Jan 26, 2014

139/917 Vice Vukov: Ceznja (Yugoslavia 1965)

In the 21st century a balkan ballad has become a genre that collects easily points from all over Europe. During the first half of the Eurovision history the story was quite different. In the 1960's Jugoslavia provided the contest with great lovesongs from year to year, but they never fought over the highest positions in the final scoreboard and were soon forgotten. The 139th Eurovision entry is one of my biggest favourites ever in the Eurovision Song Contest, but I have hardly ever heard anyone else even remembering the song.

Croatian singer Vice Vukov had represented Yugoslavia already in 1963 with almost equally haunting ballad Brodovi (to which I promise to award high points as well should that song be drawn by the random number generator) reaching the 11th position (among 16 participants) in the final results. In 1965 the result was practically identical, as Ceznja received two points and came 12th (among 18 participants).

When I first heard the song from a bad quality tape, I was enchanted by the appealing melody which starts silently and opens into full bloom with no real distinction between the verse and the refrain. Vukov has bright and strong but also unpretentious voice which matches the melody and the arrangement to the full. My favourite part, however, is the instrumental break during the last third of the song with dreamy string and horn arrangement. After listening to the song I am mesmerized and want to listen to the song again.

It seems that after many years of winning ballads the Eurovision juries did prefer perky young female stars instead of serious male singer, so the song or the singer didn't get the recognition it deserved. Vice Vukov continued his career in Yugoslavia until he was forced to go exile for four years because of his political views. After returning to his home country he was blacklisted until the change of political climate in the end of 1980's when he became popular again. When Croatia became an independent democracy he served as a member of Croatian parlament for couple of years.

For a long time Ceznja could only be heard from the live recording of the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest and bad quality copy of the recorded version. Luckily by the change of the millenium a compilation cd by Vice Vukov came up with a pristine original recording available of this magnificent song. The live version from 1965 Eurovision Song Contest is worth full five points, but the recorded version (available at least on YouTube) is even better.

My points 5/5

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