Riblja Čorba performing in Portorož in 2010
|Genres||Rock, hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal|
|Years active||1978 – present|
|Labels||PGP-RTB, Jugoton, Samy, WIT, Hi-Fi Centar, M Factory, City Records, PGP-RTS, RTV Stara Pazova, Fidbox|
|Associated acts||Zajedno, Suncokret‚ Rani Mraz, SOS, Warriors, Pop Mašina, Dah, Opus, Rok Mašina, Siluete, Električni Orgazam, Bajaga i Instruktori, Bezobrazno Zeleno, Oliver Mandić, Babe, Indijanci, Van Gogh|
|Past members||Rajko Kojić
Formed in 1978, the band reached their peak of popularity in the 1980s, but it declined in the 1990s, partly due to controversial political attitudes of the band's leader Bora Đorđević. Known for their provocative political- and social-related lyrics written by Đorđević, Riblja Čorba was one of the most notable acts of the former Yugoslav rock scene.
- 1 Band history
- 1.1 1970s: The beginnings and rise to fame
- 1.2 Early 1980s: Nationwide popularity, Zagreb Ice Hall incident, political scandals
- 1.3 Mid 1980s: The crisis and decline in popularity, lineup change and comeback
- 1.4 Late 1980s: New successes and political scandals
- 1.5 1990s: Riblja Čorba during war years and Milošević's regime
- 1.6 2000s
- 1.7 2010s
- 2 Legacy
- 3 Members
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 External links
1970s: The beginnings and rise to fame
Riblja Čorba leader, Bora Đorđević, started performing and composing as a teenager. In his early bands he usually sang and played rhythm guitar. One of them, Poslednji Ostatak Romantičnog Sveta (The Last Remaining of the Romantic World) featured Radomir Mihajlović "Točak", who would later become the leader of Smak, on guitar. In the early 1970s, he played in Belgrade's Atelje 212 production of Jesus Christ Superstar and started his studies of theatre organization on the Belgrade Faculty of Dramatic Arts. At the same time, he formed the acoustic rock band Zajedno (Together), with which he recorded two 7" singles, the single "Vizija" ("Vision") bringing them certain media attention, and started contributing to Radio Belgrade show Veče uz radio (Evening by the Radio) and music magazine Džuboks, usually with reports on acoustic rock scene. In 1975, he left Zajedno, forming the acoustic band Suncokret, which soon gained media attention and popularity with their humorous folk rock-oriented songs. Đorđević spent three years in Suncokret, releasing the album Moje bube (My Bugs) and five 7" singles with the band. He decided to leave Suncokret in 1978, after the band refused to perform his new song, "Lutka sa naslovne strane" ("Doll from the Front Cover"), a ballad about a fame-hungry model, claiming the song does not fit into the band's style. Another Suncokret member, Biljana Krstić, decided to leave the band with Đorđević, and the two joined the pop rock band Rani Mraz, led by Đorđe Balašević. Đorđević, Balašević, Krstić and Verica Todorović would become the most famous Rani Mraz lineup. They released two 7" singles, one of the featuring the generation anthem "Računajte na nas" ("You Can Count on Us"). However, this lineup of the band lasted for only month and a half. In July 1978, Đorđević decided to leave the band.
Đorđević decided to start cooperating with the members of the band SOS. The band, formed in 1972 by Miroslav "Miša" Aleksić (bass guitar), Dragan Štulović "Štuks" (guitar) and Steva Stevanović (drums), previously released three 7" singles and performed as Srđan Marjanović's backing band, but did not manage to gain larger attention. The band's debut album, Prvi poziv (First Call), which featured Đorđević as guest vocalist, was refused by all major record labels. In the summer of 1978, the band consisted of Aleksić, Miroslav "Vicko" Milatović (drums) and Radislav "Rajko" Kojić (guitar). Đorđević and SOS members made an agreement to form the band on August 15, 1978 in the kafana Šumatovac in Belgrade. The four intended to name the band Bora i Ratnici (Bora and the Warriors), Popokatepetl (Popocatépetl) or Riblja Čorba (Fish Stew, at the time the Belgrade slang for menstruation), but as the magazine Radio TV revija published a poster of the band with the name Riblja Čorba, the band decided to continue performing under that name.
Riblja Čorba had its first concert in Elemir on September 8, 1978. In the first part of the concert, Aleksić, Kojić and Milatović performed Humble Pie, ZZ Top, Johnny Winter and Deep Purple covers, and in the second part they were joined by Đorđević, with whom they performed their songs and The Rolling Stones and Joe Cocker covers. In November, Radio Belgrade show Veče uz radio celebrated its anniversary with a large concert in Subotica Sports Hall. Riblja Čorba appeared on the concert playing only two songs but managed to win the audience's attention. They gained new fans at a fund raising concert in Sarajevo and the 1978 BOOM Festival held in Novi Sad. On December 22, they released their first single, "Lutka sa naslovne strane", which became an immediate hit. The song featured jazz trumpeter Stjepko Gut on piano.
After the single release, Đorđević decided to leave acoustic guitar and dedicate himself to singing, and the members of the band considered adding a keyboardist to the lineup, but eventually decided to hire a rhythm guitarist. The band's new member became Momčilo Bajagić, at the time a high school student. He was recommended by Kojić, who previously played with Bajagić in the band Glogov Kolac (Wooden Stake). This lineup held its first concert on January 7, 1979 in Jarkovac; in the first part of the concert the band performed covers, and in the second part they performed their own songs, with Bajagić playing in the second part only. On February 28, they held a long promoted concert in Belgrade's Youth Center, which was the band's first concert in Belgrade. Minka Kamberović's ballerinas took part in the concert, and while the band performed "Lutka sa naslovne strane" Đorđević broke a fashion doll. During that concert, Riblja Čorba played most of the songs which would be released on their first album. At the beginning of March, the band held several concerts in Macedonia, gaining new fans. Bajagić, still a high school student, managed to skip school by telling his teachers that he will be absent due to appendectomy. However, he got into trouble after one of the teachers saw a report on the tour in Politikin Zabavnik magazine, but ended up without suffering serious consequences. When, on the band's concert in Dolovo, Aleksić fell from the stage and broke his leg, he was replaced by Miroslav Cvetković (who would later become a member of Bajagić's band Bajaga i Instruktori) for the band's concerts in Sandžak. On these concerts, Cvetković also sang in the covers of foreign hits. On March 19, 1979, Riblja Čorba released their second single with the songs "Rock 'n' Roll za kućni savet" ("Rock 'n' Roll for Residents' Committee") and "Valentino iz restorana" ("Restaurant Valentino"). The lyrics for "Valentino iz restorana", with which the band appeared at the Opatija Festival, were co-written by Đorđević and Marina Tucaković, which was the only time in the history of the band that the author of the lyrics was someone outside the band.
Riblja Čorba spent the summer in Makarska, where they practiced for the upcoming promotion of their debut album. The concert was held on September 1 on Belgrade's Tašmajdan Stadium. Although the album was at the time still unreleased, the stadium was sold out, thanks to large media attention and low ticket prices. Bulevar and Formula 4 performed as the opening bands. Riblja Čorba played all the songs which would be released on their debut album, the songs released on their 7" singles, and the covers of Joe Cocker's version of "The Letter" and The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash". A huge surprise for the band members and the media was the fact that the audience knew all the lyrics; it was later revealed that the fans were recording Đorđević's radio interviews, during which parts of the songs were broadcast. This was the concert on which Đorđević, thanks to his stage charisma, got his concert nickname Bora Majstor (Bora the Master). Meri Cakić's "anti-ballet" group Ribetine also performed at the concert (Meri Cakić, who appeared on the concert wearing garter belts, has, by some, inspired Đorđević to write "Lutka sa naslovne strane", although he denied the claims). Several days later, Đorđević went to Doboj and Kojić went to Sarajevo, to serve in the Yugoslav People's Army. On November 28, the band, without Đorđević, performed in Sarajevo. Kojić was on his evening leave and performed wearing a uniform. Aleksić was on vocals, but, as he did not know all the lyrics, the audience was the one who sang most of the songs. This was the only time in Riblja Čorba's career when the band performed without Đorđević. Soon after, Aleksić went to Koprivnica to serve in the army, so the band's debut album was released during the group's hiatus.
Riblja Čorba's debut album, Kost u grlu (Bone in the Throat), recorded during the summer of 1979 and produced by Enco Lesić, was released in September 1979. The album cover was designed by the cartoonist and a former Porodična Manufaktura Crnog Hleba member Jugoslav Vlahović, who would later design covers for all of Riblja Čorba albums released until the present day, except Osmi nervni slom and Koza nostra covers. The track "Još jedan šugav dan" ("Another Lousy Day") was originally titled "Još jedan usran dan" ("Another Shitty Day"), but Đorđević was persuaded by PGP-RTB editors to change the lyrics prior to recording. The song "Mirno spavaj" ("Sleep Tight") was written by Đorđević and Suncokret guitarist Nenad Božić during Đorđević's days in Suncokret, and was previously recorded for the SOS' Prvi poziv. PGP-RTB editors believed that the verse "Popij svoje sedative" ("Take your sedatives") from "Mirno spavaj" might have reminded of drug abuse, and the initial number of copies of the album, with the version of the song containing this verse, were soon retrieved from the stores; about 100 of the albums with the original versions of the songs were sold, and are today considered a rarity. The album, featuring an edited version of "Mirno spavaj", soon reappeared in the stores. It was well received by fans and critics alike, mostly due to Đorđević's social-related lyrics. It brought a large number of hits: "Zvezda potkrovlja i suterena" ("Star of Attics and Basements"), "Egoista" ("Egoist"), "Ja sam još ona ista budala" ("I'm Still the Same Old Fool"), and "Ostani đubre do kraja" ("Remain Scum to the End"). Kost u grlu was sold in about 120,000 copies. Đorđević was proclaimed the Rock Musician of the Year by most of the music magazines, and Riblja Čorba's hard rock sound with blues elements was not perceived as archaic, although the age of New Wave in Yugoslavia was about to begin.
Early 1980s: Nationwide popularity, Zagreb Ice Hall incident, political scandals
At the end of July 1980, Đorđević and Kojić, both still serving the army, appeared in Belgrade to record the song "Nazad u veliki prljavi grad" ("Back to the Big Dirty City") with Bajagić and Milatović. Đorđević was on a leave, and Kojić smuggled himself out of Sarajevo barracks. As Aleksić did not manage to get a leave, bass guitar on the song was played by Bajagić. After his return to Sarajevo, Kojić was sent to army jail for two weeks; although he managed to smuggle himself back into the barracks, his superior saw a photograph of the band sitting in Šumatovac in a newspaper. "Nazad u veliki prljavi grad", recorded in one night, was released as a single on September 1, 1980. The B-side featured the original, uncensored version of "Mirno spavaj". After Đorđević and Aleksić returned from the army, the band held their comeback concert in Dadov Theater. They were announced as Zlatni Valovi Dunava (The Golden Waves of Danube), a lounge band which has been trying to sign a record contract for seven years. On the concert, the band performed new songs, written by Đorđević during his army service. In December, they were joined by Kojić, and on December 31 and January 1, they held two concerts with the hard rock band Atomsko Sklonište (Atomic Shelter). The concerts were held in Belgrade's Pionir Hall and were advertised as 'Atomska Čorba' (Atomic Stew).
In February 1981, Riblja Čorba released its second album, Pokvarena mašta i prljave strasti (Perverted Imagination and Sordid Passions). The album was produced by Enco Lesić, who also played keyboards on the album recording and composed the song "Rekla je" ("She Said"). The songs "Nemoj, srećo, nemoj danas" ("Don't, Honey, Not Today"), "Dva dinara, druže" ("Two Dinars, Comrade") and "Evo ti za taksi" ("Here's Some for the Cab") were composed by Bajagić; while in the army, Đorđević sent Bajagić the songs' lyrics, and was surprised to discover, upon his return, that Bajagić had wrote music on the lyrics. The original album cover was supposed to display a photograph of naked Mrs. Adela, an eighty-year-old model at the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts. However, shortly before the album was released, Doživjeti stotu by Bijelo Dugme appeared, with a naked old woman on the three-piece cover, so the Pokvarena mašta i prljave strasti cover ended up featuring the writer Miloš Jovančević reading a porn magazine. The album brought a large number of hits: "Ostaću slobodan" ("I'll Stay Free"), "Lak muškarac" ("Easy Man"), "Evo ti za taksi", ballads "Neke su žene pratile vojnike" ("Some Women Escorted Soldiers"), "Nemoj srećo, nemoj danas" , "Dva dinara druže" ("Two Dinars, Comrade"), and "Rekla je" ("She Said"). By the end of 1981, the album was sold in more than 200,000 copies.
The band promoted the album on a large Yugoslav tour, with 59 concerts. The beginning of the tour featured two concerts in Belgrade's Pionir Hall, with about 5,000 spectators per concert. The first concert was marked by an incident: the Hall's manager refused to turn of the lights in the Hall, fearing that the audience could "demolish the parquetry". The opening band, Papatra (which featured Miroslav Cvetković), performed under the lights switched on, but Đorđević refused to go out on the stage until the light are turned off. The band's and the Hall's management's efforts to reach an agreement lasted for about an hour, and there was a danger from the angry audience's reactions, but, evenutally, the management was persuaded to turn the lights off. At the end of June, they headlined a concert in Zagreb, which was organized by Vjesnik and featured the most popular Yugoslav bands. At that time, Aleksić got married and was absent from the band, so, for several concerts, he was once again replaced by Cvetković. During the tour, the band perofrmed in Belgrade once again, on Kalemegdan. The concert featured guest appearance by Gillan bass guitarist John McCoy, who would produce the band's following album, on the cover of ZZ Top song "Tush". The concert featured about 10,000 spectators, and was, despite the fact that some of them got injured, praised by the press.
In November, the band released their third studio album, Mrtva priroda (Still Life), produced by McCoy. Mrtva priroda was the first album which featured Bajagić's lyrics, in the song "Ja sam se ložio na tebe" ("I Was Hot for You"). It also brought Riblja Čorba's first openly political song, "Na zapadu ništa novo" ("All Quiet on the Western Front"). The album's main hits were "Volim, volim, volim, volim žene" ("I Love, Love, Love, Love Women"), "Pekar, lekar, apotekar" ("Baker, Doctor, Pharmacist"), "Ne veruj ženi koja puši Drinu bez filtera (Ostavi je)" ("Don't Trust a Woman that Smokes Non-Filter Drina (Leave Her)"), "Na zapadu ništa novo", "Neću da ispadnem životinja" ("I Don't Want to Be an Animal"). During the first week after its release, the album was sold in more than 100,000 copies, becoming the fastest-selling Yugoslav album, with the final number of copies sold being bigger than 450,000. Mrtva priroda confirmed the band's status as the most popular Yugoslav band. New Musical Express wrote about the band, stating that Riblja Čorba is "the most popular thing in Yugoslavia after Tito".
In January 1982, with a concert in Čačak, Riblja Čorba started their Yugoslav tour. The tour's slogan was "Ko preživi - pričaće" (Those Who Survive Will Live to Tell the Tale), which would prove to be a very unfortunate title. For the band's concert in Zagreb Ice Hall, held on February 8, an initial number of 10,500 tickets was sold out, and the organizers decided to put an additional number of 4,500 tickets to sale. As only two exit doors were open, in the rush at the end of the concert a fourteen-year old girl Željka Marković was trampled, dying of injuries. Part of the press publicly attacked Bora Đorđević, Riblja Čorba and rock music in general. On the rest of the tour, the organizers reduced the number of tickets, and some of the concerts were cancelled, as the organizers feared of new problems.
This was also the time of the first political scandal that followed Riblja Čorba. At the beginning of February, Ilustrovana Politika magazine published a letter written by a teenager, who wrote about political suitability of Đorđević and Riblja Čorba. This caused SUBNOR (Union of Associations of Fighters in the War of Liberation) of Karpoš to demand Mrtva priroda to be banned because of the lyrics "Za ideale ginu budale" ("Fools get killed for ideals") and "Kreteni dižu bune i ginu" ("Jerks start uprisings and get killed") from the song "Na zapadu ništa novo". They were soon joined in their demands by SUBNORs of Sarajevo and Bezdan, as well as by League of Communist Youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The scandal saw large covering in the media, which had the effect on the concerts. The band had to cut short their concert in Celje, because the firemen appointed as security were aggressive towards the audience. The concert in Sarajevo was held only after Đorđević wrote explanations for the lyrics of the songs the band would perform and signed a statement that he would sing the song "Na zapadu ništa novo" on his own risk. The concert in Tuzla was canceled because, as the organizers stated, "order can not be guaranteed on a concert of a group actions of which are not in accordance with socialist morale". The scandal quieted down after Milo Dimitrijevski, the president of SUBNOR of Yugoslavia, publicly defended the band.
Riblja Čorba ended the tour in April 1982, with four concerts in Belgrade's Pionir Hall. The concerts were held a month later than initially planned, as organizers hesitated due to Zagreb tragedy, fearing they might not be able to provide adequate security. The first of the concerts was not well visited, but the following three were, with a final number of tickets sold for the concerts being about 20,000. On the last of the concerts, held on April 11, the band recorded their first live album, U ime naroda (In the Name of the People), the title alluding to the political scandal around "Na zapadu ništa novo". On the Youth Day, the band was unexpectedly awarded with May Award by the Belgrade Committee of the League of Socialist Youth, with an explanation that the band "sings about the life and the problems of young people" and that "it has become a symbol of the large part of the youth". U ime naroda was released in July, selling 120,000 copies and becoming the best selling Yugoslav live album until then. Several days after the album release, Riblja Čorba, alongside Radomir Mihajlović "Točak", Aki Rahimovski and Električni Orgazam, performed on a large concert on the Square of Marx and Engels in Belgrade, organized as a sign of support for the Palestinian people.
The band's following album, Buvlja pijaca (Flea Market), was released at the end of 1982. The producer was once again John McCoy, and the album was mixed in London. The album featured Kornelije Kovač as guest keyboardist. It featured softer sound than previous Riblja Čorba albums, with some of the songs featuring woodwind and bowed string instruments. The song "Baby, Baby, I Don't Wanna Cry" was the first Riblja Čorba song written entirely by Bajagić. Bajagić originally wrote the song for Slađana Milošević, but Đorđević insisted that the song should be recorded by Riblja Čorba. Buvlja pijaca brought a large number of successful songs: ironic love songs "Draga ne budi peder" ("Darling, Don't be a Faggot"), "U dva će čistači odneti đubre" ("At Two Garbage Collectors Will Collect the Trash"), "Dobro jutro" ("Good Morning"), and political songs "Ja ratujem sam" ("I'm Waging War Alone"), "Pravila, pravila" ("Rules, Rules"), "Kako je lepo biti glup" ("How Nice It Is to be Stupid"), "Slušaj, sine, obriši sline" ("Listen Son, Wipe Your Nose"). However, the final number of copies sold was 250,000, which was less than expected by the band and the record company. Film director Mića Milošević would use most of the songs from the album in his 1982 film A Tight Spot. At this tame, Đorđević was voted the Ideal Man by the readers of magazine for women Bazar. As a sign of his appreciation, Đorđević wrote a joking poem "Domaćice, skinite gaćice, ja volim vaše flanelske spavaćice" ("Housewives, take off your panties, I love your flannel nightgowns"), which the magazine refused to publish.
The band started a tour two weeks after the album release. However, the audience was less interested in their concerts than on the previous tours. The concerts in Croatia were organized by Scena revolucije (Revolution Scene), an organization of Croatian SUBNOR. The tour was ended with a concert in Belgrade's Sajmište hall, which was the first concert in the hall after 16 years. The concert was extensively promoted. Đorđević himself threw flyers over Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Šabac and Pančevo, from a plane pyloted by aviator and disc jockey Zoran Modli. The concert was entitled Hleba i igara (Bread and Games), and featured the biggest stage on a Yugoslav rock concert up to that point. The concert featured about 8,000 spectators. The opening bands on the concert were Dʼ Boys, Divlji Anđeli and Siluete, the latter performing with guitarist Nikola Čuturilo, who would later become a member of Riblja Čorba. As Milatović had to leave the band after the concert due to his army obligations, a barber cut his hair off on the stage. After the concert, Milatović left the band and was temporarily replaced by a former Tilt and Suncokret member Vladimir Golubović (who would later join Bajagić's band Bajaga i Instruktori).
Prior to leaving to serve the army, Milatović started a side project: he formed the heavy metal band Ratnici (later known as Warriors) with the vocalist Dušan Nikolić, but recorded only an EP with them. After he went to serve the army, the band recorded their debut album without Milatović, moving to Canada after its release. A short break after the Buvlja pijaca tour was used by another two Riblja Čorba members for their side projects. Kojić released his solo EP Ne budi me bez razloga (Don't Wake Me Up Without a Good Reason), with lyrics written by Đorđević and Bajagić and featuring Đorđević and Golubović as guests. The EP also featured Nenad Stefanović "Japanac" on bass guitar and Laza Ristovski on keyboards. Bajagić worked on the songs for his upcoming solo album, but found time to write several songs for Riblja Čorba's next album.
Mid 1980s: The crisis and decline in popularity, lineup change and comeback
At the end of 1983, Riblja Čorba represented Yugoslavia on an international festival in Bulgaria. The title of the festival was The Balkans - A Zone without Nuclear Weapons. The band held four concerts, the first one, in Plovdiv, attended only by young socialist activists with special invitations, forced by security to remain on their seats throughout the whole concert. On the closing ceremony, the band performed after Greek folk dancers, Bulgarian rhythm dancers and Romanian youth theatre, which performed the play Specter of Capitalism Attacks the Youth of the East. Prior to the concert, the band was asked not to perform the song "Kako je lepo biti glup".
Riblja Čorba's fifth studio album, Večeras vas zabavljaju muzičari koji piju (Tonight You Will Be Entertained by Musicians Who Drink), was released in 1984. As Riblja Čorba's record label PGP-RTB refused to pay for the recording in London, the band signed a contract with PGP-RTB's main competitor, Jugoton. However, the album ended up being recorded in Ljubljana and mixed in London. It was produced by Kornelije Kovač. Immediately after the album was released, state's censors declared songs "Mangupi vam kvare dete" ("Bad Boys Are Spoiling Your Kid") and "Besni psi" ("Rabid Dogs") "ethically unsuitable". The censors labeled the album as kitsch, which meant the price of it had to be higher than the normal record price. "Besni psi" even caused an international scandal. Because of the lyrics "Grčki šverceri, arapski studenti, negativni elementi, maloletni delikventi i besni psi". ("Greek smugglers, Arab students, negative elements, juvenile delinquents and rabid dogs"), embassys of three Arab countries and Zaire protested because, in their words, "Đorđević equated foreign students and rabid dogs", and the Yugoslav Ministry of Culture demanded an analysis of the song by the experts. Prior to the promotional concert in Belgrade, the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded from the band not to perform the song.
Večeras vas zabavljaju muzičari koji piju was not as nearly successful as Riblja Čorba's previous albums. Đorđević's dark, depressive lyrics were disliked by the critics, and the album's only hit was Bajagić's gentle ballad "Kad hodaš" ("When You Walk"). In the spring of 1984, Bajagić's solo album Pozitivna geografija (Positive Geography) was released, and was very well received by fans and critics alike. Bajagić and the musicians he recorded Pozitivna geografija with promoted the album with a well-attended concert in Belgrade's Dom sindikata, after which they got a large number of offers from concert organizers. On the other hand, Riblja Čorba spring tour was unsuccessful. Eight concerts were canceled due to lack of interest, and the concert in Pionir Hall was not well attended. The tour revealed the crisis and brought conflicts inside the band. Đorđević and Aleksić started turning towards alcohol, and Kojić was already a heroin addict. After Kojić failed to appear on two television appearances of the band, on several occasions left the band during the tour and had a car accident, Đorđević and Aleksić decided to exclude him from the band. Bajagić, however, insisted that Kojić remains a member, so Đorđević and Aleksić changed their decision. The band went on a summer break. However, they were soon offered 50,000 dollars by a hotel owner from Thessaloniki for summer performances. Đorđević phoned Bajagić, who was at the time on his vacation on Mljet, but Bajagić refused to return, explaining that, after his vacation, he had planned concerts on youth work actions with his new band, Bajaga i Instruktori. Kojić too refused to perform in Greece, and Đorđević and Aleksić decided to exclude both of them from the band. These events got large attention in the press. Both Bajaga and Kojić red in the papers that they were excluded from the band. Bajagić would continue his career as the leader of highly successful pop rock band Bajaga i Instruktori, while Kojić would retire from music, dying in 1997.
Riblja Čorba's new guitarists became Vidoja "Džindžer" Božinović, formerly of Pop Mašina, Dah, Opus and Rok Mašina, and Zoran Dašić, formerly of Šamar. Soon after, Milatović returned from the army and rejoined Riblja Čorba, while Golubović moved to Bajagić's Bajaga i Instruktori. After only five rehearsals, Dašić had to leave the band due to family obligations. (Dašić would later form the starogradska muzika band Legende, and Đorđević would write lyrics for seven and music for two songs released on their debut album.) He was replaced by Nikola Čuturilo. Before he joined Riblja Čorba, Čuturilo was a member of the bands Kredit (which would later evolve into Laki Pingvini), Bicikl, Zamba, Siluete, and, for only couple of months, Električni Orgazam. The band spent the autumn of 1984 performing mostly in clubs, firming their sound and practicing for the recording of the new album. On the last evening of Belgrade Summer Festival, on September 20, 1984, the band performed in Belgrade Youth Center, the concert being announced as a performance of the band called Debeli Bogoljub i Ljuti Tezgaroši (Fat Bogoljub and Old Moonlighters). At this time, Đorđević made a guest appearance on 1984 self-titled album by Bijelo Dugme, Riblja Čorba's main competitors at the time. Đorđević appeared on the song "Pediculis Pubis" (misspelling of "Pediculosis pubis"), having co-written it with Bijelo Dugme leader Goran Bregović and singing it with Bregović and Mladen Vojičić "Tifa". This guest appearance helped Riblja Čorba's shattered status. In the winter, the band entered the studio to record their next album.
The band's sixth studio album, Istina (The Truth), was released in 1985. Prior to album release, the band promoted it on their performance in the club Kulušić in Zagreb. The album was produced by McCoy, and recorded by Ratko Ostojić and Goran Vejvoda. Goran Bregović returned the guest appearance by singing with Đorđević in the song "Disko mišić" ("Disco Muscle"). As Jugoton refused to release the songs "Snage opozicije" ("Opposition Forces"), "Pogledaj dom svoj, anđele" ("Look Homeward, Angel"), "'Alo" ("Hello") and "Dvorska budala" ("Jester") because of their political-related lyrics, the band signed back with PGP-RTB, which refused to release only "Snage opozicije". Afer most of the newspapers published the lyrics of "Snage opozicije", the band gave up the idea to release it as a self-released single. (The song remained unreleased until 1997, when it appeared on the compilation album Treći srpski ustanak.) However, Đorđević had to replace the lyrics "S planine šakal zavija, tamo je Jugoslavija" ("A jackal is howling from the mountain, over there is Yugoslavia") from the song "'Alo" with "Ja iz dalekih predela posmatram tuđa nedela" ("From the faraway lands I'm watching their misdeeds"). Although after Večeras vas zabavljaju muzičari koji piju many critics claimed that Riblja Čorba belongs to the past, Istina was praised by both fans and critics. It represented the band's triumphant comeback, mostly thanks to the song "Pogledaj dom svoj, anđele", and is often considered Riblja Čorba's magnum opus. On the Bosnian winter tour that followed the album release and featured concerts in small town Bileća and villages Donja Mahala, Matuzići and Tišina, the former YU Grupa bass guitarist Žika Jelić replaced Aleksić, who was not able to perform due to illness. At the time, Jelić was 42, Đorević was 32, and Čuturilo was 22. In May, the band held a successful concert in Belgrade Sports Hall, and Đorđević released his first book of poems entitled Ravnodušan prema plaču (Apathetic towards Crying). In a month, 10,000 copies of the book were sold.
Late 1980s: New successes and political scandals
In February 1986, the band released their eight studio album, Osmi nervni slom (Eighth Nervous Breakdown). The album was produced by Kornelije Kovač. It featured British reggae musician Eddy Grant on vocals in the song "Amsterdam". Grant was, after his concert in Belgrade, persuaded by Riblja Čorba members to come to the studio and sing two strophes of the song. Other guests included saxophonist Jova Maljoković, on the song "Jedan čovek" ("One Man"), and actress and Bastion vocalist Ana Kostovska, on the song "Prokleto sam" ("So Damn Alone"). The album's biggest hits were "Amsterdam" and "Nemoj da ideš mojom ulicom" ("Don't Walk Along My Street"). The political songs "Tu nema Boga, nema pravde" ("There's no God, There's no Justice") and "Južna Afrika '85. (Ja ću da pevam)" ("South Africa '85 ("I'm Gonna Sing)"), although no more explicit than songs from previous Riblja Čorba albums, had a hard time finding the way to the listeners because of the radio editors' self-censorship. At the beginning of 1986, Đorđević's lyrics were even discussed by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia's Committee for Informative and Propaganda Actions. Political dilemmas did not affect the audience: on March 8, with a concert in Sarajevo's Skenderija, which featured some 10,000 spectators, Riblja Čorba started their most successful tour since the Mrtva priroda tour. At the end of March, they sold out Pionir Hall for the first time in four years, confirming their return to the top of the Yugoslav rock scene. During the same year, Milatović released his first solo album, U ritmu srca malog dobošara (In the Rhythm of the Little Drummer Boy's Heart). The album was produced by Kovač, and featured songs written by Milatović during Mrtva priroda and Ratnici - Warriors sessions. At the 1986 MESAM Festival, the band was awarded with the Rock Band of the Year Award, Đorđević was proclaimed Composer of the Year, and "Amsterdam" was proclaimed Hit of the Year.
In February 1987, they released their ninth studio album, Ujed za dušu (Soul Bite). The album was produced by Kovač, and featured the band's first cover, "Zadnji voz za Čačak" ("Last Train to Čačak", cover of The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville"). Surprisingly, the album did not feature political lyrics, with the exception of "Član mafije" ("Mafia Member"), a Caribbean music-inspired song in which Đorđević humorously described the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. The songs "Nesrećnice nije te sramota" ("Miserable Woman, Aren't You Ashamed") and "Zašto kuče arlauče" ("Why the Dog Howles") were released on a 7" single, which was given as a gift to the buyers of the first 1,000 copies of the album.
Đorđević's 1987 unplugged performance with singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić in Terazije Theatre resulted in a famous bootleg album Arsen & Bora Čorba Unplugged '87. The performance featured Stjepan Mihaljinec on piano and Božinović and Čuturilo on guitars. In 1987, Đorđević was indicted for "disturbing the public", when he red his poems on Studio B's anniversary celebration in Sava Centar. However, the court dismissed the prosecution's charges, as Đorđević was reading poems already published in his books and in various magazines. In 1988, after reading his poems in Bar, he was, after accusations of a policemen who was present, indicted for "insulting the working people of Yugoslavia", but these charges were, after a longer process, dropped. In 1988, Đorđević released Bora priča gluposti (Bora's Talking Rubbish), which featured a recording of his poetry evening held in Belgrade's KST. During the same year, he was accepted to the Association of Writers of Serbia.
In 1988, Riblja Čorba celebrated ten years of existence by releasing Priča o ljubavi obično ugnjavi (Talking about Love Is Usually Annoying), produced by Kovač, and the compilation album Riblja Čorba 10, which was released in a limited number of 1,000 copies only, and was given to the friends of the band and the media. The anniversary concert in Belgrade's Sajmište feaured some 15,000 spectators. Prior to the concert, the band had an intention to hold a fund raising concert in front of the Temple of Saint Sava, with all the funds raised dedicated to the construction of the Cathedral, with Đorđe Balašević, Ekatarina Velika and Piloti as special guests, but did not manage to get the permission from the police to organize it. Although the situation in the country became more dramatic, the album did not feature many political-related songs.
During these couple of years, Čuturilo started composing and writing lyrics for acts like Dejan Cukić, YU Grupa and Kerber, and, in 1988, he released his first solo album 9 lakih komada (9 Easy Steps). After releasing his second studio album, Raskršće (Crossroads), in 1989, he decided to leave the band and dedicate himself to his solo career. The band held their last concert with Čuturilo on October 14, 1989 in Sarajevo. He was replaced by Zoran Ilić, a former Bezobrazno Zeleno member.
In 1990, the band released Koza nostra (transliteration for Cosa Nostra, but also a word play, with "Koza" meaning "goat" in Serbian). The album was produced by Saša Habić. It featured Branimir Štulić and Azra members on backing vocals, on the track "Al Kapone" ("Al Capone"), former Suncokret members Bilja Krstić, Gorica Popović and Snežana Jandrlić on backing vocals, and Bajaga i Instruktori member Saša Lokner on keyboards. The album included a cover of Chuck Berry's song "Memphis, Tennessee", Riblja Čorba version entitled "Crna Gora, Bar" ("Montenegro, Bar"), "Baby" which Đorđević, by his claims, wrote when he was 13, and "Tito je vaš" ("Tito Is Yours"), one of the first Yugoslav rock songs to openly ridicule late Josip Broz Tito. After the album release, the band performed in Sweden, Romania and Australia. In Romania, they performed, alongside Bajaga i Instruktori, Galija, Valentino and Viktorija, in Timişoara, at the three-day concerts organized two months after the Romanian Revolution.
1990s: Riblja Čorba during war years and Milošević's regime
After the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars, Riblja Čorba members decided to record their farewell album. Labudova pesma (Swan Song), recorded in Vienna, featured several anti-war songs and only one hit, "Kad sam bio mlad" ("When I Was Young", cover of Eric Burdon's "When I Was Young"), However, it did not turn out to be Riblja Čorba's last album, as they eventually changed their decision to disband. Oliver Mandić, who was approached to join the band as a keyboard player, eventually did not become a Riblja Čorba member, and songs recorded with him were not released on the album. During the same year Zoran Ilić formed the comedy rock supergroup Babe with Bajaga i Instruktori member Žika Milenković, Električni Orgazam member Goran Čavajda and a former Bezobrazno Zeleno member Zoran Vasić. The next Riblja Čorba album Zbogom, Srbijo (Farewell, Serbia) was not very successful either. It featured "Zelena trava doma mog" ("Green Grass of My Home", cover of Tom Jones' "Green Green Grass of Home"), "Danas nema mleka" ("No Milk Today", a heavy metal cover of Herman's Hermits' "No Milk Today") and "Tamna je noć" ("Dark Is the Night", cover of Mark Bernes' "The Dark Night") as the album's only hits. At this period, Vlada Barjaktarević, a former Van Gogh member, became the band's first official keyboard player.
At this time, Đorđević became an active supporter of the Serbian troops in Republika Srpska and Republika Srpska Krajina. With Knin band Minđušari he recorded controversial songs "E moj druže zagrebački" ("Oh, my Zagreb Comrade"), as a response to Jura Stublić's song "E moj druže beogradski" ("Oh, my Belgrade Comrade"), and "Ljetovanje" ("Summer Vacation"). This has, alongside with the unsuccessful Riblja Čorba albums, made Riblja Čorba lose a part of their fans in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Đorđević's support for Serbian nationalism did not, however, imply support for the government of Slobodan Milošević, and he would express his attitude in Riblja Čorba political songs recorded on albums Ostalo je ćutanje and Nojeva barka, as well as on his 1996 solo album Njihovi dani (Their Days) which he released in his own name rather than that of his band. Nevertheless, the songs from Njihovi dani were performed at Riblja Čorba concerts and "Baba Jula" ("Grandma Jula", the song that innuends to Mirjana Marković) became an anthem on 1990s protests in Serbia. During the same year, Milatović formed the hard rock band Indijanci, infamous for their pornographic lyrics.
In the summer of 1996, Ilić left Riblja Čorba. He was not replaced, and the band continued with only Božinović on guitar. The album Ostalo je ćutanje (The Rest Is Silence), released in 1996, featured a cover of John Lennon's song "Jealous Guy", Riblja Čorba version titled "Ljubomorko" ("Jealous Guy"). At the beginning of 1997, a compilation album Treći srpski ustanak (Third Serbian Uprising), with a choice of Riblja Čorba political songs, previously unreleased "Snage opozicije" and the new song "Volim i ja vas" ("I Love You, Too"), was released. In 1997, the band held a tour named Po slobodnim gradovima Srbije (Around the Free Cities of Serbia) which ended with two concerts in Tašmajdan, with Rambo Amadeus, Babe, Prljavi Inspektor Blaža i Kljunovi, Direktori, Indijanci, Aleluja, and Kraljevski Apartman as the opening acts. On these two concerts Riblja Čorba recorded live albums Beograd, uživo '97 - 1 and Beograd, uživo '97 - 2. (Belgrade, Live 97 - 1 and 2). Đorđević's political involvement caused Riblja Čorba concert in Tivoli Hall in Ljubljana to be banned.
In 1999, Riblja Čorba released Nojeva barka (Noah's Ark), produced by Aleksić and Miša Popović. Album featured a cover of Merle Travis' "Sixteen Tons" (Riblja Čorba version titled "16 noći" ("16 Nights"). The former band member Momčilo Bajagić made a guest appearance on the song "Gde si" ("Where Are You"). At the beginning of 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Riblja Čorba recorded the patriotic tune "Samo Sloga Srbina Spašava" ("Only Unity Saves the Serbs") with Bajagić, Dejan Cukić, Van Gogh frontman Zvonimir Đukić, No Smoking Orchestra frontman dr Nele Karajlić, and Generacija 5 frontman Đorđe David.
The first Riblja Čorba album after the 2000 political changes in Serbia was Pišanje uz vetar (Pissing Against the Wind), released in 2001, on which Riblja Čorba experimented with different musical genres. "Crno-beli svet" ("Black and White World") featured Eyesburn frontman Hornsman Coyote on vocals. In 2002, after the tour following the album release, Barjaktarević left the band and was replaced by Nikola Zorić. In 2003, Milatović released a children's music album entitled Dečaci o devojčicama (Boys about Girls). In 2003, Riblja Čorba released Ovde (Here), with songs "Zašto uvek kurcu sviram" and "Pičkin dim" released on the bonus CD. The album saw little success, with the ballad "Poslednja pesma o tebi" ("The Last Song About You") becoming the album's only hit. On December 20, Riblja Čorba, alongside Orthodox Celts, performed in Belgrade's KST. The Riblja Čorba performance was interrupted due to a bomb threat. On July 3, 2004 Riblja Čorba, alongside the Belgrade faction of the band Zabranjeno Pušenje, held a concert at the Belgrade Ušće, in order to celebrate Riblja Čorba's twenty-five and Zabranjeno Pušenje's twenty years on the scene. However, the concert is best remembered by the fact that Zabranjeno Pušenje performance was ended after about half an hour, as the band performed the world music songs they recorded as The No Smoking Orchestra, and the angry fans threw various objects on stage. The other acts that performed on the concert included Negative, Prljavi Inspektor Blaža i Kljunovi, Bjesovi, Alogia, Roze Poze, Abonos, Kraljevski Apartman, Đorđe David, and others.
In 2005, the band released the EP Trilogija 1: Nevinost bez zaštite (Trilogy 1: Virginity without Protection), the first part of the Riblja Čorba trilogy. Two other parts of the trilogy, Trilogija 2: Devičanska ostrva (Trilogy 2: Virgin Islands) and Trilogija 3: Ambasadori loše volje (Trilogy 3: Badwill Ambassadors) were released in 2006. After releasing the live album Gladijatori u BG Areni (Gladiators in Belgrade Arena) in 2008, the band, at the beginning of 2009, released the studio album Minut sa njom (A Minute with Her). Minut sa njom was the first Riblja Čorba album since Pokvarena mašta i prljave strasti which did not feature any political song. The band celebrated thirty years since the release of their debut album Kost u grlu with a concert in Belgrade Arena, held on October 31, 2009.
In 2010, the band released the live/video album entitled Niko nema ovakve ljude! (No One Has This Kind of People!) with a recording of their concert held in Belgrade Arena on October 31, 2009. In January 2011, film director Dušan Vesić announced that he is working on a documentary about Riblja Čorba.
In August 2011, PGP-RTS released Riblja Čorba box set, which featured twelve CDs: the first ten studio albums, the first live album, and the singles released in the 1978—1990 period and rarities on the twelfth CD. In January 2012, the band released the live album Koncert za brigadire (Concert for the Brigadiers). The album features a recording of the band's performance on the 1985 youth work action Đerdap 1985. The album was released through RTV Stara Pazova, on CD and, in a limited number of 1000 copies, on vinyl record.
In 2012, in an interview, Đorđević stated that the band is going to perform in Zagreb, after more than twenty years, during 2013. On November 15, the band released their new studio album enitled Uzbuna! (Alarm!). The album was released both on CD, through City Records, and on vinyl, through Fidbox. The album was produced by John McCoy, with whom the band cooperated again after 27 years. At the same time, a 7" single, featuring the songs "Uzbuna!" and "Užasno mi nedostaje" ("I Miss Her so Much"), the latter recorded live, was released through Fidbox. The band celebrated 35 years of existence with a concert in Kombank Arena, held on March 23, 2013. The concert featured guest appearances by McCoy, Bajagić and Čuturilo.
In October 2013, the band performed in London's 100 Club. During the same month, Radio Television of Serbia broadcast a four part documentary about Đorđević and the band, entitled Uporno dozivanje anđela (Persistent Calling for the Angel), written by and directed by Slobodan Simojlović.
In late 2014, the band held a series of unplugged concerts across Serbia. The concerts, which were the first unplugged concerts since the beginning of the band career, featured Block Out member Miljko Radonjić on drums (Milatović playing percussions) and string decet Metamorfozis.
Riblja Čorba is one of the best-selling and is considered one of the top and most influential acts on the former Yugoslav rock scene and remains one of the top mainstream acts on the Serbian rock scene. However, Bora Đorđević's support for Serbian nationalism during Yugoslav wars has caused Riblja Čorba's absence from mainstream media in Croatia and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Riblja Čorba's and Bora Đorđević's work has been praised by singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić, Đorđević's former bandmate singer-songwriter Đorđe Balašević, Vatreni Poljubac leader Milić Vukašinović, Prljavo Kazalište guitarist and leader Jasenko Houra, former Azra leader Branimir "Džoni" Štulić, singer-songwriter and former Lačni Franz leader Zoran Predin, former Doktor Spira i Ljudska Bića leader Dušan Mihajlović "Spira", Bjesovi leader Zoran Marinković, and others. Riblja Čorba songs were covered by acts such are Prljavi Inspektor Blaža i Kljunovi, Zaklonišče Prepeva, Sick Mother Fakers, Six Pack, Alogia, Lude Krawe, and others.
The book YU 100: najbolji albumi jugoslovenske rok i pop muzike (YU 100: The Best albums of Yugoslav pop and rock music) features eight Riblja Čorba albums: Kost u grlu (ranked No. 16), Mrtva priroda (ranked No. 19), Pokvarena mašta i prljave strasti (ranked No. 23), Istina (ranked No. 43), Buvlja pijaca (ranked No. 64), Večeras vas zabavljaju muzičari koji piju (ranked No. 80), Osmi nervni slom (ranked No. 83), and U ime naroda (ranked No. 85). In 1987, in YU legende uživo (YU Legends Live), a special publication by Rock magazine, U ime naroda was pronounced one of 12 best Yugoslav live albums.
The song "Pogledaj dom svoj, anđele" was voted Hit of the Year in 1985 by the listeners of Radio Beograd 202 and Song of the Decade in 1990. In 2009, the song was voted the Greatest Domestic Song by the readers of the Standard magazine. The Rock Express Top 100 Yugoslav Rock Songs of All Times list, published in 2000, featured six songs by Riblja Čorba: "Pogledaj dom svoj, anđele" (polled No.1), "Dva dinara, druže" (polled No.2), "Ostani đubre do kraja" (polled No.25), "Lutka sa naslovne strane" (polled No.35), "Rock 'n' roll za kućni savet" (polled No. 64) and "Kad padne noć (Upomoć)" (polled No.76). The B92 Top 100 Yugoslav songs list features two songs by Riblja Čorba: "Kad hodaš" (ranked No.4) and "Lutka sa naslovne strane" (ranked No.12). In 2011, "Pogledaj dom svoj, anđele" and "Lutka sa naslovne strane" were polled, by the listeners of Radio Beograd 202, two of 60 greatest songs released by PGP-RTB/PGP-RTS during the sixty years of the label's existence.
The lyrics of 12 Riblja Čorba songs (11 written by Đorđević and 1 written by Bajagić) were featured in Petar Janjatović's book Pesme bratstva, detinjstva & potomstva: Antologija ex YU rok poezije 1967 - 2007 (Songs of Brotherhood, Childhood & Offspring: Anthology of Ex YU Rock Poetry 1967 - 2007).
- Kost u grlu (1979)
- Pokvarena mašta i prljave strasti (1981)
- Mrtva priroda (1981)
- Buvlja pijaca (1982)
- Večeras vas zabavljaju muzičari koji piju (1984)
- Istina (1985)
- Osmi nervni slom (1986)
- Ujed za dušu (1987)
- Priča o ljubavi obično ugnjavi (1988)
- Koza nostra (1990)
- Labudova pesma (1992)
- Zbogom, Srbijo (1994)
- Ostalo je ćutanje (1996)
- Nojeva barka (1999)
- Pišanje uz vetar (2001)
- Ovde (2003)
- Trilogija 1: Nevinost bez zaštite (2005)
- Trilogija 2: Devičanska ostrva (2006)
- Trilogija 3: Ambasadori loše volje (2006)
- Minut sa njom (2009)
- Uzbuna! (2012)
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