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Baris Manco - Degmesin... Yagli Boya CD (album) cover

DEGMESIN... YAGLI BOYA

Baris Manco

 

Crossover Prog

3.09 | 2 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bilek
3 stars I divide Barış Manço's music into several phases; as with all artists/band I enjoy listening to. Roughly, there's the beginning phase (with twist and then standard Rock'n'Roll songs, netween 1962 and 1968); the Psychedelic/Anatolian Rock phase (1968 to 1971); pure Anatolian Rock / Progressive phase (1972 to 1979); Eclectic Progressive phase (including still heavy Anatolian influences plus some poppy aspects, 1979 to 1985); and outright pop phase, from 1986 to his death in 1999. But without going into such detail, I consider anything he produced up to 1985 "good", and after 1985 "bad", with gradual deterioration, of course. That is, after 1985 his albums go in this order: "so-so" "not so good" "OMG, did he really do that?" and "avoid at all costs..." Anyway, you can read about them in their separate pages, if I ever review them (or someone else does, for that matter...) While I draw the line between 1985 and 1986 (something really happened those days, because I share the same sentiments for most other Turkish artists/bands, not necessarily prog, not even rock) I can say that the line is somewhat blurred, and there are some aspects I don't like about the 1985 album (mainly, the synth sound), and while I do not consider this album I'm reviewing a Barış Manço classic, it does have more than a few redeeming qualities, and I'm writing all these to tell about them. Roughly, we can consider Barış Manço's 1970-1985 period "progressive"; and post-1985 as not so progressive... In fact, anything he produced after this album are not remotely prog, in any sense of the word. So, to use an analogy from Genesis, if 1985's "24 Ayar Manço" is Barış Manço's "Duke" (I chose that one, because I actually like that album, even more than And There Were 3!), "Değmesin Yağlı Boya" is his Abacab... And after that everything goes downhill, with only a few concert recordings to save the day! (Sadly, Manço did not even produce his "Three Sides Live" or "The Way We Walk - The Longs"... all we have afterwards is "Invisible Touch" over and over again!)

First of all, this album is notable for being the last one (for a long time, at least) to have all the members of Kurtalan Ekspres playing. The reason for this, according to many Barış Manço biographies and reviews on the web, is that he wanted to explore TV producing further (indeed, after hosting short segments in several shows from time to time, he started his own show to air on Sunday mornings in 1988), so in this attempt he pushed band music behind. The band still continued to exist, but they only played in concerts, and after some time they started to show up in his TV shows as well. Starting with this album, Manço began working with Garo Mafyan, one of the renown arrangers and keyboard players of Turkish pop scene at the time, notable for his "assembly line" approach towards music. That is, he was involved with arrangements & production of about ten albums a year in late '80's and nineties, and those are what I was aware of! Using digital keyboards, sequencers and computer programmed drumming to create an entire album (other than singing) is not a good idea, at least as far as Turkish music is concerned. I mean, this Garo guy is no Edgar Froese or Klaus Schulze! But I digress... Luckily, In the first album he worked with Manço and Ekspres, his involvement is quite limited. he is credited with arrangement of only two tracks in the album, and though he played the keyboards, most of the music was still produced in a band approach, i.e. there was live bass, guitar was a melody instrument, not just used for 25 second solos in select tracks, and woodwinds still have a prominent role in this album. That's redeeming quality number one. Unfortunately, the double drumming rhythm section that was employed in Kurtalan Ekspres since its formation (which, most of the time, included two drummers and an assorted percussionist, making it actually triple fold) broke in this album, when the long-standing drummer Caner Bora left, and former percussionist Celal Güven took over drumming duties, which he performed with an electronic drumkit... Now, I'm not against the use of such equipment, but especially in the eighties that technology was still in development, and they didn't sound very lively. Or, people down here just didn't know how to make good use of them :) In the previous "24 Ayar Manço" album Bora played acoustic drumkit, while Güven played both assorted percussion (such as congas) and electronic drums, so the sound was quite tolerable, with all the ryhtmic sequences coming from "live drums" (as we call them), and electronic sounds only adding flavor. Now, here we have only Güven, playing the entire thing in digitalized form... Not your ideal Anatolian Rock, I would say.. Still, a tad better than the totally computerized rhythm section, that would infect (almost) all Manço albums from this point on!

The album starts with "S.O.S. Aman Hocam" which sounds like a modernized Rock'n'Roll number in the beginning, featuring a cheesy '80's sound with a digital keyboard melody and the electronic drumming I just mentiond, luckily augmented by rhythm guitar. Manço lists all the letters of Turkish alphabet, and with "z" the melody changes and the guitar starts playing a riff; while repeating the title in a rhythmic fashion, on the background Manço lists some seemingly unrelated high-school course subjects (as diverse as chemistry, geography, biology and logic...). This pattern repeats twice, and in the second part the alphabet section is kept shorter, and as soon as "S.O.S. Aman Hocam"s come in, the guitar starts playing a killer solo, unfortunately buried a little in the mix. It is one of Bahadır Akkuzu's finest moments, and the song certainly doesn't overstay its welcome in its 6 minute run. In fact, it leaves me asking for some more. (S.O.S. is obvious, while "Aman Hocam" means "O Teacher")

The second song is a regular pop song, with some adventurous keyboard arrangement. Manço tells the story of how his grandparents met ("Babaanne" meaning paternal grandmother). It was a hit when the album came out, and a video was produced for it (in fact, I remember seeing videos of at least 5 of the 9 songs. Manço was indeed into TV those days).

"Nerede" is a slow blues number, based on one of the themes used in the film "14 Numara" in 1985 (Manço composed the entire score for the movie, he also used some of the other themes for other songs later, such as 1989's "Darısı Başınıza," see my review of that album) I know this, because I watched the movie just to catch the Barış Manço themes :) I personally like the tunes, especially the way they were presented in the movie (I saw it in youtube just for this reason!) but the song is a bit cheesy.

"Düriye" is a pop-rock number, not unlike Süper Babaanne. The opening (and ongoing) bass and synth riff and the following funky guitar is interesting, but that's pretty much it. The lyrics are derived from traditional Turkish sayings, as was Manço's custom around the time. In fact, at least one such song is included in each album from 1979's "Yeni Bir Gün" to 1992's "Mega Manço"... With acoustic drums this song may have sounded better IMHO.

The opener of side B in vinyl and cassette editions is another redeeming quality, at least for me. The song has a simple but familiar Barış Manço melody, and the lyrics are again derived from Turkish proverbs. The title (second part of the famous saying by Suleiman the Magnificent, coupled with the actual first part) forms the refrain. The saying basically means "health is better than wealth". Literally: "There is nothing else as worthy as government (state) in the public; there is no such govenment as worthy as health in the whole world" ("devlet" in the saying might as well be a double entendre, meaning both state, govenment, and "luck" in other contexts). As I said, the melody, as well as the entire song is simple, not having intricate solos or changing time signatures, but I like it, probably because it reminds me of similar earlier Manço songs, such as "Kazma" from 1983's "Estağfurullah... Ne Haddimize!"

The next song "Unutamadım" (I couldn't forget you) is a pretty standard blues number. As much as I hate blues (except when Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, or certain krautrock bands perform it!) the electronic drums make it worse! Even when the album first came out, and when I bought the cassete in 1990, it was my least favorite in the album, and time didn't treat it well according to my taste... Still, it doesn't keep me from singing it with screaming voice in Barış Manço memorial concerts held every year on February 2 :) (that's because it's a fan favorite)

Here comes the shining jewel of the album: "İşte Hendek İşte Deve (15 Yıl Sonra)"... It may have been the single redeeming quality of the album, which would prompt me to give 3 stars. It is the reason why I wrote the lengthy explanation in the releases information section. I repeat here: "İşte Hendek İşte Deve" is the 4th recorded studio version of the 1971 single. Parenthetical sub title means "15 years later." Saxophone solos near the end are variations of the solo played in the track "Kervan," first recorded in 1974 and released in the 1980 cassette-only album "Disco Manço" -- 15 years later obviously refers to the first recording/release date and the date of this recording, although in the meantime there was another rendition, in 1980's "Disco Manço." The version here is extended by another stanza, continuing the story told in the original song ("I have the same song in my lips, years later, today"). This my favorite version of the song, maybe along with the radio edit recorded around the same time with the original single version, but not publicly released until 1989. This makes the version here the fourth recorded, but third released version. Regardless, this is my favorite of all those versions :) The funky bass+keyboard+guitar riff opens the song, followed by a short woodwind section playing the main theme. Vocals come in, as with the Moğollar versions, and continues until the first interlude. The interludes are played by woodwinds instead of the guitar in the single version and distorted organ in the (then-unreleased) radio version. Then comes the second (newly-written) stanza, again followed by the same interludes, but this time variations with saxophones are played (based on the solos from "Kervan" as I mentioned above). As short as it lasts (about 25 seconds) it is my favorite part of the song, and in turn, favorite part of the album; also favorite part in all versions of the song! Following the solo, the closing stanza (actually, semi-stanza) of the original song is sung, and the song fades out, without singing the refrain once more (unlike the 1971 originals, which closes with the refrain; but then again, those versions had one and a half stanzas, and by this point in this version the refrains are already sung twice); which possibly makes this version better. The next (and final) recorded/released version (in 1999's Mançoloji) is based on this 15th year version, having the extra stanza, but not the new solos and the original half-stanza ending. and the interludes, played with guitar and organ in the 1971 originals and saxes here, are played with saz (bağlama) in that version. On a related note, the interlude melody is based on a traditional folk tune from Elazığ region of Turkey. Moğollar made use of that melody in a very eclectic instrumental single track they released in 1970 (commonly considered as the very first Anatolian Rock record), and when they started working with Manço the next year, it's no surprise they came up with an enhanced version of the melody. Too bad their collaboration didn't last, at least for another year or so.

Coming back to the album: the next song, "Osman" is one of the two songs arranged by Garo Mafyan (the other being "Düriye") but no big difference is felt with the other songs, presumably since he already exerted his influence on the driving instrument of the album, the keyboards. My friend Münir Tireli (munimonde) who writes experimental/progressive music reviews (both for Turkish and international scenes) describes the song as "epic", but I don't think this has anything to do with its length (with a very average 5 minutes, it is only the fifth longest track in the album; although 5 minutes is quite long considering Manço songs in general, and the entire Turkish pop/rock scene for that matter). The song tells the story of a forbidden love, touching very slightly upon the social injustice in Turkey. Music wise, it's a slow, blues-based, keyboard driven melody, with very few interesting moments. As such, I'm not a big fan. And I'm not fond of the tragic ending of the story, either... Probably the only thing appealing with the song that it is composed by the long-standing Ekspres member Celal Güven, who also happened to contribute to the composition of an all-time Barış Manço classic: Dönence (beware: don't expect any similarities, as the majority of Dönence is actually Nejat Tekdal's work...)

The album wraps with another band member Bahadır Akkuzu's composition, "Al Beni." It's a romantic song with a string-synth background and acoustic guitar riff. For years it had been my most loathed song from the album, so much so that even when I was cassette-bound I took time to fast forward the tape to the end, and either flip it to hear it from the beginning or move on to the next cassette... If I the CD had come out those days (and was accessible like the budget price CDs I bought in mid-nineties) I would've definitely skipped the track (i.e. stopped CD, since it's the last track). But for some reason, the song began to grow on me in recent years, so much so that I find myself humming it! Still, I don't think it's of interest to progheads. Add to this the fact that I find even the worst song by Barış Manço "listenable" and never change station when I chance upon any Manço song on radio.

I really want to rate this album 3 stars, because as much as it marks the turning point in Manço's musical career, where everything afterwards went totally downhill, it is also remarkably better than the first album I reviewed (1989's Darısı Başınıza, which I rated 2 stars) so it does deserve at least half a star more. In a Barış Manço site I probably would have rated this three and a half, a tad better than non-essential for Manço fans (still, not indispensible, but not to be totally overlooked either). Here, when the progressiveness is concerned, the album as a whole is definitely non-prog, with some progressive/experimental touches here and there, prog-related at best. If the ratings were over ten, I probably would've rate it 5. Manço fans should include it in their collection, of course, especially after collecting all the good stuff (all albums from 1975 to 1985, with a couple of essential compilations from the same period and earlier). This album provides a not-so-worthy, but not-hideous-either coda to that period. To make another analogy with a well known prog (related) band, if you like all '80's Alan Parsons albums (but all of them; not just Eye in the Sky; well, with the possible exception of Vulture Culture...) there's a chance you might find this one enjoyable... But first, go through everything before this, at least 5 or so albums...

Bilek | 3/5 |

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