • Antilles U.S. release of the album first released by Island Records (Japan) in 1974.

Recorded through Jan/Aug 1974 at Hit Studio of Jean Jean Theater, Tokyo

Whoma recorded live at Nikkei Hall.

Antilles ‎– AN 7016

Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival

Alla Pugacheva (Алла Пугачева) – Mirror of the Soul (Зеркало Души) [1978]

capaThe ’60s and ’70s saw the beginning of modern Russian pop and rock music, it all started with the wave of VIA’s (vocal-instrumental ensemble), a specific sort of music bands performing radio-friendly pop, rock, and folk, composed by members of the Union of Composers, approved by censorship. This wave began with Pojuschie Gitary and Pesnyary, popular VIA bands also included Tcvety and Zemlyane.

That period also saw individual pop stars such as Iosif Kobzon, Sofia Rotaru, Alla Pugacheva, Valery Leontiev, Yuri Antonov, many of them remain popular and active to this day. They were the mainstream of Soviet music media, headliners of festivals such as Song of the Year, Sopot, and Golden Orpheus. The year 1977 saw the establishment of Moskovsky Komsomolets hit parade, Russia’s first music chart.

VIA Singing Guitar
VIA Singing Guitar

The term VIA represented a model under which the Soviet government was willing to permit domestic rock and pop music acts to develop. To be able to break through the state-owned Soviet media, a band needed to become an officially-recognized VIA. Each VIA had an artistic director who served as manager, producer, and also state-appointed censor. In some bands the artistic director was the band’s leading member and songwriter, while in others he played the role of an impresario.

Songs varied from pop ballads, dance disco and new wave to mainstream rock (although bands avoided the rock music label until the late ’70s, because rock was considered a bourgeois art and formally banned) (!). The typical VIA consisted of 6 to 10 band members, lead vocalists usually did not play an instrument, virtually every member of a VIA was a professional musician, with formal musical education.

VIA Charivni Guitar
VIA Charivni Guitar

The Soviet government had strict rules governing how members of a VIA were to behave on stage and conduct themselves in public. Performers were only allowed to wear suits, folks costumes, or military uniforms. Movements around the stage were discouraged and anything outside of the conservative norm, such as long hair, tattoos, leather jackets, or metallic accessories were strictly forbidden. Due to state censorship, the lyrics of VIAs were family-friendly, typical topics were universal emotions like love, joy, and nostalgia, or idealized vignettes from usual daily life.

VIA song recordings were done by Melodiya, the State-owned record company, and the concerts/performances were organized by professional associations such as Soyuzkontsert (Union Concerts), Moskontsert (Moscow Concerts), Lenkonsert (Leningrad Concerts), Roskontsert (Russian Concerts), along with regional groups.

Let’s go to our artist:

Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе
Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе

Alla Borisovna Pugacheva (April 15, 1949) started performing when she still was at junior school. In 1965, she composed and recorded The Robot, her first song for the national radio. After high school, Pugacheva continued education in Moscow State Music College, at the department of conducting and choir singing. Later, in 1981 she also got a degree in theatre directing at the (arrant) State Theatre Art College.

Alla Pugacheva started a professional singing career in the early ’70s, as a leading singer of VIA’s Funny Guys, but real recognition only came when she won the Grand Prix of the Golden Orpheus song contest with the song Harlequin in 1975.

Afterward, she went to work in what would be the turning point of its career: the musical film The Woman Who Sings, in 1977. In co-op with the band Rhythm, she played the leading lady, a pop singer who sacrifices her personal life for her career.

60's Alla Pugacheva
60’s Pugacheva

The soundtrack, which was co-written by her, included a myriad of pop songs, the Soviet audience, regarding the film as autobiographical, brought the OST to reach record audience of the year in 1979, as it was bought by 55 million people! (phew)

Though for many she grew to represent the government-pop culture that was forced upon the people, her popularity skyrocketed, and she released many albums throughout the decades. Her contributions to Russian music were recognized when she has bestowed the title of People’s Artist of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. She enjoys an iconic status across the former Soviet Union and has overshadowed a long time rival Sofia Rotaru as the most successful Soviet performer in terms of record sales and popularity. Her last album was released in 2008 and lately, Pugacheva is the main judge on Factor A, Russia’s version of the British X-Factor television series.

Let’s go to our album:

Primadonna
Primadonna

Mirror of the Soul was Alla Pugacheva’s first studio album, published in the Soviet Union in May 1978, as a double album, and later re-released in two parts. The Lp includes songs performed by her, recorded in 1975/1977 primarily composed by (master) Alexander Zatsepin. It became one of the most sold in the USSR in late 70’s early 80’s. By 1983, it had sold 7,753,500 copies, and with a general circulation exceeding 60 reissues, the album approached the terrific mark of 10 million copies!

A collection of singles, which had previously appeared in the film or in separate publications, it firmly stands as a kaleidoscope of genres, ranging from kitschy hits, funk-rock, orchestral ballads, prog synths, art pop, funny marches and much more from a devilishly talented singer and composer, prepare yourself for Alla’s realms.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Приезжай (Come) and Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other)хорошая поездка!

Tracks Include:

A1 Бубен Шамана (Tambourine Shaman) / Centerline of The Skies OST

A2 Верю В Тебя (I Believe in You) / Basketball OST

A3 Сонет Шекспира (Shakespeare’s Sonnet)

B1 Приезжай (Come)

B2 Не Отрекаются Любя (Do Not Deny Loving)

B3 Песенка Про Меня (Song About Me)

B4 Женщина, Которая Поет (The Woman Who Sings)

C1 Все Могут Короли (Kings Can Do Everything)

C2 Куда Уходит Детство (Where Does Childhood?) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST

C3 Волшебник-Недоучка (Wizard-Dropout) / Brave Chirac OST

C4 Полно Вокруг Мудрецов (Fully Sages Around) / Brave Chirac OST

D1 Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other) / Cook & Singer OST

D2 Если И Долго Мучиться (If You Long To Suffer) / Cook & Singer OST

D3 До Свиданья, Лето (Goodbye, Summer) / Centerline of The Skies OST

D4 Любовь Одна Виновата (Love One to Blame) / Centerline of The Skies OST

D5 Найди Себе Друга (Find a Friend) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST

Credits

Conductor: V. Terletsky (B2), A. Avilov (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4), V. Kleynot (A1, C1 to D5)

Ensemble: VIA B. Kleynota (A1, C1 to D5), Rhythm (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4)

Music: Alexander Zatsepin (A1, A2, B3, C2 to D5), Boris Gorbonos (A3, B1, B4), Boris Richkov (C1), Leonid Garin (B4), Mark Minkov (B2)

Lyrics: William Shakespeare (A3), Boris Gorbonos (B1), V. Tushnova (B2), Kaisyn Guliyev (B4), Leonid Derbenyov (A1, B3, C1 to D5), Onegin Gadzhikasimov (A2)

  • Arrangements: Alexander Zatsepin (except B2 and C1)
  • Photographer: Vyacheslav Maneshina
  • Supervised: A. Kachalina

Мелодия ‎– 33 С 60-09799-802

Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin
Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin

Tafo Brothers – Plugged in Pakistani Pops (2009)

foto cópia

The history of Pakistan film industry is interspersed with many vicissitudes. Starting almost from a scratch soon after the political division of the Sub-continent (1947), it gradually progressed to achieve self-reliance and prosperity, and a time came when it could proudly and successfully compete with quality films made across the border in India, matching them in (almost) all departments of cinematography.

The golden era of Pakistan cinema was the period between the ’60s and ’70s, although a number of good movies had already been produced in Lahore studios during the second half of the ’50s. A large number of dedicated movie-makers, who had made names during their stay in Mumbai, like producer-directors Nazir, Shaukat Hussain Rizvi and WZ Ahmad (their actress-wives Swaran Lata, Noor Jahan, and Neena); directors Nazir Ajmeri, Luqman, S Fazli and Masud Parvez.

Noor Jahan
Noor Jahan

And lastly, play-actors of the caliber of Shah Nawaz, Shakir, Alauddin, Charlie, Ghauri, Himaliyawala, Sadiq Ali, Shameem, Najma, and Ragni contributed to the evolution of Pakistan film industry during the formative years of the new state.

Lollywood ranks among the top twenty film producing nations with an average of 60 full-length feature films per year. Lollywood should take pride in achieving two distinct accolades. The first relates to Noor Jehan, also known as ‘Melody Queen’, she is the country’s most celebrated singer and actress, enjoying popularity in a career spanning about sixty years! Followed by actor Sultan Rahi was yet another phenomenon with a total number of 670 films, playing key roles in 525 films in a period of almost forty years between 1956 to 1995, averaging 16.75 films a year!

Nayyar Sultana
Nayyar Sultana (Malka-i- Jazbaat – Queen of Sentiments)

In spite of all, almost all Pakistani films cater to the local market and no serious effort has been made to broaden the audience base of its films or to enter these at international festivals. Very little, therefore, is known or heard about Lollywood outside the country, the indifference and timidity as evinced by this industry have a lot to do with the peculiar history of the (difficult) evolution of cinema in Pakistan.

The strategy of prolonged protectionism has failed to solve its main problems, along with the loss of East Pakistan territory, the inception of television, and the infiltration of non-artistic financiers, who had no or little background, either in the arts, or business. Consequently, senior film-makers, directors and composers went into voluntary exile and the industry was taken over by rich people who invested money for purposes other than artistic ends, much based only on profits.

These factors contributed to the ultimate decline of Pakistan film industry. (!)

Nimmi (Nawab Banoo)
Nimmi (Hindustani Vamp)

Let’s go to our artist:

As leading exponents of Lahore’s vibrant film industry, the Brothers Tafo gave Lollywood its first rock group in the form of expanded Sextet commonly known as Tafo or Taffoo to Punjabi and Urdu listeners. Mostly instrumental in composition, the sibling writing team emerged in 1970 providing incidental music and sonic variations for Lollywood love stories, with equivalence to the works of RD Burman, Mr. M.Ashraf or Sohail Rana. They would enjoy over a decade of film scoring and musical experimentation at the hi-tech EMI funded recording studios in Lahore.

Echo-plexes, primitive drum machines, analogue synths, fuzz pedals and such, provided many mundane film-scenes with playful/infectious freak-rock courtesy of these uber-legends who were the first Lollywood group to record their own LP!

Tafo Soundtrack
Tafo 70’s Soundtrack

Let’s go to our album:

The Tafo Brothers were let loose in the EMI studios in Lahore and were seemingly intent on playing every keyboard, stringed instrument and sound effect in the place. All tracks overflow with ideas, constantly shifting mood and sound as though played by these hyperactive geniuses. A delightful mix of Eastern grooves, vintage electronics, psych, and pop combined with a half-ton of charm and a dash of wit.

Once again, this entry must thank the work of Hindustani Vinyl and splendid releases from Finders Keepers, re-discovering Lollywood scene, with its spaced out and funky grooves. This amalgamation of sounds may be leftover in Pakistan cinema nowadays, but we’ll be alert for more of these mighty artists, as Tafo Khan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan works, be in touch, and Maayo Nga Biyahe!

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

The ‘IM’ highlights are Bijli Bhari Hai and Tere Siwa Dunya Men.

Tracks Include:

A1 Yeh Aaj Mujh Ko

A2 Tut Tooro Tooro Tara Tara

A3 Oh My Love

A4 Bura Honda Juwariyan Da

A5 Par Kahin Aankh Laraee

A6 Bijli Bhari Hai

B1 Dilon Man Laee

B2 To Shamae-Mohabbat

B3 Mera Mehboob Hai Tu

B4 Lakh Karo Inkar

B5 Tere Siwa Dunya Men

B6 Munda Shahr Lahore Da

Credits

Finders Keepers’ Disposable Music library imprint.

Disposable Music ‎– DiM001

Neelam Valley
Neelam Valley

Disciplina Kičme – Ja Imam Šarene Oči (1985)

capa cópiaThe Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the end of WWII (1945) until it was formally dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav wars. It was a socialist state that comprised the area of the present-day independent states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and Kosovo. Outside the Eastern Bloc, but a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and as such, it was far more opened and tolerant to western influences comparing to the (many) other socialist states.

Unlike the citizens of other Socialist countries, Yugoslavs enjoyed the freedom of travel and had easy access to Western popular culture. The Yugoslav pop and rock music scene was well developed and covered in the media including numerous magazines, radio and (pioneering) TV shows. SFR Yugoslavia was also the only Socialist country which was taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest, it joined in 1961 even before Western nations such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Turkey. (!)

Stjepan Filipović / 'Death to fascism, freedom to the people!'
Stjepan Filipović / ‘Death to fascism, freedom to the people!’

Let’s go to our music:

The new wave music scene emerged in the late ’70s worldwide and had a significant impact on Yugoslav culture. Like its counterparts, the British and the US movement, the Yugoslav new wave was also closely related to Punk Rock, Ska, Reggae, 2 Tone, Mod Revival, etc. The period around 1982 is considered especially crucial concerning the decline of the scene in Yugoslavia, and around the globe.

Zoran Kostić-Cane, the former vocalist of Radnička Kontrola, formed the furious garage punk group Partibrejkers and achieved huge success. Idoli, Prljavo Kazalište, and Film became pop-rock and all of them respectively achieved great mainstream success. The cult band Azra gradually moved on to a more conventional folk-rock sound and Električni Orgazam went through a psychedelic phase.

Partibrejkers, 1981
Partibrejkers, 1981

Symbols of the Yugoslav new wave era are the compilation albums Paket Aranžman, Novi Punk Val, Artistička Radna Akcija and especially movies Davitelj Protiv Davitelja (starring Idoli member Srđan Šaper) and Dečko Koji Obećava (featuring appearances by Šarlo Akrobata and Idoli). Also, an important rockumentary covering this effervescent period is Sretno Dijete, check it out! Lastly, Dušan Kojić-Koja, the former bass player of Šarlo Akrobata formed the legendary group Disciplina Kičme.

This period in the former Yugoslav music is considered a Golden Age Era!

Paket Aranžman (Compilation), 1981
Paket Aranžman (Compilation), 1981

Let’s go to our artist:

Disciplina Kičme (Spinal Discipline), currently working under the slightly altered name of Disciplin A Kitschme, was one of two spin-offs of the seminal Belgrade post-punk/new-wave band Šarlo Akrobata, the other being Ekatarina Velika.

Founded in 1982 by Dušan Kojić-Koja (bass and vocals), Disciplina Kičme was characterized by unconventional line-ups: bass + one or two drummers, sometimes with and without a brass line. Musically, they are best described as an aggressive and artistic rhythmic explosion, experimenting and seeking out new expressiveness while finding (plenty) inspiration in the traditions of punk rock, funk, jazz fusion, noise, drum n’ bass and even the works of Jimi Hendrix. (!)

Disciplina Kičme (Koja & Zica), 1982
Disciplina Kičme (Zica & Koja), 1982

Let’s go to our album:

After the first independent album release Sviđa Mi Se Da Ti Ne Bude Prijatno (1983), the band continued performing in major Yugoslav cities, mainly in small clubs, and in 1985, they released an EP Ja Imam Šarene Oči (I Have Colorful Eyes), with the single ‘Novac Neće Doći’, released by Slovenian label Dokumentarna.

Todorović did the drums and Krasavac appeared only on the intro for the track ‘Sviđa Mi Se…’ and on ’28. jun 1984′ recorded live at Belgrade’s SKC on the same date. Kojić produced the EP and for the first time included a trumpet played by Jugoslav Muškinja. Along the decades they passed through many different line-ups and styles, with a (very) active career, being internationally recognized.

Nowadays, the band enjoys a solid cult status and the last album from 2011!

Disciplin A Kitschme
Disciplin A Kitschme

Disciplina Kičme also held three albums in the YU 100: The Best albums of Yugoslav Pop and Rock music book: Sviđa Mi Se Da Ti Ne Bude Prijatno (No. 52), Zeleni Zub Na Planeti Dosade (No. 32) and Svi Za Mnom! (No. 65) (!)

The ‘IM’ highlights are Veruj Meni! and Vaspitanje.

Góða Ferð!

Tracks Include:

A1 Doboš 7 Puta (Snare Drum 7 Times)

A2 Novac Neće Doći! (Money Won’t Come)

A3 Veruj Meni! (Trust Me!)

A4 Pristanište (Pier)

B1 Sviđa Mi Se… (I Like…)

B2 Pregršt Novca (Plenty of Money)

B3 Vaspitanje (Manners)

B4 28. Jun 84!

Credits

  • Bass, Vocals, Bells: Koja (Dušan Kojić)
  • Drums, Percussion (Daire): Zica (Srđan Todorović)
  • Drums on 5 and 9: Nenad Krasavac
  • Handclaps: Đorđe Kostić, Nenad Krasavac
  • Music, Lyrics, Artwork (Cover): Dušan Kojić
  • Trumpet: Jugoslav Muškinja
  • Photography: Igor Petrović
  • Producer: Disciplina Kičme
  • Producer, Handclaps: Darko Milojković
  • Recorded: Enco Lesić
  • Recorded, Producer: Miroslav Cvetković

Recorded at studio Druga Maca, Beograd, September 1983 / 12’’ EP

B4 recorded live in SKC on 28.06.1984 w/ Branislav Trivić (sax), Zekerman (trumpet)

Dokumentarna ‎– DOK P-4

Belgrade Fortress
Belgrade Fortress

Katarina II – Katarina II (1984)

capaAfter the quintessential Belgrade new wave band of the early ’80s, Šarlo Akrobata, hit the rocks, the trio essentially splintered in two directions. Bass player Dušan Kojić went on to form Disciplina Kičme, where he continued to experiment with various musical influences, while the more lyrical, poetic of the two, vocalist/guitar player Milan Mladenović, opted to form Katarina II. Named as such, the band which later reached starry (in local terms) heights under Ekatarina Velika moniker released only this album, which quickly became a cult favorite in old Yugoslavia.

The New Wave music scene emerged at the end of the ’70s, it was especially advocated by the music magazines Polet from Zagreb and Džuboks from Belgrade, and by the TV show Rokenroler, which was famous for its artistic music videos.

Šarlo Akrobata
Šarlo Akrobata

Important bands of the Yugoslav new wave are Šarlo Akrobata, Idoli, Prljavo Kazalište, Azra, Električni Orgazam, Aerodrom, Atomsko Skoloniste, Laboratorija Zvuka, Lačni Franz, Gu Gu, Hazard, Moulin Rouge, and many others. (!)

Let’s go to our artist:

Ekatarina Velika (Catherine the Great, also called EKV) was a rock group from Belgrade, Serbia. During its existence, EKV built up a devoted following that greatly intensified and expanded after the death of its frontman Milan Mladenović in 1994, which caused the band to dissolve. The group’s core consisted of singer and guitarist Milan Mladenović, keyboardist Margita Stefanović and bassist Bojan Pečar.

Initially named Katarina II, was formed in February 1982 following the breakup of Šarlo Akrobata, Katarina II’s self-titled debut album finally came out in 1984.

Magazine Issue
Magazine Issue

After the release the group fell apart due to artistic differences, guitarist Gagi Mihajlović claimed rights to the Katarina II name, then, the remaining members settled on Ekatarina Velika. In 1985, EKV released their debut album, Ekatarina Velika, the Lp is characterized by an energetic sound and Milan’s hermetic, introspective, and metaphorical lyrics. 1986 follow up album S Vetrom Uz Lice proved to be the breakthrough album that turned them into bona fide stars!

The hits included ‘Budi Sam Na Ulici’ and ‘Ti Si Sav Moj Bol’, in addition to wider mainstream acceptance, S Vetrom Uz Lice also got some lukewarm reviews from critics complaining it sounded too much like Simple Minds and The Mission (sic).

80's Promo
80’s Promo

In 1987 the band recorded and released Ljubav, it displayed a more guitar-oriented, polished sound, partly because of new producer Theodore Yanni. It also showed the first signs of Milan’s depressive lyrics, as exemplified by song ‘Tonemo’; the band confirmed their newfound star status with two consecutive sold-out shows at Belgrade’s Hala Pionir sports arena. The 1989 album Samo Par Godina Za Nas wasn’t received well by the critics, though it does feature the song Par Godina Za Nas which was voted the best (ex) Yugoslavian rock song in 2006 by Serbian Radios!

In the ’90s the band released albums irregularly due to band changes and the political situation in Yugoslavia. Dum Dum (1991) and Neko Nas Posmatra (1993) were released but the band slowly fell apart. Milan Mladenović was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August and died on November 5, 1994, at the age of 36.

Margita Stefanović (RIP)
Margita Stefanović

Bassist Bojan Pečar died in London on October 13, 1998, aged 37, as a result of a heart attack. Early drummers Ivan ‘Vd’ Vdović passed away in 1992 and Dušan Dejanović died from AIDS on November 16, 2000. Keyboard player and vocalist Margita Stefanović died on September 18, 2002, drug abuse was rumored (never confirmed) to be the cause, she was 43 and the last of the original line up left. (RIP all of them)

Let’s go to our album:

The band had started the recording of the album in Beograd but due to various problems, it was finally recorded for the Slovenian label ZKP RTLJ (RTV Ljubljana). The album producer was Đorđe Petrović, and guest stars were Mario Čelik (congas) and Jurij Novoselić (saxophone) from the (famous) Croatian new wave band Film.

Initially pressed in mere 3,000 copies, Katarina II is a spirited debut effort, torn somewhere between the new wave aesthetic and polished rock sound which became the hallmark of Ekatarina Velika. Essentially, there are two main vibes to discern on this album, Milan Mladenović’s songs are more progressive in its approach, like ‘Jesen’, ‘Geto’ and ‘Aut’, contrasting with the songs written by Dragan Mihajlović, ‘Vrt’, ‘Platforme’ and ‘Treba Da Se Čisti’, which retain the structure and faux-mysticism of the previous movement (Idoli and Šarlo Akrobata).

Back Cover
Back Cover

Slotted in between is a beautiful little ballad ‘Kad Krenem Ka’, written and sang by Margita, as well as a cheery pop number ‘Radostan Dan’. Overall, it all makes for a well-rounded package, with a couple of classics (Geto and Jesen) and eclipsed influences such as Talking Heads. An absolutely essential listen, Sretan Put!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Radostan Dan and Ja Znam.

Tracks Include:

A1 Aut

A2 Vrt

A3 Platforme

A4 Radostan Dan

A5 Geto

B1 Treba da Se Čisti 1

B2 Ja Znam

B3 Kad Krenem Ka

B4 Treba da Se Čisti 2

B5 Jesen

Credits

  • Bass: Bojan Pečar
  • Drums, Percussion: Ivan Vdović
  • Guitar: Dragomir Mihailović
  • Guitar, Vocals: Milan Mladenović
  • Keyboards, Vocals: Margita Stefanović
  • Congas (Featuring): Mario Čelik
  • Music, Arranged: Katarina II
  • Photography: Aleksandar Knežević, Ivan Pešić, Srđan Vejvoda
  • Design: Margita
  • Producer, Recorded: Đorđe Petrović

Recorded at studio Akvarius, Beograd, end of December, 1983.

ZKP RTVL ‎– LD 0954

Uvac Canyon
Uvac Canyon