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OKO

Heavy Prog • Yugoslavia


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Oko biography
The band OKO (Eng. "The Eye") was formed in 1972 in Ljubljana (Slovenia, at that time a republic within former Yugoslav Federation) by the lead singer and guitarist Pavel Kavec. The original line-up included also Miro Tomassini on bass and Jani Tutta on drums. In 1973 the drummer Tutta was replaced by Dragan Gajič.

In this period they played mostly blues-based hard rock repertoire with Kavec developing unique although largely Hendrix-influenced guitar style. Later on they also included innovative elements of jazz-rock into their songs. In early 1975 the rhythm section joined another prog rock band from Ljubljana - JUTRO, so Kavec assembled the new group with drummer Tone Dimnik and bassist Franjo Martinec, which recorded the 7" single "Vse sem dal ti".

During the recording sessions for their debut LP "Raskorak" in 1976 Kavec again lost his rhythm section - Dimnik moved to avant-rock group BULDOZER, while Martinec left music business in order to study at a college. In late 1976 OKO re-grouped, this time with drummer Zlatko Klun (ex BOOMERANG) and bassist Igor Bosnjak, who played on tour promoting "Raskorak". OKO disbanded in 1978 having not gained much fame in SFR Yugoslavia.

Kavec gathered the band in early 1990s with drummer Gajič, his son Mitja on bass and several friends and released a solo CD "Hočes z menoj" in 1994. In 1996 the band played in the line-up Tomassini, Klun and Kavec. The live album was recorded in December 2000 by Kavec, Marko Bertoncelj on drums and Ernie Mendillo on bass, which presented several cover versions of Jimi Hendrix songs.

Although OKO remained an obscure band outside of Slovenia, they were important for prog scene in Yugoslavia as the followers of heavy progressive rock style under the influence of Hendrix, CREAM, DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP and sharing the sensibility of similar Yugoslav bands like POP MASINA, DAH, FIRE or DRUGI NACIN.

This band OKO should not be confused with the namesake band from Croatia led by Ismet Kurtović (ex DRUGI NAČIN, NEPOČIN) during the 1990s.

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OKO discography


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OKO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.85 | 6 ratings
Raskorak
1976

OKO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live December 2000 (Tribute to Jimi Hendrix)
2001

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OKO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Vse Sem Dal Ti
1975

OKO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Raskorak by OKO album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.85 | 6 ratings

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Raskorak
Oko Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Like fellow Seventies Yugoslavian prog-lite rock band Hobo, OKO ("The Eye") were another one-and-down band who left behind a sole release, yet one that's still worth rediscovering today. Guitarist/vocalist Pavel Kavec was the one true constant of this group, with not only line-up changes taking place before this album, but the group he had assembled splintering during the actual recordings compiled here. Blues based hard rock, Jimi Hendrix flavoured guitar workouts, light jazz elements and a couple of more fully realized progressive rock moments were the results for `Raskorak', and while it's only infrequently really great, it's still a well played and varied rock collection.

`Hoces Li Sa Mnom' kicks the album off in great form, an up-tempo rocker driven by a relentless beat propelling the track constantly forwards behind swirling spacey backwards effects, running water and crystal-like chimes, Pavel offering fiery little electric guitar fill responses after every line of his vocals. `Sve Sam Ti Dao' is an OK heavy bluesy mid- tempo rocker made more interesting with some cool snappy drumming, plucky bass and nimble electric guitar wailing throughout. The guts of `Hej Mala' is a throwaway rock n' roll boogie, but heavier stomping diversions throughout over deep-space synths wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Jane record. `Baj Baj' is another forgettable rocking boogie, a pleasant catchy commercial melody but only some tasty quick country-flavoured guitar fills during the verses stand out. There's plenty of slow-burn dreamy Floydian atmosphere due to some mesmerizing Hammon organ, but `Sam Sam' is virtually ruined by a cringe- inducing vocal from guest Zlatko Manojlovic, his screeching falsetto lady-killer croons simply go on forever and really destroys a lot of the potential the track was showing.

The two instrumental pieces that close each side of the album are the most exciting aspects of the LP. `Tema IV' is a foot-tapping feel-good cruising breezy jazz groove, with whirring Moogs, crystal-like electric piano, puttering bass that darts around the background and playful electric guitar licks all combining to bring some very positive mellow vibes throughout. The title track opens with glistening chimes and thoughtful electric guitar strains that almost remind of a spiritual-era Santana vibe, but quickly the momentum picks up that has the the band racing for their lives. Extended bluesy guitar runs and warped loopy electronics/ballistic Moog solos duel back and forth over dominating break-neck drumming and rock-solid bass. The band display a perfectly controlled and welcome looseness in the improv sections, and it's the highlight of the album.

Sadly it's the amazing cover art that is far and away the best thing about `Raskorak' (and if you want the album, you'd be better searching for the LP/vinyl reissue specifically for it), and every time I look at it, I keep thinking `I wonder if the album is better than I remember?', only to be kind of disappointed every time. It's still a decent disc, it's just that there's so many endless better albums to recommend before it. But along with the above mentioned Hobo, Kornelyans, Yu Grupa, Korni Grupa and others that have recently had CD/LP reissues, Yugoslavia had the good selection of reliable rock bands, and OKO are definitely worth giving a spin. With the potential constantly displayed throughout this work, it's a shame we didn't get to hear more of them.

Three stars.

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 Raskorak by OKO album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.85 | 6 ratings

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Raskorak
Oko Heavy Prog

Review by MJAben

2 stars My dad was a huge prog-head and still remains to be a great source of material and information for me. When he was just out of high school he decided to travel across eastern Europe, he was at a record shop in Yugoslavia looking for some interesting music to take home and more or less on a whim bought this album. A couple of weeks ago I was in his basement leafing through his several boxes of old records when I happened to come across this one, asking my dad what this was he simply shrugged and told me bought it in Yugoslavia, saying that it sounded like a Deep Purple with a little bit of fusion thrown in here and there. Intrigued I put the album on and gave it a listen and, in truth, I find it a difficult album to rate.

It's not bad, it does the hard rock / blues style of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep decently well and then on songs like 'Tema IV' seems to switch quite suddenly to jazz rock. It is an odd album in that it doesn't seem to know whether or not it wants to be hard rock, jazz rock or prog and will rarely be any two of them at the same time (never all three) which makes this an inconsistent album to say the least.

That being said, the musicianship is actually quite good and to be perfectly fair they do all styles decently well. The singing isn't great and the production is quite poor but, despite these things, the music itself is, more often than not, good.

I know virtually nothing about Yugoslavia, less about the Yugoslavian prog scene and even less about the language so I am forced to rate the album on the quality of the music itself.

It's good, the songs aren't always memorable but part of that may be the language barrier. I feel the first half is stronger and more consistent than the second half but that's not to say that the second half is bad, only weaker. I would say that the first half is a 3 star album and the second is probably more of a 2 star album.

On the whole however, I think I need to keep this album as a two star rating, it is good, at times very interesting and it never reaches the point of becoming downright bad... It perhaps begins to overstay its welcome but I never wanted to stop listening at any point and enjoyed the album throughout. That being said, it isn't always prog, the quality isn't great and the music is at times mediocre, even if it is enjoyable.

A nice addition if you can find it, but not worth the fortune it's going for nowadays.

2.5/5

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 Raskorak by OKO album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.85 | 6 ratings

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Raskorak
Oko Heavy Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars OKO's only LP record was issued in 1976 under the title "Raskorak" (Eng. "Standing Astride"). Amongst the frequent line-up changes, the bandleader Pavel Kavec remained the sole original member backed this time by drummer Tone Dimnik and bassist Franjo Martinac. After so many years the album gained a sort of a cult status given the original issue was printed in small circulation and never re-issued, hence the crazy price of this record on e-Bay.

The title is true; the band was really standing astride between rather banal hard rock and some ambitious prog and fusion leanings, never fully developing into either direction. Kavec is solid guitarist, a follower of Jimi Hendrix technique, but bad vocalist. That said, the two opening tunes where he sings - "Hoće? li samnom" (Eng. Are You Going With Me) and "Sve sam ti dao" (Eng. I've Given You Everything) - are still sounding convincing and strong, both having a groovy heavy rocking and decent singing and composition. They might have been hits had the label tried harder to pursue these Slovenes throughout then Yugoslav market, especially because the lyrics were sung in Serbo-Croat (then a common language widely spoken and understood by almost 20 million people in ex-Yugoslavia). But, it was obviously not the case so they disappeared from the scene shortly after the album release.

Two instrumental tracks, both closing each side, showed different, slightly jazz-rock face of OKO. Composed by Martinac, "Tema IV" has a nice funky groove with spacey synth solo, while Kavec's title track is a prog-oriented fusion with excellent guitar-synth keyboard solo duel. Both tracks owe much to the guest keyboard player Andrej Konjajev who later participated in the short lived but amazing jazz-rock group IZVIR. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for another guest musician, Zlatko Manojlović (ex-DAH). With his irritating falsetto vocal he simply destroyed the ballad "Sam sam" (Eng. I Am Alone), which was on its own a poor attempt to mimic URIAH HEEP's huge hit "July Morning". Ironically, Manojlović is much better singer than Kavec, but here he simply tried to imitate David Byron that resulted in a disaster. The rest of the tracks contain rather banal hard rock without any memorable moments.

Too bad that the band with remarkable instrumental potentials did not come up with stronger and better arranged material so it remained a "hit and miss" one-time attempt.

Max Plus CD reissue of 1998 contains 5 bonus tracks of all vocal compositions but sung in Slovene. The music market obviously shrunk in the meantime from 20 to 2 millions population.

PERSONAL RATING: 2,5/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

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