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Drago Mlinarec - Tako Lako CD (album) cover


Drago Mlinarec


Prog Folk

4.00 | 3 ratings

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4 stars Mlinarec's previous album "Sve je u redu" failed to hit the charts and was also dismissed by the press. Therefore, Mlinarec decided to change direction a bit. Instead of Neven Franges and his group, for the new album he established collaboration with Croatian- born Swedish resident, Tihomir Tinnie Varga, who was a musician himself and owner of a recording studio in Sweden. This new collaboration was to last until the final studio album "Pomaknuto" in 1983, when Mlinarec decided to retire from the music scene. During this period, a legion of Yugoslavian and Swedish studio musicians participated on his albums.

The sixth studio album, recorded and released in 1979, was titled "Tako lako" (So Easy). It marked stylistic change from largely acoustic, laid-back, spacey folk-rock ballads towards straightforward, electrified and energetic rock'n'roll. It is obvious that the then New Wave sounds brought "fresh blood" and new ideas to the legions of classic (prog) rockers, and Mlinarec was clever enough to take it as a challenge. And he succeeded! Influences on "Tako lako" are varied - American folk-rock and southern rock, British roots revival and pub-rock, and psychedelic folk ballads.

The title track is a hot-blooded rocker, filled with guitar riffs and strong rhythm sections, much in the style of American southern rock a la ALLMAN BROS or LYNYRD SKYNYRD. "Stranac" (The Stranger) was a big hit with extremely nice and catchy chorus, semi-acoustic and semi-electric mainstream rock piece. The word "mainstream" here denotes that it is not "prog", not that it's too AOR. There are slices of "Caribbean" percussion. Instrumental "Jezera" (The Lakes) brings back the acoustic side of Mlinarec, with nice duet of 12-strings and Dobro guitars (and sort of what sounds like mandolins) which invoke Ry Cooder's soundtracks a little bit (however, this is 1979!). Harmonica adds a bit of "Western movies" atmosphere.

Then a storm comes in - a menacing and stomping bass rhythm and guitars, with high pitch percussion effects - "Ovce" (Sheep)! "The sheep don't care about wolves and winter problems as long as there is enough long grass to eat..." I am not saying this was a deliberate allegory on the peak moment of the Yugoslavian "the most humane" and most developed self-governing socialist system in the world under Tito leadership (he died the following year), but one wonders... It is definitely a cynical commentary on the society. And given the furious electric guitar solo, it is not the only connection with PINK FLOYD's "Animals"! "Ovce" is definite masterpiece of this album and one of the strongest musical and lyrical works of Drago Mlinarec. Unfortunately, or maybe just because of that fact, it remained obscure and unknown in the Yugo scene.

"Prijatelj" (My Friend) mixes THE ROLLING STONES guitar riffs with New Wave/Ska rhythm guitar chords, with additional 1950s style rockabilly backing vocals and more Caribbean percussion. A song made perfect for the parties, but pales with repeated listening. "Vjetar s juga" (Southern Wind) is a slower track with acoustic guitars, melodic bass and drums hit with brushes. Again we feel typical American sound of folk/country/rock - I can sense the presence of GRATEFUL DEAD's "American Beauty" sound, which is great.

"San" (The Dream) is another "progressive" highlight of the album. It is a slow ballad in a familiar Mlinarec style, including synthesisers, wonderful electric guitar solo moments and changes of tempo. The chorus is very atmospheric and gives a wide-space sensation with some folksy melodic solos. This song was composed back in 1969 when Mlinarec served the army in Rijeka. For this occasion a female friend spoke a part of the lyrics in Swedish. "Nostalgija" (Nostalgia) has a sort of honky-tonk jazz/blues rhythm performed mainly with acoustic instruments. Check excellent solo on acoustic guitar!

Now, on the strict prog side only two or three songs fit into that category. But don't be so narrow-minded; "Tako lako" is excellent rock album first and foremost. It is diverse in style and all the tracks (well, except maybe "Prijatelj") are very well crafted and performed. "Ovce" alone would qualify this album for a highly recommended listening.

Seyo | 4/5 |


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