Boneyard Media

Archive for the ‘Yugoslavia’ Category

Robin Gibb’s 1970 Yugoslav chart invasion

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Billboard‘s “Hits of the World(2/28/70, p. 65) shows Robin Gibb’s “Saved By the Bell” as the only non-Yugoslav Top Ten entry. It’s J.J. Light’s “Heya,” appearing at #9 in Switzerland, though, that really has me swooning.


“The Folk Bazaar” debuts tomorrow on KOOP

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

My new radio show’s called “The Folk Bazaar,” and starting tomorrow it will air every Wednesday at 3, featuring internationally-oriented folk music, psychedelic/acid/weird/neo folk and folk rock, solo instrumental folk, inventive singer-songwriters, exotic medinas, heads in clouds, and imaginations running wild. The Serbian group above, S vremena na vreme (From Time to Time), is right in the pocket (the song’s called “Strange Tree” from 1973). If you’re in Austin, spin the dial counter-clockwise to 91.7 FM. If you’re listening on the web, catch a live stream at the KOOP website (click “listen now” at top left). [Update 2/14: A few months after its debut I changed the show name to “The International Folk Bazaar.” It now airs every Thursday at 11 am CST on KOOP

Song ID: Azra’s “Balkan” and Heinrich Heine

Monday, October 27th, 2008


The heart and soul of the Azra, one of Yugoslavia’s greatest bands, is one man, Branimir “Johnny” Stulic, and to me he personifies the old pan-Yugoslav spirit. This is a mythical notion, some may say, but I cling to it all the same. Before making records, Stulic had developed a reputation as a Zagreb street singer, which suited his knack for writing such seemingly well-traveled folk songs. And although he’s Croatian, I wouldn’t characterize Azra as a “Croatian” band. Their first single is called “Balkan,” after all, and includes phrases like “we are all gypsies” and “Balkan, be strong and stand tall.” The inspiration for his band’s name, on top of that, came from a Bosnian folk song called “Kraj tanana sadrvana,” which includes the line: “My name is El Muhamed from the tribe of the old Azra, that lose their lives for love and die when they kiss.”

But Stanislav, our resident Yu rock authority, recently threw me for a loop when he told me how he’d discovered that the line actually comes from German poet Heinrich Heine. In Heine’s “Der Asre,” the closing words, which the unknown Bosnian translator later spruced up, go like this: “I’m from the tribe of Azras in Yemen and we die for love.” Another little tidbit: the mulleted ’80s Bosnian pop band Crvena Jabuka (Red Apple, who I’m also a fan of) appropriated the words for their 1986 song “Sa tvojih usana.”

Azra – “Balkan” (live video c. 1987)

posted by Kim Simpson

Song ID: Tomaz Pengov – “Danaja” (1973)

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008


posted by Stanislav

I translated Tomaz Pengov’s lyrics for “Danaja” from Slovenian into Serbo-Croatian and English.


Mirno je na tornju
pod krillima veceri cekanja
u svom jadu Danaja cuje
kada je vjetar prorocki poziva
u snu.

Ptice su tihe
i konji bjeze dolinom
vec ove noci ce biti kise pod svodom
strelica napinje luk
i harfe se cuje zvuk.

S jutrom braca
razgrcu slijepe i uspavane
nevidljivom toplinom sa strane
i malom kapljom na dlanu
koja hlapi.

* * *

It’s peaceful at the tower
on the evening wings waiting
in her misery Danaja can hear
the prophetic call of the wind
in her dream.

Birds are silent
and horses are fleeing the valley
there will be rain under the arch tonight
arrow strains the bow
and you can hear the harps.

With morning the brothers
uncover the blind and the sleepy
with the invisible heat on the side
and a small drop on a palm

Tomaz Pengov – “Danaja”

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More Kornellians

Thursday, June 12th, 2008


posted by Stanislav

More info about Korni Grupa. Somebody probably told them that “corny” was not a good name for a band, so their official international name eventually became the Kornellians. The group had two distinct approaches to their recordings: Their 45s were strictly commercial and aimed for radio, but their B-sides and LPs tended to be convoluted prog-rock concepts. I imagine it was hard for their boss Kornelije Kovac to negotiate the two, with 45s being so easy to record and get on the radio, while only a handful of people seemed to care for the LPs.

I stumbled upon this interesting video of their concept record 1941, which was written and recorded to mark the 30th aniversary of March 27, when Yugoslav opposition organized anti-fascist demonstrations in Belgrade. 1941 was built around lyrics previously published by the Serbo-Bosnian poet Branko Copic. At that time, Dado Topic (later in Time) was the singer of Korni Grupa, while Jospia Lisac, a pop/rock singer from Zagreb, guested on “Marija,” probably the best song on the record.

The poem itself starts as if it’s about the Virgin Mary, but it’s actually about a young anti-fascist Yugoslav Partisan woman, a fighter in World War II who fearlessly died while storming the Nazi bunker. Kornelije Kovac decided to give this story a musical setting reminiscent of the best Big Brother and the Holding Company moments. The 1941 film originally aired on TV in 1971, but the record was in the vaults for a couple of more years after that. (The reasons for this delay were definitely not political).

Song ID: Korni Grupa – “Moja Generacija” (1974)

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008


If you follow the annual cheese-fest known as the Eurovision Song Contest, you’ll know that it happened in Belgrade this year (Russia won). I couldn’t help but wonder how the entire event would pan out considering the recent protests and riots over Kosovo’s proclamation of independence.

I checked in with Stanislav of The Little Lighthouse, who grew up in the ill-fated Croatian/Serbian border town of Vukovar. He assured me that Serbs know how to throw a good party,” even with an enemy. All current enemies were apparently treated well” – the “Albanian and Dutch representatives got cheers,” and there were “no boos.” One Slovenian announcer was shown saying things like “Zdravo braco Srbi!” (Hello Serbian brothers!). Also, the Bosnian entry got the full 12 points from Serbian voters as did the Serb entry from the Bosnians.

My response: “Is there any hope at all for a successful Eurovision having an impact in healing the tenuous political situation?” His response: “Eurovision is a huge party… I don’t think people see it as a political statement.” He’s right – some people really do tend to wallow in entertainment-related subjects as though they had some profound function.

Stanislav did remind me of some of the Yugoslav entries of the ’70s and ’80s, such as the Serbian progressive outfit Korni Grupa in 1975. “They had a pretty decent song [‘Moja Generacija’] about WW2 although it probably depressed most of Europe.” So they bombed at Eurovision ’75 as martyrs for meaning.

Korni Grupa – “Moja Generacija” (1974)

Poslednja igra leptira – “Kiksmix”

Friday, April 20th, 2007


posted by Stanislav

When Kim started a series of posts about medleys, I immediately thought of one that was a moderate hit in Yugoslavia, but I had trouble finding it until now. Poslednja igra leptira (“last dance of the butterfly”) was one of the groups that appeared on the tail end of the punk and new wave period of Yugo rock. They were basically a parody band, but I’m not so sure if their humor still holds water. They were often played on a popular radio show “Zeleni megahertz” which was aired every Saturday morning. In true Yugoslav spirit, the show was produced in simulcasts from two studios – one in Belgrade and other in Zagreb. Lacking a good hit for their second album, PIL’s “Kiksmix” gave them an opportunity to reiterate their huge first hit “Natasa” along with several other folk and rock hits in a typical “Stars on 45” fashion.

Poslednja igra leptira – “Kiksmix”

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Krešo Blažević RIP

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007


posted by Stanislav

Sad news comes to us that Krešimir Blažević has died. Krešo played guitar, sang and wrote songs for his band Animatori in mid ’80s Yugoslavia. Although his band was based in Zagreb, Krešo was born in Slavonski Brod, a provincial town some 110 miles down the Sava river. Perhaps this was why Blažević and his Animators sounded so much more humble than any other band in Yugoslavia at the time. But that was not an obstacle for them, who had huge regional success with their first album Andjeli nas zovu da im skinemo krila. The album had a disarming summertime feel to it and revealed Krešo’s and the other band members’ influences, especially British pub rock and Americana. Their beach rock vibe was similar to that of Djavoli (who appeared a few years later) from the coastal town of Split, which was not surprising since the album was actually recorded there with producer Željko Brodarić Jappa. Animatori recorded two more LPs before Yugoslavia dissolved. These didn’t sell quite so well, but were far from embarrassing, and established Blažević as one of the region’s most consistent songwriters.

Animatori – “Andjeli nas zovu da im skinemo krila”

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Animatori – “Kao ogledala”

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Azra – “Proljece je 13. u decembru (Springtime on the 13th of December)” (1982)

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006


Happy Birthday, ti.

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