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Radomir Mihajlovic - R. M. Tocak CD (album) cover

R. M. TOCAK

Radomir Mihajlovic

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.57 | 13 ratings

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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

Seyo | 3/5 |

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