Originally published by YU Garage 2002


Partibrejkers are definitely one of the most important bands for ex-YU rock'n'roll. They are the godfathers of YU garage punk and the whole scene there. Partibrejkers were formed in 1982. Their first LP from 1985 brought good old rhythm'n'blues and rock'n'roll back to one more lost teen generation. That generation was too young for punk, and too angry for arty post punk bands. Yugo rock was also in big crisis. Many punk bands didn't survive (not only musical) revolution. Because of big interest of mass media some of them turned into shitty pop.  Anyway - pop, electro pop and disco occupied radio and tv. Sweet music, stupid lyrics and smiley faces were all around us. Our parents could sleep peacefully again. It seemed like some big stupid party was going on and everything we needed was rebellion again. We needed party breakers and we got Partibrejkers.

I remember when I heard "1000 godina" (1000 Years) I knew "This is it!". It was rootsy rockin' r&b sound with distorted guitar and great vocal telling you: "I don't want to live 1000 years - I want it now and I want it all". And really 1st Partibrejkers LP is real masterpiece. It's strange but there is no bass guitar on this record. It's like early Cramps - just two guitars, drums and here and there harmonica. Songs were simple, straight to the point, with great lyrics. When you listen to it - you hear really wild street noises - lot of feedbacks - great guitar riffs, hypnotizing drums and singer who sings like he talks straight to you, like he calls you to go out of your room and don't care if everything sucks. Anyway Partibrejkers were for me great rock'n'roll band I could play very very loud and my parents couldn't stand them at all. WOW!!! That was great feeling! After that, Partibrejkers toured every stage all over the country - spreading garage punk virus. 

And in 1988 there is finally 2nd Brejkers LP - again without title or number - just simple "Partibrejkers". In the same year garage "infection" spreads from town to town from street to street from garage to garage. This time great bands were coming also from small places, not only big cities. And what to say about Partibrejkers 2nd album - one more great record. They left "2 guitars-no bass" concept. Now they are 1 guitar + bass + drums band. Songs are great again and little bit more rock'n'roll than 1st LP. Anyway - after 3 years of hunger for more Partibrejkers music, we got our portion and I have to say - it was very very tasty again. It's like your favorite food. You don't like if somebody changes its taste, even just a little bit.

For next Partibrejkers LP we didn't have to wait 3 years - in 1989 their 3rd record was out. Again without title - so it's not very handy for collectors - but who cares. This 3rd LP wasn't just an ordinary  good record. It was masterpiece again with really great songs. This album contains first Partibrejkers super mega hit - "Kreni prema meni" (Come To Me). It's fast r'n'r song with very dirty and great guitar riff. Good old Chuck Berry would be very proud to hear that somebody can still have super mega hit using and developing his famous style. Can you imagine garage punk band on top of every top list with very trashy song? In 1989 it was possible in Yugoslavia. Everybody knows Partibrejkers - they are real phenomenon. It's so unique. I was so happy - 1989 was for me like 1965 or 1966 or 1977 for somebody else. 100s of bands were playing garage punk in every youth club, 100s of tapes, some 7"s & LPs came out in that year & in 1990 & 1991. All of them were great. But there was big shit going on in Yugoslavia. Garage punk was in some way our protest against nationalistic politics. Partibrejkers sing about it in two songs "Ono sto pokusavam" (That's What I'm Trying To Do) & "Hipnotisana gomila" (Hypnotized Crowd). "Hipnotisana gomila" was 2nd big hit from this record. Destiny is strange thing. Partibrejkers were last band I saw in my hometown before I left for Holland. They should have played 2 nights in one club, but they played only 1st night. It was great, but the atmosphere was very strange - full of tensions and fear for future. Next day bombs were falling and there was no place for rock'n'roll anymore. You can see a little bit of this sad and scary atmosphere on Partibrejkers video tape "Poslednji dani slobode" (Last Days Of Freedom) from 1991.

Partibrejkers did 2 more albums in 90s - as far as i know. Their 4th album has title "Kiselo i slatko" (Acid & Sweet). It's great record again. This band just can't make bad songs. "Kiselo i slatko" sounds a bit tripy. Maybe because of acid guitar solos. Further it's typical Partibrejkers garage punk. It's very difficult for me to compare them with any other band. Musically they are some kind of punk version of early 70s Stones style. Blues or better rhythm & blues influences are very strong. Vocal is apart. There are lot of bands in ex yugoslav countries who sing that way. I can compare it with Mick Jagger's way of singing. Try to imagine The Rolling Stones from early 70s playing punk. It's not exactly the sound that New York Dolls had - it's bit rawer and faster and more bluesy.
"Ledeno doba" (The Ice Age) is Partibrejkers 5th album. For me it's a little bit better than "Kiselo i slatko". Anyway - it's one more great album. I like it a lot. I'm just jealous I can't see them live.


Originally published in Uzurlikzurli #2 December 1996


    It was late July/early August 1984. My brother and I were working at my grandparents place, shifting the gravel to earn some pocket money we would spend for ice cream and lemonade later on. The day was bloody hot. I didn't like the idea of breaking my back, but couldn't help it. The pile of gravel was waiting for us, shovels were lying around, the work had to be done.

partibrejkers Partibrejkers trying to look cool for their album shot.
pic by: Stanislav Milojkovic '84.

Small AM radio was turned to the local station that played some, more or less, middle of the road stuff. My mouth was sore dry and I was on a brink of collapse when the announcer introduced the new band from Belgrade - Partibrejkers - and their debut single "Hiljadu Godina" ("One Thousand Years"). It was something I haven't heard before - fast, loud and dangerous for sure. I couldn't give such a description then, but it sounded like The New York Dolls on speed playing some prime Pretty Things tune. The drummer seemed untamed, guitars (no bass) fought against each other and singer desperately yelled how even if he could live one thousand years he would fit his whole life into one day. To a young teenager, like myself then, that was the only and whole truth.

A couple of months later I finally got the chance to hear B side of that single - again on the radio - this time in a car on our way to Greece. It wasn't as fast as "Hiljadu Godina", but the energy was there. Also, my father was irritated by the lyrics. We survived Orwellian 1984 (after all it was better than expected), and welcomed 1985. When I think about it 1985 wasn't such a good year for r'n'r - Sonic Youth and Hüsker Dü were about to make it big, punk and new wave were dead and well, most of the excitement was gone. Somewhere in hazy Australian pubs kids were trying to give much needed adrenalin injection into the veins of punkrock, while in L.A. The Lazy Cowgirls released their first album, which was just a pale image of what they'd become later.That same year Partibrejkers released their debut self-titled LP - the best punk'n'roll record released that year.

   Cane: "If Lux can eat a microphone, I can eat TWO!!!"

But, let's reveal some history first: apparently they formed in 1981. Don't know about the rest of the band, but singer Cane was in an excellent punk band Radnicka Kontrola, which, unfortunately, ended up releasing only 2 songs on a compilation LP. The first Partibrejkers song that saw the light of day was "Radio Utopia", which opened Vol. 1 of the series of comp. albums with some unsigned ("demo") Yugo bands. The song was good, but it didn't present the power they'd give us a year or two later.

Anyway, Partibrejkers (which means 'Partybreakers', and is actually spelled as it is pronounced in Serbian) had their debut out in 1985. As with nearly every new band in Yugoslavia at that moment, they got some radio and TV airplay. At first it seemed as if they were going to make it, but I'll talk about it later.

"Partibrejkers" is the best album ever released in Yugoslavia, even though I hate to give such qualifications. There are several Yugo records that come very close to this one, but each and every one of them has some weak moment, while this one hasn't got any. It is perfect. I mean, if I gave my Top 10 list of LPs this one would be in it, right there with the Velvets, MC 5, The Stooges and Ramones - it is that good. Front cover, back cover, lettering, lyrics, music, arrangements, playing, production, their clothes and shoes - everything is 10 out of 10.

The cover is a shot of the band in action - cliche, but works in some cases, and in this one in particular. I'm sure if you're a punk rock fanatic and come across this album, you would buy it without prior listening, just by looking at the cover. The drummer looks like a runaway prisoner, singer like a skinhead who forgot to shave his head for a few weeks, the guitar player as if he was undecided (but still comfortable) and another one (very garagey looking) levitating in the air. Back cover contains lyrics written in strange, square spiral (if you get me), way and credits done in punk manner, ie. "nickname - instrument".

The first thing you could hear when the stylus strikes the opening song "Ako Si" ("If You Are") are the guitars, and the only thing you can feel is the force, which won't you throughout all 11 songs of this album. It is possible that they just came up with the wordplay on The Heartbreakers. One thing that's for sure is that Partibrejkers were influenced by that Johnny Thunders's outfit, as well as by NY Dolls, Stooges, MC 5, Dictators and the like. Also, it's obvious they were hooked on r'n'b.

None of the songs exceeds the limit of four chords (maybe a chord or two extra for a chorus), and the thing that makes it all more exciting is the absence of the bass guitar - only two guitars, both lead and rhythm, depends on perception. Now, you tell me, how many years before The Gories, Cheater Slicks and Oblivians was that?

Producer was Koja, once in a seminal punk band Šarlo Akrobata, then in nearly as good Disciplina Kicme (now based in London, playing rave shit - at least that's what I've been told - how dull!). No matter how great the Partibrejkers were then, he made them sound even better on record - loud guitars, thumping drums and sharp vocals. Think about "My Machine" by The Humpers and anything by Teengenerate and you'll get a pretty close picture of the sound on this album. Even the break between the songs is so short, which makes it all even more fast-paced and dynamic.

Lyrics are desperate urban stories of love, hate, alienation, fear, lust, hope, and even child abuse (with a chorus: "Tajna Tatina Devojka" - "Secret Daddy's Girl"). These songs helped me through my turbulent puberty better than any friend, girl, psychologist, drug or alcohol ever could. I can imagine what the author of the lyrics must've been through before writing it, for there's no way they were phoney.

As said earlier, it seemed they would make it with their debut - their videos had a fair bit of airplay and they hit the charts, but nothing major happened. Knowing the circumstances back home then, I would say they sold up to 10,000 copies of the album, which was considered to be kind of a disaster for a new band on one of the two biggest labels in the country, and would usually end with dropping the band off. I can't say for sure if that happened in this case, but the band broke up soon after releasing their first LP.

Apparently, their early shows were great. The only live performance (in the line-up that played on the album) I've seen was the TV broadcast of Yugoslavian Band Aid (if you thought Band Aid and USA For Africa were bad wait to hear this one). Promoters managed to put up the gig on the biggest soccer stadium in Yugoslavia and lined up the crappiest pop/rock bands of the moment. Don't ask me who decided to let Partibrejkers play, but I'm sure the person who's done it got fired immediately. There they were - Partibrejkers were playing live right there in my home! I could've just stretched my arm and touch them. It was excellent, though only 3 songs, but they were cranking it up and the singer ran amok on stage. My father got annoyed again.

The cover of awesome Partibrejkers' debut. Pic by: Stanislav Milojkovic, '84.

Too good to last, as they said. The band ceased to exist. Anton, a guitarist, shortly after played in another cool band called Placenici (Hitmen - now, that's not coincidence any more!). The singer also joined some band, but they didn't last long. The other guitar player seemed to be very quiet for the next several years, while the drummer, Manzanera, disappeared (virtually, I think).

Maybe the Partibrejkers weren't around anymore, but they left a huge testimony to the kids out there. They didn't sell too many records, but all the people who bought their album "went on to form their own bands". Soon after their demise lots of guys all over Yugoslavia realised that they could do it too, and they've done it. Overnight the city clubs became occupied by new punkish r'n'r bands to the delight of all the people (me included) who thought the r'n'r died with Partibrejkers. Unfortunately, major labels didn't want to have anything to do with these bunch of degenerates, so all that's left from that period are several cassette-only releases. Still, at the same time, independent record labels started forming up day by day, but that's another story.

"Are we cool enough for you punksters or what?" The drummer (back) looks like he had one too many.
Pic by: Goranka Matic, '84

Around early 1986 Partibrejkers reformed with a new line-up. Only the singer and guitarist were still in the band, with the new drummer, and bassist instead of second guitarist. I checked one of their first gigs and it was great, but not as good as before. Next year they put out second LP, titled "Partibrejkers" again. Also their third album is self-titled as well, which causes a lot of confusion.

As I am coming to an end of a story, or a saga, as you may say, I have to admit I never wrote review as long as this one ever (this was before I wrote Cul de Sac one-P.). The fact is that I haven't heard Partibrejkers' first LP for at least 5 years (I don't even have it on a tape at the time of writing this). Still, I know it by numbers. I know every detail on the cover, all the lyrics and riffs, I know every note by heart. Maybe "Partibrejkers" isn't the best album ever, but it is the one that affected my life as no record before or after.

And a bit of a trivia for all of you who think I went too seriously about everything: in early 1992 during FEST (the annual international film festival in Belgrade) Partibrejkers were joined live on stage by Johnny Depp on guitar and Jim Jarmush on back-up vocals. I saw the whole event on telly and am still trying to obtain the video of it. Also, Partibrejkers haven't only influenced the Yugo bands - Antiseen have blatantly ripped of "Tajna Tatina Devojka" and re-titled it into "Wife Beater", while L7's "Shit List" is nearly a note-by-note copy of "Ulicni Hodac" ("Street Walker").