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Drago Mlinarec - Grupa 220: Nasi Dani CD (album) cover


Drago Mlinarec


Prog Folk

4.00 | 4 ratings

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4 stars Debut album of Zagreb-based GRUPA 220 "Nasi dani" (eng. Our Days) belongs to the category of records about which one could say: "Even if it were released as an empty piece of vinyl without a sound, it would have still been historically important"! It was the first LP record released in Yugoslavia (late 1968) by a domestic label (Jugoton) and by a Yugoslav rock band (GRUPA 220), which at the time were called "vocal-instrumental combos" (local abbr. "VIS") or "beat ensembles" playing music influenced by the British invasion/rock'n'roll sound of the mid-1960s.

But "Nasi dani" was and still remains more than that. Unlike the fashion of the day when Yugoslav bands mostly played covers of international hits (in broken English or in translated versions) or instrumental surf rock of the Shadows, Drago Mlinarec and his group engaged in writing their own songs and thus manufacturing the first authentic, domestic rock hits in the local language like "Osmijeh" (eng. Smile) from 1967. This practice was groundbreaking and pioneering effort in ex-Yugoslavia and perhaps only INDEXI could match GRUPA 220 in that manner. Even politically significant for the period of Titoist "real socialism", this action showed to the Yugoslav establishment that "pop music" (as it was called those days) was not only an "American imperialist import" but also a global musical expression that could nicely fit into local cultures and produce quality.

Musically, this album sounds little bit like famous transitional albums of the BEATLES ("Rubber Soul", "Revolver") or Bob Dylan ("Highway 61", "Blonde on Blonde") with tiny elements of psychedelia impregnated in the songs, particularly the eerie Alan Price- like organ and wah-wahed guitar licks. The title track bookending the album invokes the quasi-classical organ melodies of PROCOL HARUM, while the most "progressive" is certainly 6-minute "Negdje postoji netko" (eng. There is Someone Somewhere) with a loose, hypnotic and jazzy arrangement. Strong eastern-tinged percussions and recorder solo played by Branimir Zivković reminded rock critic Zlatko Gall of some early TRAFFIC works when he wrote liner notes for 2000 CD reissue. This song would re-surface later on the namesake solo album by Mlinarec in 1977. The second songwriter in the band, guitarist/vocalist Vojko Sabolović, was more inclined towards straight pop melodies and danceable hits so three of his tracks somehow do not seem to merge well with Mlinarec's cynical and introspective "lonesome wolf" Dylanesque lyrics such as "Starac" (eng. The Old Man) and "Besciljni dani" (eng. Aimless Days).

Overall, do not expect much in terms of production, instrumental prowess or mammoth and complex song structures - it is too early for that! Remember, we are talking about 1968 and the closest we can relate this LP to prog rock is to say it might fit into the proto-prog category. But, the progress here lies in the form and in the historical/regional context, not in the vinyl grooves. This album represents the birthplace of Yugoslav (and hence Bosnian/Croatian/Macedonian/Montenegrin/Serbian/Slovene) long- playing discography of rock music and of many of its later subdivisions including progressive rock.


P.A. RATING: 4/5

Seyo | 4/5 |


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