If you've been with me from
the first issue, you may remember that I wanted to write about the war
in former Yugoslavia and stuff. That's just one of 17 promises from that
issue to be broken, 'cause at this stage I couldn't be bothered to get
into a clinch with such a hard task. Besides, I would need about 143 pages
to say everything I want about it. You may as well check all these new
books on that subject that are available at the moment, but most of them
suck! If you are smart enough you should not believe the news that you
get through the media for a start, since I could give you hundreds of examples
of misinformation that I heard/read so far. Which is to say: the Serbs
have been portrayed as the only aggressors and bad guys without any reasonable
grounds for such a label. I'm not going any deeper into this, but if you
would like to learn more about it, or discuss it any further, just drop
me a line.
Back to the business - since
my arrival in Australia I started to get back into some Yugoslavian bands
that I once liked. Blame it on the homesickness or nostalgia, but as the
time progressed I became more and more obsessed with it. I didn't only
keep it to myself - I tried to pursue some Aussies and overseas guys to
get into Yugo r'n'r either by making the tapes for them or by writing about
it. A couple of years ago WA fanzine Pigmy published my "scene report"
on Yugo bands (what an embarrassing piece that was!), and apparently people
kinda liked it.
My affection for Yugo r'n'r
started at very early age. It was around 1974-75 when my father bought
us (that's my older brother and me) a 7" by Bijelo Dugme, who later became
the biggest rock band in Yugoslavia (and crappiest, for sure). We went
straight home and played it on our old gramophone and when its tiny little
speaker started producing the sides of the side A song "Da Mi Je Znati
Koj Joj Je Vrag" ("If I Only Knew What The Hell Is Wrong With Her") I felt
my life has changed. The next thing I remember is having a musical class
at my preschool when we were asked by our teacher to sing any song we knew.
All the kids were singing Yugo equivalents of "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "Old
Macdonald", but when my turn came I yelled off the whole "Da Mi..." much
to the surprise of my dumbfounded teacher. Why she did not send me to the
psychiatrist is beyond me. Also, I never asked my father why he bought
us that record instead of some kiddies' record, but both him and my mother
should be held responsible for me being infected with r'n'r and music in
Needless to say, from that moment
on I devoted myself to be one of them. After
that event we started buying records, mostly of Yugo punk and new wave
bands, but during the years, I changed my taste in music a dozen of times.
So, all those records we gave away, sold and even threw down through the
window of our fourth floor flat.
posing for a promo shot
- circa early 1980.
||In the summer of 1979 or
1980 (can't remember exactly) I was watching with my mom some entertainment
show on telly, when this band Pekinška Patka appeared, kicking their way
through a song called "Poderimo Rok" ("Let's Tear The Rock Apart"). Most
of all I can recall the singer jumping and monkeying around, yelling (in
translation): "Mum, it's all over now! Mum, I wanna be a Punk!" The only
possible question that I could ask my mother after that was:
"What is a Punk?" She gave me
some sort of short explanation that "a Punk" is someone who wears old clothes,
spiked hair, and whatever the punk iconography was at the time.
Before we move to the reviews
of some Yugo stuff I feel like giving a brief insight into the "scene".
I can't say much about 60's (except that I just got myself a copy of cult
Serbian 60's punk movie "The Restless" - there's a 60's band in it playing
one of the wildest garage punk instrumentals I've ever heard!) and early
70's rock bands in Yugoslavia, but there was heaps of "beat" bands (one
of them released the weirdest cover of "Wild Thing") in the late 60's and
some hard rock/progressive outfits in the early 70's. The biggest problem
considering Yugo r'n'r 'till late 80's was lack of independent record labels.
To my best knowledge, there wasn't any serious indies label until mid 80's.
Before that, all the records have been released on various major labels,
and in this case it meant government owned labels. Although Yugoslavia
was a communist country, it did not mean that bands had to sing about Tito,
or, like that East German band, who were allowed to wear beards, long hair
and torn jeans in exchange to praising the communist government in their
songs. It wasn't like that at all. It was more that major labels wanted
records to sound clean and to be a big success sale-wise. That's why most
of the records from the 60's and 70's sound weak. With such a policy many
bands just couldn't see any future for themselves, so they either broke
up or went abroad (I guess that was the case with Fire) in search for playing
the music the way they wanted. I'm sure there were Yugo bands influenced
by The Velvet Underground, MC 5 and The Stooges in the late 60's/early
70's, especially since both "Kick Out The Jams" and "Raw Power" were released
on a domestic market, but I guess they didn't have even a slightest chance
of releasing anything on major labels.
In the late 70's, when the
second wave of punk exploded in the USA, Australia, and other relevant
countries, it influenced many people in Yugoslavia as well. Unlike the
other Eastern European countries, Yugoslavia was much more open to the
west and records of foreign bands were relatively easily available. One
probably couldn't find "Radios Appear" any day, but "Never Mind The Bollocks"
was not so hard to get, and it was also played at some obscure radio shows.
That's why some of the bands
just couldn't capture their raw live sound on records. Still, some of them
succeeded in getting the appropriate sounding records, probably due to
them working with unexperienced producers, who (by accident, I'm sure)
made it all sounding very lo-fi, the only way it should've been.
|Again, Yugo punk and new
wave bands had trouble with the record labels, but since that sort of music
was very profitable at the time, many bands signed with the major labels
and they pumped out new records nearly every day. Of course, there was
a lot of crap being released in those days, but fortunately some bands
came up with the all time classics. Lack of good producers and studios
was probably the biggest problem, along with the labels' bosses wanting
everything to be as clean as possible, so that it could sell.
Los Zvuk - another
solid punk band ruined by bad production and awful taste in clothing
Most of the punk and new
wave bands sung against the commie government, either very openly or "between
the lines" and somehow they not only passed the censorship board, but were
played on commercial radio and government owned television. Not to mention
that the sale of some records went through the roof. Most successful new
wave bands like Idoli and Azra sold more than 100,000 copies of their albums,
while orthodox punk bands like Pekinška Patka used to sell more than 10,000
copies. I guess youngsters were hungry for r'n'r.
Unfortunately, most of the
bands suffered from the "second album syndrome". Only very few came up
with more of the good stuff, while the rest got lost in commercial pop
and rock sounds or just broke up.
Very few tried singing in English,
in mostcases with disastrous results. I never cared much if I could understand
what the band is singing about or not - music was always more important
to me. Perhaps nobody seemed to care promoting those bands outside Yugoslavia,
and the bands weren't willing to do it themselves. Fortunately, some bands
and labels have tried, and to a certain extent succeeded in being heard
abroad. Hopefully, this article will do some justice, as well.
|In 1982 punk and new wave
pretty much died in Yugoslavia, same as in the rest of the world. That
year Idoli released their best LP "Odbrana i Poslednji Dani"(and I used
the cover of that album as a cover page of this isssue), which somehow
sounded like Faust playing new wave/pop. After that, until mid/late 80's,
only a few records were of importance, but some of them defined what would
happen later - the explosion of good garage punk bands and numerous indie
record labels. How
come that Yugo r'n'r never made it big abroad? Krautrock is respected world
wide. Same goes for Czeckoslovakian underground. First, vast majority of
Yugo bands have sang in their native tongue.
The label of ultra
rare Idoli's first 7"
- released May
These days Yugoslavia is
a bit smaller than it used to be, and r'n'r is definitely not what it used
to be either. Since I left that country I haven't heard any band that could
come up even close to the ones from 77-85. Don't ask me why. If the time
isn't right for punk rock now, then when is?
Except a sporadic review
of some Yugo record here and there, there hasn't been any serious attempt
to widely present the music from that country in the western media. Still,
around a year ago I came across the book "Rocking The State", which was
about the music and politics in the Eastern Europe, with a chapter on Yugo
r'n'r written by Sabrina Petra Ramet. She also wrote a book on Yugoslavia
titled "Balkan Babel". I don't know what got this woman to get such an
interest in Yugoslavian politics and culture, but I wish she never had
any, for both books are loaded with crap of the worst kind.
Nearly all of these records
have been out of print for a long time and very hard to get. If you find
them in former Yugoslavia it is likely that you'll pay an arm and a leg.
I believe some of the stuff has been recently reissued on CDs, so that
should be much cheaper way to get 'em. I have most of this stuff covered
here in my collection, so if you're interested in anything just send a
blank cassette and I'll tape it for ya. I'm also interested in any Yugo
stuff I could get, so in the case you know how I can get my hands on anything
(whether it's been mentioned here or not), please let me know.
*FIRE - "COULD YOU UNDERSTAND
ME" (LP bootleg)
Back about month ago, the
local "oldies" radio station ran a rather interesting weekend programming
concept. Ever fifteen minutes or so, this station which usually tosses
hits from the mid-50s until the early-70s at you in a random, indiscriminate
fashion, was going to feature "garage band rock" intermittently at about
fifteen minute intervals! GARAGE BAND ROCK...man oh man, if this had been
1977, I would have been at my radio that entire weekend taping EVERY garage
record they would have played because back then I was just discovering
the style and hey, this stuff was mighty hard to come by, even at flea
markets you'd expect would be brimming full of old Standells, Shadows of
Knight and Count Five albums.
Even the fact that a commercial
radio station would recognize the garage rock genre is good news here in
1996 (meaning this stuff isn't lower than low music to be forgotten while
the same ten Cream records are played in rotation), and it was great hearing
this stuff once again on the radio as if it were still 1966 and wearing
bowl-haircuts was still about as socially uncouth as passing gas in church.
The hits just kept on coming...the Easybeats, the Standells, the Trashmen,
the Shadows of Knight, and if it weren't for the usually bland disc jockeys
and jockettes, the atmosphere would have been PERFECT.
Some of the garage tracks
weren't from the 64-67 era of big-time punk shindigging but from the acid-damaged
late-60s. And though I didn't hear the Stooges, MC5, Flamin' Groovies or
Velvet Underground being played that weekend, other greats were, such as
Blue Cheer's mind-boggling take on "Summertime Blues", not to mention Spirit's
"I Got a Line on You" and perhaps a track or two by Steppenwolf. OK, purists
might not see these bands as being part of the 60s punk experience per
se, but you could argue they were. Not only do I think I hefty part of
the same audience that grooved to the Velvets and Stooges also liked these
bands, but they too had a primal approach that could be seen as just as
much an evolution of the Kingsmen sound as Alice Cooper. And you gotta
admit that bands like Spirit, Blue Cheer, Steppenwolf and even Moby Grape
were pretty much a product of the garage days as much as the Stooges and
Velvets, albeit their overall direction took them on drastically different
If Fire had just as big
a one-shot hit as Blue Cheer, they probably would have been played on this
"garage band weekend". They too were loud band sort of stuck half-way between
the garage style and more heavy posturings, and their outright anti-intellectual
approach to this music is a ham-fisted, over-amped style is enough to at
least give them a nomination in the Punk Rock Hall of Fame, now being built
in the southeastern corner of my basement. Fire were a Yugoslavian band
recording in Holland, and their approach to sound was similar to that of
Blue Cheer's, or perhaps the first Budgie album. And maybe early Led Zeppelin
back when they too were more concerned with loud overbearing noise with
sidesteps into da blooze which might've qualified them as punks too only
their eventual history bore out that they mighta been fine guys but pretensions
I dunno who Fir singer was,
but he sounded like he gargled with tacks. It's ironic that this album
is entitled COULD YOU UNDERSTAND ME, for this guy is pretty hard to understand.
But he makes for a good singer in vogue with some of these other early
heavy metal guys who always sounded warped.
Besides this singer, there
are the instruments...and they sound like what any 1969 bunch of longhairs
in Anywhere USA (or Canada, Australia, Yugoslavia) mighta sounded like
with too many amps and too few lessons. The drum solo is pretty primal...not
as strange as the one on a tape of Umela Hmota's debut gig...that was incredible
in itself but this one's certainly non-flash as well. The guitar playing
is book-one as well, probably played on one of the cheaper brand of axes
available as well and guaranteed to offend "talented" guitar technicians
who read glossy music mags. I tell ya...it is a good record.
OK it's not the Troggs or
the Seeds or the Surfaris or any fave 60s punk aggregation you can think
of. And it's not Dust or Sir Lord Baltimore or Blue Oyster Cult either.
However, it's good enough to say it woulda been a left-field fave if it
had only came out in 1969 or whenever, leaving us at least one hit single
that would have sounded good on saturday afternoon while a nation of punks
were eating hamburgers, driving around in their second-hand 1960 Ford Falcons
or doing other greasy punk things. And really, is rock & roll supposed
to aspire to anything of a higher, more ethereal plane? Chris Stigliano
*FIRE - "COULD YOU UNDERSTAND
ME" (LP bootleg)
Of all the Yugoslavian bands
to release albums in the Netherlands, Fire must be amongst the top three.
Actually, this reissue of their hideously rare '73 LP is a pretty suave
example of post-Hendrix/Blue Cheer power-psych-blues, much of it played
w/ a fuzz-buzz so thick you'll wish you could cut it and spread it on toast.
The confounding cover art (which apparently got it banned upon release)
is worth viewing, as well. It tells that old Yugoslav fairytale about the
woodchopper who fucked the goat far better than I ever could. How precious.
*KAZNA ZA UŠI - "ISPOD
ZEMLJE" (cass LP, Sorabia Disc 1992)
Back in the late-60s, things
weren't as copycat as they were now. First off, there were plenty of fine
and original groups like the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Pink Floyd,
the Deviants and the MC5. People listened to these bands, but when they
formed their own groups they did so not with the intent of copying their
faves, but emulating them. Usually they adapted the sounds of whatever
fave band they liked to their own sound and situation, and added their
own felling and expression. Thus a group like the Plastic People from Czechoslovakia
were "influenced" by Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground, but
they didn't "sound" like 'em...at least not if you gave 'em a cursory listen.
Ditto for New York's Suicide, who were big Velvets and Stooges fans but
used keyboard distortion as their sound base. Or a whole slew of German
bands like the various Amon Duuls who were kinda Velvet/Stooge-y yet progressive...yet
Wagner-ish yet garage rock and all-together teenage space-horror. The bands
of the 60s and 70s were really good in that they didn't try to sound like
anyone else, but took the music and shaped it in their own image making
for a varied listening experience.
One thing that gripes me
about the late-70s punk movement (or better yet the early-80s hardcore
movement) is that it homogenized everything. Thus an alternative band in
India sound like an alternative band in Sao Paolo that sounds like an alternative
band in Beijing...AND THEY ALL SOUND LIKE R.E.M.! It seems that everyone's
gotten into the act to play rock & roll since it takes no talent like
Lester Bangs once said, though I'm sure Bangs woulda gagged had he seen
all of these bands springing up sounding the same and going nowhere, not
being wild and primitive and dunces like the Godz were, but doing nothing
and saying nothing. It's not like it was back in 1970 when the mere rumour
of some Velvet Underground-y band like Man Ray (led by producer Richard
Robinson and Lenny Kaye) was spoken about in hushed tones...now we have
millions of bands that "sound" like the Velvets and they're all snoozeville!
Kazna Za Uši are a band
from the former Yugoslavia that epitomizes what I'm saying. They're loud
and atonal (good things I might add), but they lack a certain uniqueness
that would have made me want to listen to them had they appeared back in
1975. Maybe it's just too little too late...we could've used a band like
this in 1971 only it ain't 1971 and really, the "moment" (which was captured
perfectly by the likes of the Stooges and Velvets) is long gone. This is
like having your 6th birthday party with clowns and cartoons...when you're
50 years old! Maybe it's me...bred with classic garage/punk then-trash
culture and too much an outdated turd to understand this stuff, but really,
I'm sure if you'd play any 16-year-old alternative fan a classic Velvets/Stooges/Krautrock
side next to the current flavour of the day, they'd choose the original.
As VON LMO once said, imitations never last.
I remember when Patti Smith
and the Dictators used to talk about rock & roll becoming the universal
teenage language. Back then (around 1978), they were talking about how
bands were springing up behind the Iron Curtain, and how rock & roll
was popular with kids all over the globe...a teen from the United States
could have very much in common with one from Australia...solely on the
basis of rock & roll. Well, I don't know if it was true back then,
but nowadays it seems that if Patti Smith's proclamations have truth to
them...only the language is dull and lifeless...a series of grunts and
moans akin to the cavemen of yore. And I can't see the youth overthrowing
their government to the strains of a U-2 cover band like the Czechs did
to the Velvets in the late-80s. What a letdown! Chris Stigliano
said about Pekinška Patka's
2nd album I have an impression that he hasn't listened to that LP at all.
It sure isn't as punk as their 1st LP, but there's only 1½ song
here with slightly resemblance to pop. Whole thing sounds more as if Joy
Division were a punk band, or should I say, as Joy Division should've sounded
in the first place. Predrag). Ron Lacer
The cover of the
first Pekinska Patka 7"
||*PEKINŠKA PATKA - "BITI
RUZAN, PAMETAN I MLAD"/"BELA ŠLJIVA" (7", Jugoton, 1979)
One of the 10 best punk
singles EVER! I'm not kidding. Both tunes are fast, catchy, unique slices
of punk history. Consider yourself blessed if you can dig one up.
*PEKINŠKA PATKA - "PLITKA
POEZIJA" (LP, Jugoton, 1980)
Full of even more great
punk tunes. If these guys were British or something, everyone would have
this. Is someone
going to put this stuff on CD or what? Maybe after the war...
Oh, beware of their 2nd LP -
it sucks. Guess punk didn't work so they tried pop but failed (Well, I
didn't mean to do this, but I have to correct Mr Lacer here-after what
These guys have an impressive
discography. From the "Lepi in Prazni" 7" in 77 they kept at it for years
with a double 7" and 6 cool LPs. Get the live LP if you see it and any
LP except "Sexpok", their last(?). Even that's not too bad, but the others
are much better. Ron Lacer
*ŠARLO AKROBATA - "BISTRIJI
ILI TUPLJI COVEK BIVA KAD..." (LP, Jugoton, 1981)
|*PRLJAVO KAZALIŠTE -
S/T (LP, Suzy, 1979)
Their s/t LP is great punkrock
with maybe a slight blues influence. Complex and memorable song structures.
*NOVI PUNK VAL 78-80
(comp LP, RTVLJ, 1981)
About half great punk tunes
and half new wave. But even the wave stuff is quite listenable. By far
the best of the half dozen Yugo compilations from that time. Ron Lacer
rare first 7" by Prljavo Kazaliste
Totally amazing and unique.
Hard, noisy and experimental. Some of the tunes lag a bit, but there's
a handful of classics that make it well worth tracking down. Ron Lacer
*MAJKE - S/T (cass LP,
Listen Loudest, 1988)
The new wave explosion seemed
to toss a lot more dust across Eastern Europe than the punk one ever did,
so it's nice to hear a quartet of young Yugoslavs playing a solid set of
'78-styled sped-up Stoogoid meta-punk. They sing in their native tongue,
but play their instruments like Canucks transported down a decade long
time tunnel. Big, loud, anthemoid thunk w/ some nice psych jack-off gtr
sprayed across the top, it adds up to a nice generic statement. Byron
*PARTIBREJKERS - S/T (LP,
It was late July/early August
1984. My brother and I were working at my grandparents place, shifting
the gravel to earn some pocket money we would spend for ice cream and lemonade
later on. The day was bloody hot. I didn't like the idea of breaking my
back, but couldn't help it. The pile of gravel was waiting for us, shovels
were lying around, the work had to be done.
I couldn't give such a description
then, but it sounded like The New York Dolls on speed playing some prime
Pretty Things tune. The drummer seemed untamed, guitars (no bass) fought
against each other and singer desperately yelled how even if he could live
one thousand years he would fit his whole life into one day. To a young
teenager, like myself then, that was the only and whole truth.
to look cool for their album shot.
pic by: Stanislav
||Small AM radio was turned
to the local station that played some, more or less, middle of the road
stuff. My mouth was sore dry and I was on a brink of collapse when the
announcer introduced the new band from Belgrade - Partibrejkers - and their
debut single "Hiljadu Godina" ("One Thousand Years"). It was something
I haven't heard before - fast, loud and dangerous for sure.
A couple of months later
I finally got the chance to hear B side of that single - again on the radio
- this time in a car on our way to Greece. It wasn't as fast as "Hiljadu
Godina", but the energy was there. Also, my father was irritated by the
The cover of awesome
Partibrejkers' debut. Pic by: Stanislav Milojkovic, '84.
But, let's reveal some history
first: apparently they formed in 1981. Don't know about the rest of the
band, but singer Cane was in an excellent punk band Radnicka Kontrola,
which, unfortunately, ended up releasing only 2 songs on a compilation
LP. The first Partibrejkers song that saw the light of day was "Radio Utopia",
which opened Vol. 1 of the series of comp. albums with some unsigned ("demo")
Yugo bands. The song was good, but it didn't present the power they'd give
us a year or two later.
|We survived Orwellian 1984
(after all it was better than expected), and welcomed 1985. When I think
about it 1985 wasn't such a good year for r'n'r - Sonic Youth and Hüsker
Dü were about to make it big, punk and new wave were dead and well,
most of the excitement was gone. Somewhere in hazy Australian pubs kids
were trying to give much needed adrenalin injection into the veins of punkrock,
while in L.A. The Lazy Cowgirls
released their first album, which was just a pale image of what they'd
become later.That same year Partibrejkers released their debut self-titled
LP - the best punk'n'roll record released that year.
Cane: "If Lux can
eat a microphone,
I can eat TWO!!!"
Anyway, Partibrejkers (which
means 'Partybreakers', and is actually spelled as it is pronounced in Serbian)
had their debut out in 1985. As with nearly every new band in Yugoslavia
at that moment, they got some radio and TV airplay. At first it seemed
as if they were going to make it, but I'll talk about it later.
"Partibrejkers" is the best
album ever released in Yugoslavia, even though I hate to give such qualifications.
There are several Yugo records that come very close to this one, but each
and every one of them has some weak moment, while this one hasn't got any.
It is perfect. I mean, if I gave my Top 10 list of LPs this one would be
in it, right there with the Velvets, MC 5, The Stooges and Ramones - it
is that good. Front cover, back cover, lettering, lyrics, music, arrangements,
playing, production, their clothes and shoes - everything is 10 out of
The cover is a shot of the
band in action - cliche, but works in some cases, and in this one in particular.
I'm sure if you're a punk rock fanatic and come across this album, you
would buy it without prior listening, just by looking at the cover. The
drummer looks like a runaway prisoner, singer like a skinhead who forgot
to shave his head for a few weeks, the guitar player as if he was undecided
(but still comfortable) and another one (very garagey looking) levitating
in the air. Back cover contains lyrics written in strange, square spiral
(if you get me), way and credits done in punk manner, ie. "nickname - instrument".
The first thing you could
hear when the stylus strikes the opening song "Ako Si" ("If You Are") are
the guitars, and the only thing you can feel is the force, which won't
you throughout all 11 songs of this album. It is possible that they just
came up with the wordplay on The Heartbreakers. One thing that's for sure
is that Partibrejkers were influenced by that Johnny Thunders's outfit,
as well as by NY Dolls, Stooges, MC 5, Dictators and the like. Also, it's
obvious they were hooked on r'n'b.
None of the songs exceeds
the limit of four chords (maybe a chord or two extra for a chorus), and
the thing that makes it all more exciting is the absence of the bass guitar
- only two guitars, both lead and rhythm, depends on perception. Now, you
tell me, how many years before The Gories, Cheater Slicks and Oblivians
Producer was Koja, once
in a seminal punk band Šarlo Akrobata, then in nearly as good Disciplina
Kicme (now based in London, playing rave shit - at least that's what I've
been told - how dull!). No matter how great the Partibrejkers were then,
he made them sound even better on record - loud guitars, thumping drums
and sharp vocals. Think about "My Machine" by The Humpers and anything
by Teengenerate and you'll get a pretty close picture of the sound on this
album. Even the break between the songs is so short, which makes it all
even more fast-paced and dynamic.
Lyrics are desperate urban
stories of love, hate, alienation, fear, lust, hope, and even child abuse
(with a chorus: "Tajna Tatina Devojka" - "Secret Daddy's Girl"). These
songs helped me through my turbulent puberty better than any friend, girl,
psychologist, drug or alcohol ever could. I can imagine what the author
of the lyrics must've been through before writing it, for there's no way
they were phoney.
I don't know much about
the background of the guys in band, but the rumours are that one of the
guitarists checked in a hospital quite a few times for drugs rehab and
the singer was seen performing some extremely hard labour jobs.
As said earlier, it seemed
they would make it with their debut - their videos had a fair bit of airplay
and they hit the charts, but nothing major happened. Knowing the circumstances
back home then, I would say they sold up to 10,000 copies of the album,
which was considered to be kind of a disaster for a new band on one of
the two biggest labels in the country, and would usually end with dropping
the band off. I can't say for sure if that happened in this case, but the
band broke up soon after releasing their first LP.
Apparently, their early
shows were great. The only live performance (in the line-up that played
on the album) I've seen was the TV broadcast of Yugoslavian Band Aid (if
you thought Band Aid and USA For Africa were bad wait to hear this one).
Promoters managed to put up the gig on the biggest soccer stadium in Yugoslavia
and lined up the crappiest pop/rock bands of the moment. Don't ask me who
decided to let Partibrejkers play, but I'm sure the person who's done it
got fired immediately. There they were - Partibrejkers were playing live
right there in my home! I could've just stretched my arm and touch them.
It was excellent, though only 3 songs, but they were cranking it up and
the singer ran amok on stage. My father got annoyed again.
Too good to last, as they
said. The band ceased to exist. Anton, a guitarist, shortly after played
in another cool band called Placenici (Hitmen - now, that's not coincidence
any more!). The singer also joined some band, but they didn't last long.
The other guitar player seemed to be very quiet for the next several years,
while the drummer, Manzanera, disappeared (virtually, I think).
Maybe the Partibrejkers
weren't around anymore, but they left a huge testimony to the kids out
there. They didn't sell too many records, but all the people who bought
their album "went on to form their own bands". Soon after their demise
lots of guys all over Yugoslavia realised that they could do it too, and
they've done it. Overnight the city clubs became occupied by new punkish
r'n'r bands to the delight of all the people (me included) who thought
the r'n'r died with Partibrejkers. Unfortunately, major labels didn't want
to have anything to do with these bunch of degenerates, so all that's left
from that period are several cassette-only releases. Still, at the same
time, independent record labels started forming up day by day, but that's
"Are we cool enough
for you punksters or what?"
The drummer (back)
looks like he had one too many.
Pic by: Goranka Matic,
Around early 1986 Partibrejkers
reformed with a new line-up. Only the singer and guitarist were still in
the band, with the new drummer, and bassist instead of second guitarist.
I checked one of their first gigs and it was great, but not as good as
before. Next year they put out second LP, titled "Partibrejkers" again.
Also their third album is self-titled as well, which causes a lot of confusion.
From that point on I realised they were lost. I did check 'em out every
time they played in the radius of 100 km around my area, but the
energy from their debut
was all gone. They sounded more like The Godfathers than like The NY Dolls.
1992 saw release of semi-good live album, and in 94 they put their last
(?) album so far - "Kiselo I Slatko" ("Sour and Sweet") - definitely their
worst one ever! These days I don't know what's happening with them. The
last I heard was that they played some big stadium gigs. Enough said.
There was a moment in 1992
when I thought they could still cut it - Partibrejkers played a gig in
the city where I lived the night before our wedding. We went to the show
just to have a few beers and kill the nervousness, and didn't have any
expectations at all. The band got up on stage and stormed into "Ti Moraš
Biti Moja" ("You Must Be Mine") from their first LP - the song I saw them
playing last time some 5 years ago. The whole gig was furious and powerful,
that we forgot about what was scheduled for the next day. Well, nearly.
As I am coming to an end
of a story, or a saga, as you may say, I have to admit I never wrote review
as long as this one ever (this was before I wrote Cul de Sac one-P.). The
fact is that I haven't heard Partibrejkers' first LP for at least 5 years
(I don't even have it on a tape at the time of writing this). Still, I
know it by numbers. I know every detail on the cover, all the lyrics and
riffs, I know every note by heart. Maybe "Partibrejkers" isn't the best
album ever, but it is the one that affected my life as no record before
And a bit of a trivia for
all of you who think I went too seriously about everything: in early 1992
during FEST (the annual international film festival in Belgrade) Partibrejkers
were joined live on stage by Johnny Depp on guitar and Jim Jarmush on back-up
vocals. I saw the whole event on telly and am still trying to obtain the
video of it. Also, Partibrejkers haven't only influenced the Yugo bands
- Antiseen have blatantly ripped of "Tajna Tatina Devojka" and re-titled
it into "Wife Beater", while L7's "Shit List" is nearly a note-by-note
copy of "Ulicni Hodac" ("Street Walker"). Predrag
So, there you go. I hope
you think this article was worth its effort. In the case you didn't know,
Chris Stigliano is the editor of Black To Comm fanzine, Ron Lacer is the
boss of Fan Attic Records, Byron Coley is, er, Byron Coley, and Henry Weld
and Kelvin Craig didn't do their homework (who would guess that someone
even may decline the opportunity to write for Uzurlikzurli!?!?). Let them
burn in hell.