Article: Global Digging – Yugo Rock (+Mix)
Digging for that elusive unheard record can sometimes mean a trip outside of your home-shores, where a gold-mine of amazing, untapped records await you. This is to be the first of many articles/mixes exploring the cool retro beats of countries all over the world. First
Digging for that elusive unheard record can sometimes mean a trip outside of your home-shores, where a gold-mine of amazing, untapped records await you. This is to be the first of many articles/mixes exploring the cool retro beats of countries all over the world. First stop, the sunny shores of the Balkans in the 1970s!
‘Yugo-rock’ may not be the most accurate term musically or politically, but refers to the prog-rock & jazz-rock in and around the Balkan region from the 1960s through to the 1980s, grouping all of the countries in the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina), as well as Albania. The music is uniquely for its flair for melodic bass lines, madly complex and odd-time percussion, avante-garde compositions & arrangements, and the subtle infusion of Balkan-folk music and rhythms.
Compared to other Communist nations at the time, Yugoslavia had a more open policy regarding music, arts and culture from outside nations. The region’s musical development was sparked by the energy of 1960s beat music, though the influence of funk and soul in this developmental period is minimal, since except for a few re-pressings of hit records, the style failed to find an audience. The few local acts not inspired heavily by the likes of Led Zeppelin lent more towards prog-rock acts such as Return to Forever, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, an influence which would dominate the direction of Yugo art-bands for nearly a decade.
What followed was a brief, yet highly energetic period of musical innovation in the mid to late 1970s, characterised by tight instrumentation, melody-driven rock grooves, and lavish prog-rock compositions.
As the late 70s made way for a thriving Punk and New Wave scene, as well as the New Romantics, the period of immaculate musicianship of the prog-rock and jazz-rock artists drew to a quick close. While many of the artists either faded to obscurity, some, (especially those involved in jazz) would find lasting success in touring. However, one who will remain nameless recently went on to sell his soul to (ugh…) Eurovision.
The mix below, prepared by yours truly, covers the most productive and interesting period of Jugo Rock, spanning the genres of 60s Beat, Prog-rock, Jazz-rock, & Jazz Grooves and Psychadelic beats. I hope you find something new. Happy digging!