Israel. As one of the first lands to form after WWII, Der Jundesntaat it’s been sought after since the biblical Diaspora and theorized by Theodor Herzl from the late XIX century. Declared and recognized as a state in 1948/49 from Mandatory Palestine, this controversial maneuver suffered rejection from the Arab League and other organs linked to the Palestinian cause. The conflicts and tensions among the two, are one of the most iconic cases of intolerance and racism in our history!
The Israeli occupations (since 1967), armed conflicts and hatred shown by the parties, seem to be viewed with compliance eyes by the Western society.
With the strong support and lobby from U.S. and England this young country in merely 10 years tripled your population to almost 3.5 million, much caused by the Aliyah (Jewish immigration) and an international immigration boom, turning a secluded society into a mixture of cultural/religious influences that arrived from Iraq, Russia, Tunisia, Yemen, Germany, Iran, Poland, Romania and many others.
Aris San arrived in 1957 seeking a place to show his electric abilities and in less than five years would become one of the greatest stars of Israel, the so-called King of Jaffa.
Let’s go yo our history:
Aristotelis Saisanas (January 19, 1940 – July 25, 1992) was born in Kalamata, Greece in an Orthodox family. With 8 years old they moved to Athens, where he completed his studies at the elementary school. With 11 years, won a young talent competition and at 16 began performing in taverns, singing and playing guitar. (!)
He moved to Israel when he was 17, where quickly became a local star singer. The early ’60s had started a Greek wave of popular (mostly laika based) music in Israel, nightclub related music with bouzouki originating from Athens and Thessaloniki.
Arianna nightclub in Jaffa, became Aris ‘headquarters’, even general Moyshe Dayan loved his music and helped him to legalize its affairs. His shows became very popular, not only ordinary people came to see him, but also politicians and the highest army officers. Thanks to his relations, Aris San got himself Israeli citizenship (almost impossible to obtain for a non-Jew) and his career was promptly rising.
In the mid-’60s, everyone was singing Aris’s hits, and by the end of the decade, he managed to sell more than 500,000 copies between singles and albums, starring film soundtracks, playing throughout the country (after the Six-Day War) and definitely shaped the Israeli rock sound. (!) What it seemed to be an unstoppable career, quickly changed when rumors that Aris was a spy and stories of a violent relationship with Aliza Azikri (pregnant at the time) began circulating. Plus his open defense to Zionism (sic) and straight relation with the military, formed a boiling cauldron.
He left Israel hurt, and set out to conquer America, fleeing to New York in late 1970. There, he even shaved his mustache and started to wear a wig and large glasses. (!)
After moving to New York, in 1972 he opened a famous club called the Siroco, which will quickly become a temple of the bourgeoisie. Its frequenters could be seen by Anthony Quinn, Telly Savalas, Melina Mercouri, Harry Belafonte and the mob boss Joe Gallo, (for whom Bob Dylan wrote the Joey in Desire Lp).
Gallo stuck with him, pushing it to the coke addiction; Aris became a rich man and enjoyed all the wealth and excitement that America of the ’70s and ’80s had to offer. With bad influences the sandcastle collapsed, he got involved with drug deals, local Mafiosi and was convicted for two years, in a drug possession charge.
Free from prison, his life dramatically changed. Suffering from paranoia and depression, he fled to Budapest, trying to revive his career. After a broken hand, he was hospitalized and died of a heart attack a few days later. Some claimed that the mob was involved, while others claim that he went underground. (RIP)
This curious tragic fact has retreated in the documentary The Mystery of Aris San (2007), directed by Dani Dothan and Dalia Mevorach, check it out!
Let’s go to our album:
Hataklit Hashvii or Record Seven is a true masterpiece, despite not having the MEGA hit Dam Dam (probably his famous song). What I consider the pinnacle of his career, letting the romantic / beat side far away, Aris’s band (drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards), also got sax and flute passages, female choir and light fuzz.
Singing in Greek and Hebrew (in previous albums he also sang in Spanish), his music got the perfect blend between the uptempo positive Laika style and the harmonic/melodic minor key influences from the East. Added to this, his superb technique in Guitar/Bouzouki timbre, smiling figure and behaved persona, distant from the rebellious western rock bands, made Israel embraced him as one of them.
The ‘IM’ highlights are Im Etn Ani Lach Mi and Den Katalaveno Tipota.
A1 Afilotimi (Hatzinasios)
A2 To Palikari (Aris San)
A3 Gam Hapa’am (Folklore)
A4 Dipli Zoy Diplos Kaymos (Aris San)
A5 Im Eyn Ani Lach Mee (Aris San)
A6 Okutalyanos (Katsaros)
B1 Den Katalaveno Tipota (Kinoussis)
B2 Rak Bachalom (Kaniel)
B3 Katerina (Katsaros)
B4 Hakol Sh’karim (Aris San)
B5 Alou Esikialou (Aris San)
B6 Tou Andra Tou (Markopoulos)
A1, A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, B5, B6: Sung in Greek.
A3, A5, B2, B4: Sung in Hebrew.