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ZELJKO BEBEK AND PODIUM

Symphonic Prog • Yugoslavia


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Zeljko Bebek and Podium picture
Zeljko Bebek and Podium biography
Zeljko Bebek was the lead singer of the most popular R'n'R group in former Yugoslavia - BIJELO DUGME - from their beginning in 1974 until 1984 when he left the band for the pursuit of a solo career. At the peak of their popularity the band went through a crisis around 1978 when they almost disbanded. The band leader Goran Bregović was in the army service and other band members tried to pursue their own solo projects, unsatisfied with Bregović's "shepherd's rock" aesthetics.

Almost at the same time when DUGME's drummer Ipe Ivandić and keyboard player Laza Ristovski were recording their duet LP "Stizemo", Bebek gathered a group of associates called PODIUM in order to make his debut solo album. PODIUM included his old friend guitarist Eduard "Edo" Bogeljić from the days of CREAM-inspired hard rock band KODEKSI, a precursor to BIJELO DUGME (both Bebek and Bregović were members of this band around 1970). Drummer Dragan "Điđi" Jankelić was playing in various Sarajevo's bands and after PODIUM he was to join BIJELO DUGME.

The album ". skoro da smo isti", credited to "Zeljko Bebek, Podium and members of the Philharmonic" was released 28th July 1978. It was made in a symphonic progressive rock style but was played down by the press as a failure, while the sales were poor (allegedly only 6 000 copies sold at the time when DUGME reached 300 000 sold copies per album!). Live promotion was cancelled because it was assessed that the public interest was low. After this commercial failure Bebek returned to DUGME, but finally parted his way with the band in 1984 and started a more commercially oriented mainstream pop-rock and pop-folk solo career, which have been going on until now with varied successes.

His first solo album with the band PODIUM is important for progressive rock legacy because it was one of the few albums in SFR Yugoslavia made entirely in the "symphonic rock" style.

Zeljko Bebek and Podium official website

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ZELJKO BEBEK AND PODIUM discography


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2.96 | 4 ratings
... Skoro da smo isti
1978

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 ... Skoro da smo isti by BEBEK AND PODIUM, ZELJKO album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.96 | 4 ratings

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... Skoro da smo isti
Zeljko Bebek and Podium Symphonic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars BIJELO DUGME was on the verge of break-up in mid-1978. During the leader Goran Bregovic's absence when he served the military, other band members tried to pursue their solo ambitions. Drummer Ivandic and keyboardist Ristovski recorded their prog-influenced duet LP "Stizemo", while vocalist Zeljko Bebek gathered a group of musicians dubbed "Podium" to make his debut solo album. Guitarist Edo Bogeljic was his old pal from the 1960s band KODEKSI, while drummer Dragan Jankelic was a known session player with many local Sarajevo groups. Only keyboard player Neven Pocrnjic was a relatively unknown.

The album titled "...Skoro da smo isti" (...Almost We Are the Same) is a sonically compact, concept-like effort. Prologue and Epilogue contain similar background noises of urban traffic rush hour, and in between these, the tracks frequently segue into one another, bringing similar feels without much dynamic or stylistic diversity. Regarding style, symphonic prog rock influence (especially that of GENESIS) is obvious, particularly in the treatment of keyboards (organ and electric piano), guitar leads and unusual rhythm patterns. Arrangements featuring Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, often citing some familiar classical pieces, are a bit awkward and out of place, but these also provide a strong symphonic-like sensation. "I tako to ostaje" (And So It Remains) begins with a Floydesque bass pattern similar to "One of These Days", which later, after the guitar jumps in, transforms into an Uriah/Purplesque heavy prog style. "Sruseni zidovi" (Walls Torn Down) with its reggae-like rhythms and catchy guitar and piano riffs is a closest thing to a hit, which never was. The closer "U tisini" (In Silence) starts in excellent way with very nice semi-psychedelic atmosphere dominated by GENESIS-like keyboards, but from the mid-section, when strings start repeating a not so engaging melody, the composition looses fuel and the listener becomes regretting that the album did not succeed to attract his/her attention throughout. Bebek himself is in a good singing condition and he also more than proficiently handled the bass guitar.

Overall, the A-side of the original vinyl is much better and all three tracks are worthy hearing for prog connoisseurs. The B-side looses track a bit, is not so appealing and many musical themes are repeated from A-side. Upon its release, critics largely panned the album, the fans of BIJELO DUGME ignored it (the album allegedly sold only in about 5 000 copies at the time when DUGME albums reached 300 000 mark) and live promotion never happened. It remained an obscure and largely forgotten effort in light of the later much more pop-commercial career of both Zeljko Bebek and BIJELO DUGME. However, Bregovic himself praised the material as Bebek's authentic effort to express himself unconstrained by DUGME obligations. Bregovic also seemingly "borrowed" both the idea to use symphonic strings to a much better results and Jankelić' percussion services for the upcoming, critically acclaimed DUGME album "Bitanga i princeza" in 1979. So, here and there, this album definitely deserves a spin or two. MY RATING: 3,5/5

Thanks to seyo for the artist addition.

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