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Dah - Veliki cirkus CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

2.15 | 8 ratings

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2 stars Debut LP of DAH, under the title "Veliki cirkus" ("The Grand Circus"), appeared in 1974 in modest circulation at the former Yugoslav music market. Zlatko Manojlović (guitar, mandolin, vocal), Branko Glusčević (bass) and Velibor Bogdanović (drums) were keen to make a "concept" album, in line with contemporary trend of the "progressive rock". Thus, the album opens with "Prologue" and ends with "Epilogue", lyrics written by Zoran Modli (later well-known radio DJ and music promoter) pretended to have artistically "poetic" value, while the themes presented had been influenced by film and literature. Musically, DAH tries not to experiment too much but instead to follow the popular hard rock format of the time, adding occasional psychedelic effects, mainly in slower tracks. The power rock trio format, due to its limiting instrumentation - drums, bass and guitar -always provides excellent opportunity to hear both good and bad elements of a rock group. In case of DAH, solid instrumental capabilities do not always result with good songs.

"Prolog" starts silently with sounds of thunderstorm and rain, slowly building an atmosphere over an easy psychedelic bass lines. The vocal part continues into "Prohujalo s vihorom" ("Gone with the Wind"), a nice psych ballad where Manojlović sings about Scarlet O'Hara and provides some nice lead guitar licks. "Troil i Kresida" ("Troilus and Cressida") is powerful heavy rock invoking the classical Shakespearean legend. "Desetorica sa lomače" ("The Dozen at the Bonfire") and "Majka Jugovića" ("The Mother of the Jugović's", a character from the Serbian Kosovo epic mythology) follow in the similar heavy fashion where one can clearly see influences from LED ZEPPELIN or RUSH in the instrumental interplay. However, Manojlović's vocals are not very convincing in these two songs and the album here starts falling apart.

The next two songs are probably the most interesting on the album. The title track runs slowly across 7 minutes in a psychedelic jam vein. Lead guitar and bass are excellent, occasionally interspersed with sound effects of a flying airplane. Manojlović sings about "The Grand Circus" as an allegory for life of an artist and his tenor is very convincing. "Dobar vetar plava ptico" ("Good Wind, Blue Bird") is another soft-rock ballad with catchy melody and chorus that could make a hit-single. The namesake Yugoslavian/Soviet children's movie was shot in 1967 telling story of love and friendship among the youths coming from different races and nations and with a notable cameo appearance by Radmila Karaklajić, a popular Yugoslav lady singer who had successful career in the former USSR. Here DAH sings about a teenage romance between school kids.

Unfortunately, the last three tracks (including "Epilog") are disastrous and they tremendously diminish the quality of the album as a whole. Another seemingly film-inspired theme "Mozda zvoni Miss Stone" ("Perhaps Miss Stone Is Ringing") - "Miss Stone" is the title of the Macedonian movie of the late 1950s - starts nicely with mandolin and an easy rock rhythm just to be spoiled by stupid lyrics, and the senseless inclusion of two different tempos, honky-tonk/Charleston and Serbian "kolo" folk dance! The closing "Ceste budućnosti" ("Roads of the Future") must be one of the worst songs I heard in my life! An unconvincing attempt at blues rock is further destroyed by the most horrible vocals you can imagine. It sounds like one of pills and booze-induced takes during a rehearsal session!!! I wonder how Manojlović agreed to put this on to a record...? Amateurish screaming, yelling and idiotic vocal exhibitionism is unacceptable if you want to be taken seriously.

"The Grand Circus" is uneven and inconsistent album. It contains several nice (but not too essential either) tracks and a few very bad moments. Topical, conceptual approach is interesting but ultimately shows that it was underdeveloped. This is not a good album and I would not recommend it. Try instead the much better album - "Povratak"!


P.A. RATING: 2/5

Seyo | 2/5 |


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