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RADOMIR MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Yugoslavia


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Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak picture
Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak biography
Radomir Mihajlovic "Tocak" is guitarist, composer and leader of the band SMAK. His playing style is characterised by mixture of emotional expression and unique technique. Among other things, his specific style includes skillful fingerpicking and vibrato techniques. In many compositions he uses non-standard string tunings along with natural effects obtained from the guitar amplifier. For a long time he's been running his own guitar school.

As a solo artist he took part in many recording sessions of other bands. Together with Slobodan Stojanovic on drums and Mikica Milosavljevic on bass, he is playing in a trio called TEK. He also composed soundtracks for film and theatre, and in 1994 he was awarded for the "Byzantine Blue" film score. Tocak is also engaged in experimenting with computers while composing. His nickname means "the wheel" because he got a tattooed wheel on his right hand as a memory of his father - a wheelmaker.

Adapted from SMAK official Web site, by Sead S. Fetahagic




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
One of the most celebrated ex-Yugoslavian guitarists with unique and experimental playing technique.



Discography:
R.M. Tocak, studio album (1976)
Vizantijsko plavo, studio album (1993)

Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak official website

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RADOMIR MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.55 | 6 ratings
R. M. Tocak
1976
4.05 | 2 ratings
Byzantine Blue
1993

RADOMIR MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
TEK: Nis 1994
1994

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RADOMIR MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Mantilja
1982
5.00 | 1 ratings
Mars
1984

RADOMIR MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 TEK: Nis 1994 by MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK, RADOMIR album cover Live, 1994
3.00 | 1 ratings

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TEK: Nis 1994
Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars In between different incarnations of SMAK during the 1990s, Točak and Kepa led a parallel instrumental jam session career which was crowned with their collaboration on the film soundtrack "Byzantine Blue". In this period the group assumed the name TEK, which could be read as "Točak & Kepa", as well as "Točak, Milan and Kepa" if you carefully look at the rotated middle "E" and read it as "M".

A series of live gigs was performed across Serbia, Slovenia and Macedonia when they presented the instrumental material composed for the film, as well as some other compositions. This CD was recorded in Ni?, Serbia gig during 1994. It combines the tenets of progressive rock, jazz improvisation and blues expression. There are several notable jazz covers (Miles Davies, McCoy Tyner...) and a somewhat funny intake of the classic "Hit the Road Jack", best known for its Ray Charles version. The bulk of the disk contains however the tracks from "Byzantine Blue" soundtrack, which sound a bit rawer but also slightly less interesting than the studio versions.

One hour of instrumental music, no matter how nicely performed (and there is no question about the TEK's instrumental and performing abilities), can be a bit too much if you are not a peer musician or a dedicated fan. "Ni? 1994" is a good, standard presentation of Točak's musical career in mid-1990s but nothing truly remarkable to be recommended for average prog listener. If you already own or extensively listened to "Byzantine Blue" studio album, you may skip this one.

PERSONAL RATING: 3/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

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 Byzantine Blue by MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK, RADOMIR album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Byzantine Blue
Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars After his first solo album that appeared in 1976, Radomir Mihajlović Točak waited long 13 years before recording a solo follow-up. During that period he disbanded and re-grouped SMAK for several times, but the once celebrated band failed to repeat success of their early career of the late 1970's. Točak probably felt this was again an opportunity to present his personal instrumental and composing skills, unchained from the confinements of the group work, so he accepted an offer to compose a soundtrack for the feature movie "Byzantine Blue" ("Vizantijsko plavo" in Serbian) directed by Dragan Marinković. In many ways this was and still remains one of his best solo works.

The opening track "Blame" provides an opportunity for Točak to cover a traditional folk song known under different names also as "Ukor" or "De si du?o, de si rano". Guitar solo exemplifies the unique technique of Točak. Another traditional is "Blue Dance" although this intake of the folk "wheel dance" is less interesting. The title track is pleasant melodic composition done in the style of classic progressive rock with scat female vocals courtesy of Marija Mihajlović. The main theme of this track is repeated in the title "Blue". "Mathematics of Another Kind" continues in a dark jazz-rock manner reminiscent of early MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA for instance. More folk-fusion themes are revisited in two excellent tracks - "My Diary" and "Zajdi zajdi" - the latter being known to old SMAK fans from the album "Za?to ne volim sneg" (1981). Heavy sound is represented by excellent blues-rock "Havana Blues", while more experimental and ambient percussive and synthesized work is showcased in the two-part "Funky Turtles". These are only highlights of the record, while you can find many nice moments in the remaining tracks too.

Točak's backing band was called TEK and included his long-time collaborator from the early SMAK days, drummer Slobodan Stojanović Kepa and bass player Milan Milosavljević, who both provided firm and hard rocking rhythm section. Among the prominent guest players you can see also former SMAK associates, bassist Zoran Milanović and keyboardist Laza Ristovski in whose studio the album was recorded. It is interesting to mention that the latter should not be confused with famous Serbian actor starring main role in this movie, having almost the same name - Lazar Ristovski!

This is very good, mostly instrumental album with many interesting fusion, folk and blues elements that is recommended if you like strong guitar-based sound.

PERSONAL RATING: 3,5/5

P.A. RATING: 4/5

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 R. M. Tocak by MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK, RADOMIR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.55 | 6 ratings

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R. M. Tocak
Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars By mid-1976 SMAK already gained reputation as a strong blues/heavy rock based group with progressive and jazz-rock potentials. Having released one album and several singles would perhaps not have meant much if Radomir Mihajlović Točak had not presented himself as a guitar-hero modeled on the Hendrix school of guitar pyrotechnics and engaged in often ridiculous and juvenile music-press fights with peer musicians and journalists over who was the best guitar player in Yugoslavia. According to Točak, the answer to this question was obvious. In his opinion, all other great Yugoslav guitar players of the era (Josip Boček, Goran Bregović, Vedran Bo?ić, Slobodan A. Kovačević, Bata Kostić etc...) were somehow trading their artistic skills with commercial demands and popular tastes of the day, while only Točak (that is - himself) was pure in his uncompromising and determinant artistic approach.

In early 1975 he participated in the best guitar players contest held in Zagreb under the name "Kongres rock majstora" (The Congress of Rock Masters). Despite many fans and supporters, Točak was not selected among the best four players allegedly because Jugoton label favored their own musicians (Bregović, Boček, Bo?ić and Kostić, all of them appeared on the 2LP set issued by Jugoton), unlike Točak who at that time recorded for RTV Ljubljana label.

In July 1976 SMAK had a brief tour in New York, USA (at that time a rare opportunity for a Yugoslav band - only BIJELO DUGME at the peak of popularity had enough resources to support such a trip) and upon return, encouraged by SMAK success, Točak probably felt this was the right time for his personal "revenge". Album "R.M. Točak" is technically speaking the second studio album of SMAK, minus the singer Boris Aranđelović, since the entire band backed Točak during recording sessions. He was however dominant figure and he clearly showed intention to present himself as a solo artist with his own vision of guitar playing. Given above background, he did it more in order to convince the public of his merits than for the sake of his own artistic project of the moment. Regarding the music itself, the album demonstrates in a decent and competent manner the instrumental abilities of Točak and SMAK members. It is a heavy, blues-based jazz-rock record with occasional funky dynamics. "Oro" introduces a traditional circle-dance folk theme in odd time signature, typical of southern Serbia and Macedonia, in a furious tempo. "Aria Diamond", named after one of Točak's guitar models, is probably the best track on the LP. Six-and-half minutes demonstration of his guitar skills in a tasteful manner and memorable main melodic theme. Stojanović-Milanović rhythm section is strong as ever, while Ristovski adds some nice Hammond chords. In this composition Hendrix meets Blackmore in a creative and purposeful way.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not always reach a high standard of the first two excellent tracks. "Svrabe?" (The Itch) starts nicely with odd time signature, then moving into a funkycised bass and electric piano mode. The ending guitar solo section in which Točak demonstrates his finger acrobatics in a way - "if Ritchie Blackmore can do it, I can do it too" - unfortunately spoils this technically fine and competent composition. Too bad for a listener. "Neki paraziti" (Some Parasites) continues in a similar style but apart from really strong Milanović's bass groove the track is not very convincing. The ending notes on guitar borrowed from famous early synthpop hit "Popcorn" (smashed the charts in 1972 as performed by HOT BUTTER) only add a slight humoristic touch to the otherwise dispensable composition.

"Organizam Blues" tries to follow-on the tradition of slow-tempo electrified blues tracks by SMAK such as "Blues u parku" from debut LP or "?umadijski Blues" from EP "Satelit". The latter two were and still are the SMAK classics, which cannot be said for too long 7 minutes of "Organism", stretched out and boring intake of the 12-bar blues scale without much added value and poor main guitar theme. Album ends with "Modifans", another heavy funk theme with catchy and even dance-like grooves stressed by Stojanović's strong percussion including cowbells. Again, something is missing. Even the best of jazz-funk-rock can be boring without some additions of vocals or brass section or more structured arrangements and perhaps those are the things I am missing here.

Nothing really amazing or crucial is present on "R. M. Točak" album, apart from excellent "psychedelic" sleeve design, but it is a fairly decent effort that many listeners would want to hear. Given the above shortcomings, relatively short duration of less than 30 minutes may be even a good thing, while I would surely recommend you to check "Oro" and "Aria Diamond". Serbian label One Records re-issued this album on CD in 2008.

PERSONAL RATING: 3/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

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 R. M. Tocak by MIHAJLOVIC TOCAK, RADOMIR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.55 | 6 ratings

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R. M. Tocak
Radomir Mihajlovic Tocak Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by clarke2001
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The one and the only 70's solo effort from the SMAK's guitar player, Radomir "Tocak" Mihajlovic is very similar in style and sound with the SMAK's albums from the same era. A very nice, emotional bluesy progressive rock. Musicianship is very good, actually is almost on the same level as usual SMAK setup. There are loads of interesting ideas here ("Modifans"), rocking moments ("Svrabez") and a nice diversity of styles, including some Mihajlovic's experimentation using drum sticks on his Fender Stratocaster.

This album, although it is an instrument-oriented one, is as very intimate reflection of author's state of mind - it was made in the year when Tocak's father died. So we have here a perfect blend of - let's say - Santana-style blues, Robert Wyatt's introspection and DEEP PURPLE rocking, all spiced up with LEB I SOL-like style of fusioning Balkan folk with rock music.

The tracks vary in the quality, but there are no weak songs on the album. Perhaps the highlight of the album is the opening track itself ("Oro"), because it's one of the first efforts in rock music to blend rock with Balkans' irregular time signatures in a very particular form of a dance called oro. Radomir's guitar really rocks here, and it's quit difficult to follow the song, since it's written in 11/8+11/8+11/8+14/8 !

The weakest point of the album is the sound itself. It's...well...bad. Sound production is very seventies and very raw, but both in the bad way. The instruments sounds distant, and one can get an impression that they tried to get sophisticated sound out of the raw material, and at the end of the day you have great instrument interplays, but all muffled and emphasised in the audio mid-range. Pity. I'm not sure if this issue has ever been re-publish onto digital format, and if so, I hope someone skillful did a good remastering.

This is very good album (design and inner sleeve of a LP are nice too) with no bad songs, but it's not a masterpiece. Chronologically, it fits perfectly in the era, both from the genre's and the band's point of view.

A decent record, but try a few SMAK albums first.

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Thanks to seyo for the artist addition.

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