Wednesday, January 5, 2011

EX - Yu Music part 1

  The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not an Eastern Bloc country, but a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and as such, it was far more opened to western influences comparing to the other socialist states. The western-influenced pop and rock music was socially accepted, the Yugoslav pop and rock music scene was well developed and covered in the media, which included numerous magazines, radio and TV shows.

 The beginning of the 1960s saw the emergence of numerous bands, many of them initially inspired by the then-popular Cliff Richard and The Shadows: Bijele Strijele and Siluete, formed in 1961; the Zagreb based Crveni Koralji (below picture) and Belgrade's Zlatni Dečaci in 1962; in 1963 two other important Belgrade bands were formed, Samonikli and Crni Biseri.

 The Zagreb based Delfini were also formed the same year. After the British invasion, many of these bands later moved on to British rhythm and blues. In Skopje, a popular 1960s rock 'n'roll group was formed named Bisbez who were considered "The Macedonian Beatles". They were formed by merging two already existing bands Biseri and Bezimeni.

 The 1960s also saw the expansion of Beatlemania. Many new bands formed influenced by The Beatles or by the Rolling Stones, both of whom had large fanbases in SFR Yugoslavia. There were frequent arguments between the fans of both groups, though not necessarily violent. One of the important source of information for the youths to stay up-to-date with the rock music developments around the world was Radio Luxembourg. Certain British 1960s beat music artists played concerts across the country and also Yugoslav artists performed around Europe especially neighbouring Italy and Austria. On the border with Italy, several Yugoslav-Italian Beat festivals took place.
 In the mid-1960s many bands such as Džentlmeni, Roboti and the reformed Siluete were influenced by the rhythm and blues artists, while others were more pop oriented. Mod oriented bands also emerged. The most popular foreign bands were The Animals, The Byrds, The Monkees The Kinks, The Who, Manfred Mann and others. The Garage Rock sound (also labeled as "1960s Punk") was also popular. The charismatic frontman of Siluete, Zoran Miščević, became an idol of the new generation and a sex symbol. The band had a bad reputation for causing scandals and riots at their concerts. Their main rivals were the group Elipse, which, after getting a new vocalist, the African student from Congo Edi Dekeng, went on to play soul music.

The prominent Croatian singer Tereza Kesovija (picture on the left) represented Monaco at the Eurovision Song Contest 1966.

 One of the most eminent and influential former Yugoslav group formed in the 1960s was Indexi (picture below) .They were formed in Sarajevo in 1962. In their early beginnings they were notably influenced by The Shadows and later by The Beatles. Along with the numerous evergreen songs they wrote featuring Davorin Popović's trademark nasal voice, they also covered the famous Beatles song "Nowhere Man". In some of their songs they also experimented with the sound in a similar way to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Indexi gradually moved to a more psychedelic sound, with more complex guitar and keyboard solos adding occasional folk and even classical music elements. One of the band's notable members Kornelije Kovač, left Indeksi to form another legendary band, Korni Grupa, in Belgrade in 1968.

 Yugoslavia was the only communist country which was taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest. It joined in 1961 even before some Western and NATO nations such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Turkey, which joined in 1964, 1965, 1974 and 1975 respectively. Unlike the citizens of other communist countries, Yugoslavs enjoyed freedom of travel and had an easy access to Western popular culture.

  The Yugoslav scene also featured several notable singer-songwriters, who emphasized their poetry over music, and usually performed accompanying themselves by an acoustic guitar or piano. Some of them were inspired by the French chanson or folk rock. One of the first critically acclaimed singer-songwriters was the Croatian artist Arsen Dedić who started his career in the 1960s and is still popular in his homeland and around the former Yugoslav countries, especially among the older generation. Another important author was also Đorđe Balašević (picture below) from Novi Sad.

 He started his music career in the 1970s as a member of Žetva and Rani Mraz, before beginning a very successful solo career that continues up to the present. Despite being into acoustic rock initially, later he often used various elements of pop and rock often spiced up either with typical Vojvodinian humour or a ballad type of melancholy. A notable female artist in this category was Jadranka Stojaković from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She was an author of the main music theme for the 1984 Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo. Since 1988, she resides in Japan. 

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