(Grupa) Zana
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The first version of the band Zana was formed in 1980 in Belgrade (Serbia) by Zoran "Kikamac" Živanović (keyboards) and Radovan Jovićević (guitar). After meeting the singer Zana Nimani (who was from Albanian descend) they named the band after her. Soon a debut single was made with the title ‘Nastavnice' (Teachers) with some local success. This enabled the band to perform at the Belgrade Spring Festival for which they wrote a new song called ‘Leto' (Summer). Demo’s for an entire album were send to the state record company PGP RTB but they thought the band to be to non-commercial. The Jugoton label (based in Zagreb, Croatia) was interested however and already had a string of young pop and rock groups in their roster. The band left for Zagreb and recorded the single ‘Loše vesti uz rege za pivsku flašu’ (Bad news accompanied by reggae from a beer bottle) in 1981.

Succes came with the ‘Dodirni mi kolena’ in 1982 on which the band made synthpop and new wave. The album was recorded in Torsby, Sweden. In 1983 they release the follow up ‘Natrag na voz’ including the pop-ballad hit ‘Jabuke i vino’, a duet of Zana Nimani and Željko Bebek (the ex-frontman of Bijelo Dugme). At the height of the success Zana Nimani deceided to leave the band and record a solo album ‘Noćas pevam samo tebi’ which was released in 1986. With the outbreak of political crisis and war in the former Yugoslavia she left the country and is currently residing in British Columbia, Canada

This left the band to decide to either split up or continue. Zoran and Radovan decided the latter by adding the word ‘grupa’ to the bands name. With new singer Nataša "Naca" Gajović they left Jugoton and were signed by PGP RTB. In this combination they recorded three albums with a sound that shifted more to pop-folk. Members of the popular Bijelo Dugme were frequent guests. In 1989 Nataša couldn’t handle the stress of touring and her ambition to have a career in science and left. This left the band again without a singer and for a short while Nataša ‘Marina’ Živković filled the gap. Although they had a small pop-folk hit with ‘Rukuju se, rukuju’ it turned out that Marina was a member of a Buddhist sect and suddenly goes to India where she is now a member of the ‘maharisijevaca’ group.

At this time (1990) singer Jelena Galonić joined the band to be the singer of Grupa Zana to this date. The popfolk sound the group made gave them a huge popularity post war Serbia. In 1999, Radovan Jovićević, one of the founders of the band, left the group and moved to the United States. This left only Zoran and Jelena to continue the band. They released the album ‘Zana 21 ’ in 2001. After this the band fell silent besides a remix compilation album in 2006 in celebration of the 25th anniversary.The album, ‘Kao nekad’, included remixes of the older hits like ‘Dodirni mi kolena’ and ‘Vejte snegovi’. For a one off reunion concert original singer Zana Nimani was also invited but she thanked politely for the honour and did not attend. The reunion did spark the idea with Jelena and Zoran for a new album which was scheduled for 2008 but is not released yet.

On the web:

- Grupa Zana's website: http://www.zana.rs/

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What do we think:

DB: I only know the period of Zana with the initial singer Zana Nimani. Those two albums are very nice synthpop that can withstand the synthpop coming from other European countries at the start of the eighties. Nice pop, not too doomy, sympathetic. I have no idea what the group did after that and several fora on the web aren't clear either. Some say it's OK, others that its downhill after Nimani left. So, if anyone has any comments or ideas please let us know.

Recommended albums:

♪♪♪ - Dodirni mi kolena - 1982

♪♪♪ - Natrag na voz - 1983

Further listening: Crvene lale - 1985; Otkinimo nocas zajedno - 1987; Vojna posta, Vlak, Ozenices se ti... - 1988; Nocni voz za Instanbul, Rukuju se.. - 1989; Nisam, nisam - 1991; Trazim - 1993; Zanomanija - 1997; Prijatelji - 1999; Zana 21 - 2001

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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