Top 10 songs to kickstart your education in ROMANIAN rock (1970 up to 1992)

Romanian rock music is alive and well, a mature musical genre with its beginnings in the 1960s.

As one that started listening and attending live concerts in late 1970s, I am mostly familiar with three decades of its history: the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

I left Romania at the end of 90s to settle in Canada, so I’m a bit out of the loop ever since.

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The 70’s and 80’s Romanian rock was fascinating to witness.

It served well our thirst for freedom under the dark reign of Communists.

Communists were gone at the end of 1989, so the 90’s – especially the early ones, 1990-1993 – were loaded with creative rockers coming of age and free to play anything.

Below are my top 10 songs to get you started with your crash course in Romanian rock. Enjoy!

Band: PHOENIX

Arguably the best Romanian rock band ever. Famous for emigrating illegally to Western Germany hidden in speaker cabinets in the back of a truck.

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Band: SFINX

Band’s leader, Dan Andrei Aldea, is arguably the best guitar player Romanian rock ever had (just listen what happens in this song after minute 2’45”). Also a complex musician with formal classical training, Aldea emigrated to Western Germany during the dark 80’s in Communist Romania.

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Band: Celelalte Cuvinte

Another band from Transylvania (just like Phoenix above),  Celelalte Cuvinte (a wordplay literally meaning “the other words”) rocked the 80s with their blend of hard rock, elaborate passages and lyric interludes. Still an active band.

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Band: Pro Musica

Prog rockers from the vibrant scene of Timisoara (where Phoenix and Celelalte Cuvinte were as well), Pro Musica’s career spans three decades, 70s-90s

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Band: Iris

The most beloved Romanian rock singer ever was the frontman of Iris for 22 years: Cristi Minculescu. Just recently he left the band to pursue solo projects.

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Band: Timpuri Noi

This chorus of this song from the 80s goes like “light bulb, please stay alive, we love you” – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the forced hydro blackouts that Ceausescu ordered in the 80s, leaving a nation in the dark and cold on a daily basis.

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Band: Metropol

Unfortunately, little is known and talked about the Hungarian rock scene in Transylvania during late 70s to mid 80s. Growing up in that part of Romania, I was lucky enough to go to rock concerts that were just like in the West! Hard rock, long hair, lighting show – this was out of this world for a kid in Communist Romania.

Metropol were the best known band, but there were at least a dozen more worth mentioning.

Definitely a great page in Romanian rock music.

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Band: Semnal M

Another legendary band from Romania, Semnal M called Cluj – the capital of Transylvania – home. They brought the Deep Purple-ish sounds into Romanian rock, but went well beyond that.

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Band: Cargo

Solid rockers from Timisoara, one of the bands that successfully managed the transition from underground rock during Communist regime to freedom rock after 1989.

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Band: Survolaj

Survolaj shocked everybody when they showed up on Romanian’s rock scene.

They were the first to package Led Zeppelin, Cactus and jam rock in the form of a Romanian rock band with a modern sound. The few live appearances were closely followed by a cult audience.

The diva-like ambitus of frontman Daniel Petre, unique in Romanian rock, is well represented in the 18-minute epic below.

5 Comments

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  1. via Facebook:
    Doru Rocker Ionescu shared a link via George Motoc.
    2 hours ago
    iata un roman care face o buna reclama rockului romanesc, jos palaria (ca de comentarii subiective ii plina lumea… de romani:)!
    ** **
    Dion Yonesko Ce mare pacat ca Olimpic’64, Experimental Q, Curtea Veche, Redivivus si chiar si alte trupe nu au avut LP-uri !
    ** **
    Victor Plastich sunt tare curios care’i “cel putin cealalta duzina” de trupe unguresti. in afara de Metrock (vechi) si Vox T, chiar nu mai stiu sa fie… cel putin cu “urme” la Electrecord. caci altfel, aprigi sunt legendele
    ** **
    George Motoc Victor – eram pustan (13-14 ani) la sf de ani 70 in Baia Mare, dar circuitul trupelor din secuime si al celor din Satu Mare – Oradea – Arad era destul de viu, din moment ce aveam tot timpul concerte. Topul meu e subiectiv, dar am vrut sa aduc putina lumina peste partea asta de istorie. Tin minte nume ca Magneton, Origo – sint sigur ca la intilnirea cu Attila Virany Doru o sa intrebe de ele. Dac-as fi reporter, mi-as pune sediul o saptamina la Ciuc si vreo doua la Oradea si as discuta acolo cu citiva oameni.
    ** **
    Victor Plastich multumesc pentru completarea cu Magneton, imi scapasera. si Taltos RT sunt de ascultat. in orice caz, merci pentru ideea acestui top, ne trebuie cat mai multe poate reusim sa vedem niste fragmente din Zenes Karavan, multa muzica buna acolo. piesa asta cel putin este trasa tot in TVR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH50F-ZgJp4

  2. via Twitter
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    Mark Blevis ‏@markblevis 9 Jun

    @georgemotoc just in time. My Romanian’s gotten rusty. 😉
    ** **
    Michelle Sullivan ‏@msullivan 9 Jun

    Will check this out asap : “@georgemotoc: 10 songs to kickstart your education in ROMANIAN rock http://wp.me/ph56g-1rP @msullivan”

  3. via Facebook (Narcisa Miettinen)
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    Carmen Olaru În topul meu, pe primul loc e Metropol.See Translation
    Yesterday at 4:36pm · Like
    George Motoc Multam, Cisa! Carmen – am vrut musai sa aduc vorba de Metropol. Noroc cu Doru Rocker Ionescu ca sapa la arhive si scoate aur la lumina, nemaivorbind ca a fost la Atti Virany in vizita in Freiburg.
    23 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
    Jan Kovacs Multe lipsuri din topul acela. Pacat…
    22 hours ago · Like
    Narcisa Miettinen Nemaivorbind de faptul ca a fost in vizita chiar si la mine :)))See Translation
    15 hours ago · Unlike · 2
    Narcisa Miettinen Jan Kovacs fa si tu un top, n-ar strica sa vada si altii care-s alea 10 pentru tine See Translation
    15 hours ago · Like
    Jan Kovacs Sigur cu placere:
    1. CHROMATIC –Zodia Capricornului
    2. Experimental Q – Spre Univers
    3. Progresiv TM – Rusinea Soarelui
    4. Rosu si Negru – Aripi de pace
    5. Promusica -Si daca
    6. Metropol – Atunci e bine
    7. Sfinx – Secolul vitezei / Sinteze (Fii Soarelui)
    8. Semnal M-Vara amintirilor
    9. Iris – Sa nu crezi nimic
    10. Phoenix- Negru Voda
    11. Curtea Veche 43- DKT

    Pentru mine acestea sint cele mai reprezentative grupuri, au fost radacinile rock in RO. Am fost la concertele lor, am crescut cu ei, am suferit cu ei… Ordinea este aleatorie…doar simpla numerotare in lista.

  4. via Facebook (Marcel Ciascai)
    ================================
    Pam Thompson Awesome—never heard Romanian rock before. I am listening to SFINX right now.
    Yesterday at 3:15pm · Like · 1
    Marcel Ciascai
    Yesterday at 3:16pm · Like
    Pam Thompson Rock rocks in any language
    Yesterday at 3:16pm · Like · 2

  5. Not a bad article, but completely ruined by pro-capitalist/imperialist bias. It would be better not to mix politics with art.

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