Infobox musical artist
Name = Smak
Img_capt = Smak as seen by an artist
Background = group_or_band
Years_active = 1971-1981
URL = http://www.smak.org.yu
Radomir Mihailović Točak Slobodan Stojanović Kepa Dejan Stojanović Kepa Jr. Dejan Najdanović Najda Milan Milosavljević Mikica Sale Marković
Boris Arandjelović Milan Đurđević Miki Petkovski Tibor Levay Vlada Samardzić
Serbian Cyrillic: Смак; trans. "End of the world") was a Serbian and former Yugoslav rock band, with strong jazz fusionand bluesundertones. It was formed by guitar player Radomir "Točak" Mihailović in Kragujevac, in 1971. The group was, with some breaks, active during the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s. Their music has always been rhythmically and harmonically advanced. Interesting points about their compositions include the abundant use of odd rhythms, vocal improvisations (scat singing), lengthy improvisations from all of the musicians, and uniquely-styled lyrics using mostly very short words due to the relative difficulty of using complex Serbian words in singing. Many of the lyrics were written by bohemian-minded poets and artists who were in friendly relations with the band.
Smak was formed in 1971 in
Kragujevac, SR Serbia(present-day Serbia), by guitar virtuoso Radomir Mihailović, nicknamed "Točak" ("the Wheel"). The first stable line-up, in late 1974, included Točak, drummer Slobodan Stojanović Kepa, bass guitarist Zoran Milanović, singer Boris Arandjelović, and keyboardist Laza Ristovski. They released 3 SP from 1974-1975, on which appeared their hit single "Ulazak u Harem" (Entrance to the Harem) and they appeared as an opening act for the Deep Purpleconcert in Belgrade1975. After a successful hit single and an excellent concert with Deep Purple they released their first LP called "Smak" 1975 and it was one of the best debut albums of all time in ex-Yugoslavia. It consisted of 5 tracks, including a 20 minutes long instrumental, "Biska 20", the dramatically good "Blues in the park", the inventive and infamous "Biska 2", "Dark Minor" (Mračni mol) and the Hendrix-styled "Pearls".
At the beginning of the next year they released DS (double SP) called "Satelit" which featured their hit song "Satelit" (Satellite) and one of band's best , 'Šumadijski Blues', along with two other: "Slikar sa Pikadilija" and "Čoveče ti si mlad". During that time they made a short movie called "Smak in New York", which featured their little tour in
USAas a promotion of DSP "Satelit".
In 1976 Točak released his first solo album "R. M. Točak", which became the best selling instrumental album in Yugoslavia that year, even though it consisted of only 6 long progressive rock compositions. The LP was also famous for its great graphical sleeve design. Their next single was out at the end of 1976 "Ljudi nije fer/El Dumo".
During 1977-78 Laza Ristovski, the organ and keyboard player, migrated to a more mainstream band,
Bijelo dugmeand was replaced by Miki Petkovski, who appeared on the LP " Crna Dama" 1977, one of the best selling albums in Yugoslavia, and then by Tibor Levayon keyboards, with him they made LPs "Stranice našeg vremena" 1978 and the English versions of these two albums "Black Lady" and "The Pages of our time" 1978,(also known as Dub in the middle, by Bellaphone records). Laza's transfer to Bijelo Dugme was so important, that the national television reported of that in their most watched news show. It was considered a trait, for many Smak-lovers.
In 1977 came their huge success: they were best group in Yugoslavia , Točak was the best guitar player, Kepa was best drummer, Laza was best keyboard player, the group had concerts all over former Yugoslavia. Their LP "Crna dama" was proclaimed as the vinyl of the year, and their title song "Crna dama" was the best single. A LP was recorded and produced in London, consisting of 7 tracks, with 4 hit singles: "Daire", "Crna Dama", "Alo", "Plava pesma". Interestingly, they were so good musicians, that they dared to challenge the biggest band in Yugoslavia (Bijelo Dugme) to a musical "fight", dedicating an extremely difficult composition to them. Točak sad that Dugme should call them (Smak) when they learn to play as good as them. And this was true, because Smak had the greatest musicians of that time, but other took the money and glory. Smak was loved, but less than 200.000 copies of their albums were sold.
Their next LP, "Stranice našeg vremena", was not so popular. Točak and the rest of the band had major disagreements about lyrics and the group split. Točak was replaced by an anonymous guitarist and the concerts were tragically bad. The music on this album however was performed virtuously, with songs ranging from hard rock tunes (Tenge-Tange) to 11 minutes progressive rock (Biska 18). The most successful was the remake of their hit tune "Ulazak u harem", this time played in fanatic tempo, in pure rock style. Dark Age of Smak came.
Dado Topić(ex-TIME, ex- Korni Grupa) collaborated with SMAK as producer and occasional guest vocalist on single "Na Balkanu" before the band broke-up in late 1981.
In 1980, shortly before split, they made LP "Rock Cirkus" which was destined to be one of the most selling albums but because of death of Yugoslavian president
Titoit had not gotten much popularity, mostly because of poor classic rock songs that sounded quite anachronistically in the punk-ska-new wave years. After that, they made 3 farewell concerts in Belgrade attended by more than 10,000 fans.
The original line-up gathered again in 1981 and with Dado Topić made LP "Zašto ne volim sneg", which was dedicated to Točak’s recently deceased brother. It supposed to be Točak's solo project, but their publisher (PGP RTB) considered it too risky and demanded it to be labeled as a "Smak" album. The most popular songs were the Macedonian folk tune "Zajdi, Zajdi" played as instrumental composition in a bluesy 12/8, and a fast hard rock song "Juzni voz", sung by almost anonymous singer Zoran Živanović Hose, with guitar solos in weird scale. After that they split again.
During 1983 Točak recorded a Serbian patriotic war song "Marš na Drinu" with David Moss and got extremely bad reputation in government press. During that days it was forbidden to play this kind of music. This particular song was also recorded by "The Shadows (Hank Marvin)", but never released in former Yugoslavia.
In 1986 with a new keyboardist
Milan Đurđevićthey came back and made LP "Smak 86", but after that split again. That is considered the groups weakest album, even it had few decent songs "Sava" and "Kad spavaš sam".
The fourth comeback of SMAK happened in 1992, with Ristovski again as a member, when they mostly played concerts in Serbia and issued a live album "odLIVEno"1992, featuring the best Serbian mouth-harp player
Pera Joe. In '92 and '93 Točak was promoting his second solo album and a soundtrack for the movie "Byzantine Blue" 1993, which won a prize for the best soundtrack "Christal prism awards".
Finally, in 1995 Smak re-appeared again, this time along with Točak and Stojanović they added the following younger musicians:
Dejan Stojanovic Kepa Jr.(second drum kit), Dejan Najdanovic Najda(vocals), Vlada Samardzic(bass) and Milan Milosavljević Mikica(guitar). The idea behind this new line-up was to create a much bigger and modern sound with two down-tuned guitars (D-tuning) and two very loud drummers.
In this shape, Smak released an album called "Bioskop Fox" (Cinema Fox). After a 4 year collaboration, Vlada Samardžić (bass) left SMAK, out of necessity, to attend the
Berklee College of Music, and was replaced by Sale Marković, a natural talent who has never had any formal tuition, but nevertheless proved to be a great cohesive force in the band due to his aggressive style. With Sale they recorded the following albums: "Live without audience" 1998, (literally, a live performance attended only by the tone technician, in a big, empty cinema) "Egregor" 1999, (their least popular album ever, featuring alternate tunings, polyrhythmic and odd-meter experiments and, most importantly, no lyrics at all, except for one song - the vocalist used scat techniques instead) "Live 3. mart" 2000. and "Kragujevac klub 'La Cinema'" in 2000.
In 2001. group split again, due to Točak's disappointment with the status of musicians in (FR)Yugoslavia.
Smak was celebrated for Točak's virtuosity in guitar playing, inspired and modeled primarily after
Jimi Hendrixand Jimmy Page, but with a unique expressive warmth and an unprecedented, sophisticated way of incorporating Serbian folk motifs into his compositions and improvisations.
The band also made interesting and powerful, if not always successful, attempts of fusing hard rock and jazz (in the vein of
Mahavishnu Orchestraand other super-influential fusion bands from the 70's), prog-rock and blues, with Arandjelović's falsetto vocal often used as a melodic instrument, rather than just a vessel to carry the lyrics. "Ulazak u harem", a folk-inspired instrumental, originally composed by Jaraković Dragoljub-Jarak, one of Točak's first guitar teachers, issued as a hit-single in 1975, showcased Točak as the definitive guitar-hero and legend of the ex-Yugoslavian 1970s music scene, while the albums "Crna dama" ("Black Lady", 1977.) and "Stranice naseg vremena" ("The Pages of Our Time", 1978.) were highly celebrated among prog fans and were even released in English versions aimed at the international market.
Their reunion, from the second half of the 1980s onward, turned the musical direction of the band towards a more bland mainstream rock style, abandoning any prog elements, but after re-appearing in 1994. SMAK turned their musical attention back to hard rock with strong jazz and prog leanings. Točak has, in the meantime, fully matured as a guitarist on a never-ending quest for perfection, and spent more than 20 years providing professional guitar tuition to a huge number of students in the ex-Yugoslavian territory. He achieved an unparalleled breakthrough in jazz-guitar playing, evidenced, for example, in his masterclass held in
Zagreb, Croatia, on 10.22.2002; but in many television interviews of this period, he cited Rage Against the Machineand Tool, and more recently, A Perfect Circleas the greatest rock bands of the modern age, and their musical influence is easily noticed in SMAK's latest endeavor, titled "Egregor".
There have also been many unofficial Live albums (Live 1992, Live in Zupa '98...) and unreleased songs (Biska, Na Drinu, StaKapKara, Kepo, Novi Novi Dan, Swap, Egregor...), some of which included bassist
Lola Andrijićof the R. M. Točakband, who played with Smak at some concerts in 1974.
ANd here are those vinyls with ID numbers and publisher details
7" Smak Ulazak u harem / Sto ptica Suzy sp1081
7" Smak Ulazak u harem / Epitaf RTVLJ sp10061
7" Smak Crna dama / Plava pesma RTB s51794
7" Smak Alo / Daire RTB 7" Smak Na Balkanu / Gore dole RTB s51855
7" Smak Rock cirkus / Hirosima RTB 1120247 7" Smak Zivim ja / Biska 16 RTB s51639 7" Smak Ljudi nije fer / El dumo RTVLJ sp10117 2x7" Smak Satelit / Sumadijski blues / Covece ti si mlad / Slikar sa Pikadilija RTVLJ sp10091 MLP Smak Nevidljive terazije RTB ms7001 LP Smak Smak RTVLJ lp1079 LP Smak Crna dama RTB lp555307 LP Smak Stranice naseg vremena RTB lp555336 LP Smak Rok cirkus RTB lp2320010 LP Smak Zasto ne volim sneg RTB LP Smak Ulazak u harem / Plava pesma RTVLJ ld0421 LP Smak 86 RTB lp2122278 LP Smak Black Lady Bellaphon LP Smak Retrospektiva RTB
LP SMak The Pages of our time Sorabia disk
MLP Tocak M.R. Mars na Drinu RTB
LP Tocak M.R. Tocak RTVLJ lp1152
* [http://www.smak.org.yu Official site]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.