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Bijelo dugme - Sta Bi Dao Da Si Na Mom Mjestu CD (album) cover

STA BI DAO DA SI NA MOM MJESTU

Bijelo dugme

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Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "What Would You Give To Be In My Place" is the title of the second BIJELO DUGME album, which was released in late 1975. In the course of that year the band already reached stardom, so Bregović decided to invest a lot in the new studio album. The record was devised and the songs were written in a small village Borike, up the country in Eastern Bosnia, known for a horse-breeding ranch. The environment was influential to the overall, almost concept-like idea of the album, starting from the cover image, inside photographs and lyrics, thus making a highlight of the so-called "pastirski rok" (Shepherd's Rock) style.

Recording and mixing was done at London's Air Recording studios with the assistance of sound engineer Peter Handerson (later to produce SUPERTRAMP's "Breakfast in America") and producer Neil Harrison (also worked with British art/glam rock outfit COCKNEY REBEL). At the same time the contemporary stars like ROXY MUSIC and T. REX used the studio. The music production was unprecedented within the currently established musical business in Yugoslavia and the sales were enormous. During the first year upon its release, the album sold in almost 245 000 copies, forcing their label Jugoton to introduce the "Diamond Record" award. It was the first LP record in any music genre that was sold in more than 100 thousand copies in Yugoslavia. This period saw the mass popularity and teenage hysteria that media dubbed "Dugmemanija", mirroring the similar happenings a decade earlier in England. Even the Communist-led establishment now began to wonder if this all was a real cultural threat from the "Capitalist West" ready to corrupt the "healthy socialist youth"! What the hell happened?

Simply, in order to survive and to enable musicians to make a living out of rock music, Yugoslavian rock scene had to be "domesticated". Prior to DUGME, the rock bands from the 1960s and early 1970s (for example, INDEXI, KORNI GRUPA) were forced to play by the easy-listening pop music (Schlager) rules if they wanted to sell their music. Now, DUGME came and showed that true r'n'r standard template could provide the same success but only if topically informed with the local, rural, Balkans, peasant, highlander folklore themes.

The four songs on this album explore the "pastirski rok" themes of rural eroticism, the male-dominant macho figure of a simple, primitive, jovial and essentially naive but good-hearted youngster from the countryside, always prone to excessive partying, sex, alcohol and carefree lifestyle. "Tako ti je mala moja kad ljubi Bosanac" ("That's The Way, My Baby, When a Bosnian Man Makes Love") was a smash hit abusing the myth of Bosnians as unprecedented lovers, "Hop-cup" ("Hanky-Panky") was a simple and silly cow-bell spiced pop dance song that Bregović admitted to have publicly renounced its authorship, while a ridiculously long-titled "Bekrija si cijelo selo viče, e pa jesam, sta se koga tiče" ("The Whole Village Cries Gambler, So I Am, That's None Of Your Business") celebrates "ćeif", an easy-going lifestyle without sense of duty or obligation whatsoever, all for the sake of pure pleasure. "Pozurite konji moji" ("Rush, My Horses") has the lyrics evoking the pseudo-historical epic of a young man waiting for his horses in the middle of the night to take him to his darling. The lyrics of all these are written in the style of Balkan folk epic tales and of extremely popular contemporary (so-called "newly composed") folk music.

Bregović was once quoted to have said: "Our reason for success is a genuine Yugoslav one - we cannot neglect the fact that our fathers and grandfathers lived in the rural countryside and worked with horses or toiled on the land; that's why I always say that we are the children of the peasants.... However, we don't look like the ones - we are the Europeans with peasant genes..." It is remarkably similar to the characterization of the music of CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL as "the amalgam of rock technique and folk spirit; the music of the country has been urbanized, while the music of the city evokes the country life with nostalgia" (see Torgue, Henry. "La Pop-Music et les Musiques Rock". Originally published 1975 in France)

On the musical side, the production is very good, crystal clear, with assortment of instruments usually found in prog rock. Pravdić is brilliant on Hammond organ, Moog synth, Mellotron, Clavinet and piano. Bregović plays both acoustic and electric guitars with several excellent solo slide moments. The whole album sounds very "heavy progressive", and influence from the major hard rock acts like DEEP PURPLE, LED ZEPPELIN or URIAH HEEP are obvious. Even physically, Bregović in this period looked like Jimmy Page with Gibson Les Paul and Bebek sported an "afro" hairstyle with tiny mustaches like David Byron.

"Dosao sam da ti kazem da odlazim" ("I've Come To Tell You I Am Leaving") is a blues ballad with nice organ, piano and effective guitar solo. "Ne gledaj me tako i ne ljubi me vise" ("Don't Look At Me Now and Stop Kissing Me") is driven by a dark and heavy bass and organ riff accompanied by Mellotron. Surely this is one of the best and most powerful DUGME songs. The flipside of the LP continues with aforementioned "Horses", which starts with strong rhythm section resembling GOLDEN EARRING in their most popular tracks "Radar Love" and "Are You Receiving Me". Despite its folksy lyrics, the composition is rather symphonic in arrangement. Samples of rainstorm, horse-running and echoed/reverbed Bebek's vocals provide rich ambient for further atmospheric touches of Mellotron and Moog. "Bekrija" is a simple rock'n'roll song with somewhat glam rock sensation, the lead-in drums pattern sounding like SWEET in "Ballroom Blitz". Finally, the title track is another prog rock gem. It starts with acoustic guitars and Mellotron providing nice melodic intro in the vein of FOCUS ("Le Clochard"). The following section is a heavy organ- laden blues, which kicked start the rolling ball of urban myths that Bregović was simply a plagiator. This main theme is oddly similar to ARGENT's "I Am a Dance of Ages" from the album "All Together Now" from 1972! Nevertheless, it is an awsome composition with many changes of tempo and themes where Bebek provides one of his best vocal performances. The coda is again an acoustic piece with guitars and Mellotron with slight MAGNA CARTA hints.

What to say - this is one of the key rock albums in the history of Yugo music and its importance is hard to overestimate. DUGME would make more popular and commercial albums in the future, but it would hardly produce a more cohesive rock statement. If you ever come across this album, and it has been reissued several times on CD, just grab it like that nasty macho hand grabs the female behind on the sleeve cover!

PERSONAL RATING: 4,5/5

P.A. RATING: 4/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#148616)
Posted Friday, November 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a terrific record, in my humble opinion. I have the recent remastered cd issued by Croatia Record and I have to say the audio quality is really superb. The album is made of seven tracks, between 2 and 7 minutes, curiously with longest titles each as it's common in the first part of the band's discography.

Sta Bi Dao... is the second record of the yugoslavian glory Bijelo Dugme, a band that justly can be considered at the top of the rock classic experience in that area. One of the members is also well known in the western countries: it's a certain Goran Bregović who was then at electric guitar.

Musically, the album deserves its own place in this site. It's a sort of mix between heavy prog and balkanic rythms thanks also to the wonderful vocals of the singer Zeljko Bebek.

The opener is particularly strong and it's a short but intense ride toward a pompous majestic crescendo thanks to heavy guitar and moog synthesizer. Wonderful and exciting the final part. The keyboards element is not dominant and it's based, for the most part, on hammond organ. Fortunately, moog appears here and there giving tinges that only a heavy prog band knows how to do.

Balkanik roots are also quite evident in the track Hop-Cup which is built upon a folkish rythm even if not too far from the general mood of the album. This is probably the most interesting quality of the record (rectius of the band) and it shows its apotheosis in the self titled closer which features all the best: choral, pompous and majestic heavy prog alternating with softer parts with some sparse mediterranean flavours (the keyboards-flute-effect reminds me of traditional arias from Neaples). Marvellous and sad vocals for the band's high manifesto. Acoustic guitars in the opening and final sections give the sense of that pastirski rok (sheperd rock), expression used to describe their music during the seventies.

The middle part of the album continues the similar formula of the explosive opener: Ne Gledaj Me Tako... and, above all, Pozurite Konji Moji are simply superb and very well performed. Great heavy guitar riffs helped by fabulous moog impulses. Bekrija Si, Cijelo Selo Viče is perhaps the less original of the album due to its rock-and-roll clear inspiration. Another excellent number, though.

My final evaluation is justly high. When you listen to such a thing you cannot really deny it has to be called a classic. In my opinion it's even better than the acclaimed (and excellent too) Bitanga i Princeza. That's for its more refined heavy prog sound which is far from coming close to a true prog related item.

The band is still active but I think Bregovic is out. Some weeks ago I saw in Histria posters of their actual tour in Croatia... the tour is titled... Sta Bi dao...haven't got the opportunity to see them performing live. What a pity. These guys really rock!

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#173157)
Posted Friday, June 06, 2008 | Review Permalink

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