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Articles Home » 1978 Articles » Smak - 1978 The Black Lady
Smak - 1978 The Black Lady

ALBUM: The Black Lady
LABEL: Fantasy
SERIAL: F-9559
YEAR: 1978


LINEUP: Boris Arandjelovic - vocals * Radomir Mihajlowic-Tocak - guitars * Miodrag Petkovski-Miki - keyboards * Zoran Milanovic - bass * Slobodan Stojanovic-Kepa - drums

Additional Musicians: 'The Harmonium Quartet' (Pat Nalling, John Knight - violins * Brian Mack - viola * Ben Kennard - cello) * Morris Pert - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Black Lady * 02 Matter Of Love * 03 Domestic Lesson * 04 Hello * 05 Suffer * 06 Tambourine * 07 Here Alone (Sad Once More)

Smak were a Serbian progressive rock band plying their trade in what was formerly known as Yugoslavia. The fall of the Soviet Union created a political domino effect and yet unlike other countries formally under Russian rule, Yugoslavia was torn apart by age-old ethnic and religious issues and it wasn't pretty, yet prior to the country's bloody break-up there was an impressive arts scene including a rather smallish group of progressive bands. Tako released two indispensable symphonic albums, the Macedonian band Leb i Sol's first record is a genuine Eastern bloc classic and Mothers Of Invention influenced crazies Buldozer are just a few of Yugoprog's top names who cranked out quality stuff although it appears Smak had the biggest commercial success. Formed in 1971, Smak which means 'End Of The World' in Serbian were like any other rock band, playing clubs and schools while developing a loyal audience with their first album released in 1975. Festival and concert dates with Omega and Deep Purple as well as a run of shows in East Germany solidified their status as Yugoslavia's premier prog band.

The Songs
With newfound success Smak recorded their second album 'Crna Dama' in the UK in two versions, one in their native Serbian and the other in English which was released with the translated title 'The Black Lady'. Signed to Bellophon in Germany and Fantasy in the States, Smak's sound draws favorable comparisons to 'Down To Earth' period Nektar, Lucifer's Friend and Deep Purple although nothing is particularly outstanding. Kicking off before the speakers warm up, the Purple-ish title track is hard hitting but in the end standard Balkan rock. Much more to my liking is the spacious 'Masters Of Love' -a cool psychy Nektar space rocker with soaring guitar although why an overwrought and so wrongly placed drum solo was included on 'Domestic Lessons' we'll never know. The more 'progressive' material is saved for the b-side with the chugalugging classicism and wordless vocals of 'Hello' lifting from primo Focus while the fusion-like 'Suffer' gets my vote for the albums best song. 'Here Alone (Sad Once More)' closes out the album with more Nektar styled goodness although when all is said and done between the Yugo and U.S. platters, I wonder if something was lost in translation.

In Summary
Obviously I've never bothered with anything else from Smak, but another English language LP 'Pages Of Our Time - Dub In The Middle' was released in Germany although according to their biography musical differences and line-up changes plagued the band and with each album selling less than the previous, Smak called it a day in 1981. Off and on reformations and more studio albums followed well into the 1990's, but I can't imagine anyone outside Serbia took an interest.

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