. issue II : i .

. artist : various .
. album : stand up, people: gypsy pop songs from tito’s yugoslavia .
. year : 2013 .
. label : vlax / asphalt tango .
. grade: a plus .


Interest in popular music from the Balkans, particularly that made by its Roma (gypsy) natives, has grown steadily over the last ten years; likewise, with the interest in vintage vinyl, crate-diggers are now fanned out across the globe in search of nuggets that most of us missed the first time out. Now these two trends collide head-on in this release of super-obscure recordings from ex-Yugoslavia; not surprisingly, the result is two great tastes that taste great together. Headline items here include some early sides by the future king and queen of Roma music, Saban Bajramovic (at his Sinatra-like best on “Dzemile”) and Esma Redzepova (“Durdevan, Durdevan” is beautiful: psych-influenced and melismatic). Muharem Serbezovski is popular in his home market of Macedonia but a revelation to me; his “Ramajana” is reminiscent of Turkish folk-rock, and “Ramu, Ramu” demonstrates the powerful pull of Bollywood on Roma music. “Mo Vogi Dukalla,” from Kosovo, is an amazing blend of traditional Eastern European and spaghetti western sounds. And don’t miss “Djelem, Djelem,” a garage rock version of the unofficial Romani national anthem. Brilliant – this is a truly inspired compilation.

by Bill Lupoletti