Could you try to imagine Aerosmith with Joe Perry but without Steven Tyler? Or perhaps Bon Jovi without… Well, Bon Jovi? Try with Angus Young without Brian Johnson? Oh, wait, that one actually happened. Well, it wasn’t pretty anyway, wasn’t it? That’s pretty much how I see Divlje jagode. No doubt, one of the legends of Yugoslav Hard Rock, who, over the course of decades, went through a number of lead singers. Some of them have gone on to achieve respectable careers, others not so much. What they all have in common is the fact they haven’t been part of Divlje jagode for too long. And now, on their 11th (not counting an album with English lyrics which was more of a compilation record with translated lyrics) full length, they have three of their former vocalists return for a session role. Plus an actual singer that currently occupies the role. All of that to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band. Not bad for a band that survived the collapse of its native country and a civil war that devastated it. Or maybe, not bad for the guitar player who is the only one who stuck around all these years.
Now, this is not quite a new album. Among the twelve, there are only four new songs. The rest are old ones, recorded again for this release. The point of this move remains a mystery, as Divlje jagode are heading for the title of a band with most “best of” releases in history. I’ll count it as an anniversary recording, so I will turn a blind eye.
You cannot really expect an act with such a long career to still have all the answers to the everlasting question of creating big hits, can you? It rarely happens and it didn’t happen now either. The four new tracks are just your good old pub Rock anthems, nowhere near what this band was capable of, at their peak. However, these are not bad songs. You can certainly sing along (provided you are versed in former Yugoslav languages) and have a good time. All the pieces of a good Hard Rock puzzle are there and they fit just fine. Decent guitar riffs, clear vocals and a firm, though not very imaginative, rhythm section. All of them accompanied by subtle keyboards. Also, the lyrical themes are what you might expect. Sad love songs or hymns to the Rock ‘n’ Rolling lifestyle.
As you see, there is nothing even remotely new or fresh on “Jukebox”. It is a simple, honest, Hard Rock record. Fans of Hard Rock aren’t known for their thirst for experiments anyway. And they seem not to be very picky when it comes their favorite brand of music. They will be satisfied, for sure.