Today’s presentation is an obscure record released without the alias that made him a worldwide famous composer, producer, and musician: Vangelis.
Let’s go to our artist:
Born in Volos, Greece on the 29th of March 1943 Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (Ευάγγελος Οδυσσέας Παπαθανασίου) was a self-taught prodigy who avoided most formal piano lessons. Apparently, a gifted painter as a child his schooling was based on a formidable memory that enabled him to learn by intuition rather than by rote.
In the ‘60s he was part of the popular groups The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child who hit big with “Rain and Tears” and the double album 666, selling more than 1 million copies over the four years of the band’s duration of rising stardom in Europe and US!
A significant figure during turbulent times in Greece Vangelis began his score work in 1970 and then released his first proper solo disc – Earth – in 1973. After moving to London Vangelis’ distinctive electronic album work took off, acclaimed scores for movies like Chariots of Fire, Conquest of Paradise, Blade Runner, Alexander, and many many more remain perennial best sellers and feature in the American Film Institute’s list of greatest scores of all time(!). He is considered a titan in the electronic field releasing more than 50 albums in a career spanning the period from the 1960swhen he was in bands in his native Greece to the present day. A deeply private and guarded individual who rarely grants the press entry into his world Vangelis explains himself best when he says:
“Mythology, science, and space exploration are subjects that have fascinated me since my early childhood. And they were always connected somehow with the music I write.”
In 1975 Vangelis looked back:
“I like the whole spectrum of music. Jazz, pop, rock, the classics. I have no taboos, any kind of music is great, so long as it is honest. So I’m glad to help any artist whom I like. You see, I don’t regard myself primarily as a producer. It’s just that I have so many ideas, I can’t put them all on my own records. Production allows me more flexibility, more outlets. I was a prisoner of Aphrodite’s Child for three years, in the end, I was desperate. I was forced into the position of turning out music that didn’t interest me because of our own success. When I first went to Paris, I had lots of ideas that I wanted the group to be. But I realized that, as a new and foreign act, we had to create confidence in ourselves from the record company. And that confidence comes only from proving that you can earn money for them. What I didn’t realize is, that has created a precedent, it’s very difficult to diverge from it. It takes years to change your product. I have no regrets about that period, but it did waste a lot of time.“
Let’s go to our album:
Alpha Beta is probably it’s less known work to date, released on the legendary BYG Records label and distributed by Discodis in France back in 1971, this 7” presents a wild experimentation vibe with haunting vocals, paced percussion, lots of keyboards floating around the psychedelic guitar-synth driven session in a far off trip… απολαμβάνω!
A Astral Abuse
Written By: Koulouris, Papathanassiou, Vilma
B Who Killed?
Written By: Papathanassiou, Gomelsky
Guitar: Argiris Koulouris
Performer: Evangelos Papathanassiou
Vocals: Vilma Lado
Composer, lyricist/singer Pavlos Sidiropoulos(July 27, 1948 – December 6, 1990), only lived until the age of 42, though he left behind a remarkable musical legacy and influence amongst young artists. He was the great-grandson of Zorba, nephew of the poet Elli Alexiou and since his early age showed a musical aptitude. A true legend, despite the few musical releases in life, today’s entry is simply considered as the most important rock album of all time in Greece! Fortunately, there’s plenty of information(in greek) available about Pavlos, your site/tribute, deserves a lookout!
Over time other albums will come and we’ll try to bring more details about the life of this fabulous artist, we count on to help from our Greek friends, rest in peacePavlos.
Let’s go to our artist:
Sidiropoulos began his career in 1970 in Thessaloniki, where he was studying maths at Aristotle University. Together with Pantelis Delleyannidis they set up the folk-duo Damon and Phintias; though he does not graduate he returns to Athens, disappointed with the revolutionary youth, where he worked to his father’sfactory. He soon met, at Kittaro’s, Dionysis Savvopoulos and his group Bourboulia, he joined the band and released the 45 release Damis The Tough (Ντάμης ο σκληρός) in 1972. There, he stayed until 1974, and therefore first experimented with combining folklore and rock.
Afterward, Sidiropoulos collaborated with the Greek composer Yannis Markopoulos, singing his compositions with lyrics by the poet Dimitris Varos. In 1976, together with Spiropoulos brothers, he founded the music group Spiridoula. It took three years for their first release, the cornerstone album Flou, with the homonymous theme song that inspired many musicians, opening a completely different path to Greek audience!
In 1975, he made its two film appearances. He had the leading role in the film (and OST)O Asymvivastos, directed by Andreas Thomopoulos, at the same time, he starred with Dimitris Poulikakosanother movie by Thomopoulos, Aldevaran.
Sidiropoulos joined the band Οι Απροσάρμοστοι (The Misfits), in 1980 where he remained until his death. They released 3 studio albums and numerous live performances. En Lef̱kó̱ was published in 82′, and many of the songs were censored!
In 1985, Zorba the Freak came out and in 1989 they released (its lastly) Without Make-up, which was recorded live at Metro club in Athens. In the summer of 1990 and after his mother’s death, his left hand started getting paralyzed, as a result of his long term drug use that he was trying to overcome for many years. He continued his live performances but the deterioration of his health had serious implications. On December 6, 1990, he died from a heart attack, caused by heroin overdose. (RIP)
Let’s go to our album:
Considered by many the most important album in Greek rock music, I was completely surprised the first time I heard him a and it touched me really deep!
Pavlos is simply the best, always with a tight band, he delivers nice guitars, horns, elements from prog, psychedelic and jazz, folk and(beautiful) classic rock, wow!
The ‘IM’ Highlights are Oi Sovaroi Klooun(Serious Clown) and I Ora Tou Stuff(The Time of Stuff). Safar Wanaagsan!
Tracks Include (polytonic, romanized and translated):
A1 Ο Μπάμπης Ο “Φλου” – O Babis O Flou (The Father Flou)
A2 Μου ‘πες Θα Φύγω – Mou Pes Tha Fygo (You Told Me I Will Go)
A3 Που Να Γυρίζεις – Pou Na Gyrizeis (Where To Turn?)
A4 Ξέσπασμα – Xespasma (Outbreak)
A5 Οι Σοβαροί Κλόουν – Oi Sovaroi Klooun (Serious Clown)
B1 Το ’69 Με Κάποιο Φίλο – To ’69 Me Kapoio Filo (The ’69 With a Friend)
B2 Στην Κ. – Stin K. (In K.)
B3 Η Ώρα Του Stuff – I Ora Tou Stuff (The Time of Stuff)
B4 Τω Αγνώστω Θεώ – To Agnosto Theo (Tm Unknown God)
Greece. Hardly any other pop genre in Europe has been influenced so deeply by its own musical history. No wonder if you take into consideration the numerous dramatic social and political events the country had to endure in the 20th century:
WW I and II, Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), The Greek Civil War (1946-49) and the dictatorship of dictators Ioannis Metaxas(in the thirties) and Papadópoulos(in the sixties) had a huge impact on the music singers and songwriters.
Basically, Greek popular music falls apart in two separate genres:
The Rembétiko / Éntekhno genre is the more traditional of the two, a sort of Greek blues with songs filled with drama, passion, romance, and bitterness.
On the other hand, the more up-tempo (‘positive’) genre called Laïkó(later Laïká), it incorporates more international known music styles but they always seem to slip in a typical Greekinstrument or arrangement. For a foreigner, it sometimes is hard to distinguish whether a song is Rembétiko or Laïkó and you probably have to be Greek to hear the difference! ας πάει στην ιστορία μας?
The basis of Greek pop music is the Heptanesian Cantatha, Athenian Cantatha and (aforementioned)Rebetika. The cantatha style was common during the period 1870-1930 where they were performed on the revues and operettas that dominated the Greek theatres. The cantatha culture has a similarity to the cantautore tradition in Italy. These Athenian songs, despite their original connection to a total dramatic work, also achieved to become hits as independent demotic songs.
Rebétiko(ρεμπέτικο) evolved from traditions of the urban poor, such as refugees, drug-users, criminals and itinerants, the earliest musicians were scorned by mainstream society. In 1923, many ethnic Greeks from the Asia Minor in Anatolia fled to Greece as a result of the Greco-Turkish War, many of these immigrants were highly educated, and included songwriter Vangelis Papazoglou and Panayiotis Toundas.
Its popularity increased until embraced by the majority of the working class, reaching its classical period in the 40’s/50’s. The principal instruments of Rebétiko were the bouzouki, baglama, and guitar. The classic songs were distinguished for their power of expression and passion. Within the music style, one can detect the contributions/influence of the folk song, Byzantine chant, and Eastern music.
After the end of WWII and the Greek Civil War, Greece entered a period of relative economic prosperity and the middle class, which had suffered through extreme poverty during the ’40s, began living more comfortably, a fact that was bound to be reflected in its choice of entertainment. These social and economic improvements transformed the music: its themes, structure, and visibility.
Along with the ’50s, two dominant styles for Greek pop became clear. On one hand, you had the Rembétika, a softer more western approach to Rebétiko. On the other, you had Laïkó music, that became the mainstream music of Greece during the coming decades, with love and relationships figuring prominently as key themes.
Let’s go to our artist:
Mimis Plessas was born on 12 October 1924 in Athens. He attended the Lycee Leonin, studied at the Physics Department of the University of Athens and then went to America to pursue his studies. At a young age, he became the first solo piano in Greek Radio. In 1952, it won the first prize of music at the University of Minnesota. He then began working with composition and since 1956 as a conductor and composer.
Its artistic and compositional activity covers the last 50 years, all areas of music: theater, cinema, radio, and television, having to his credit 104 movies and 70 plays (!!). He has conducted numerous major orchestras around the world, such his offer in Paris in 1958, Edinburgh and the U.S. in 1964 and 1965 respectively.
The maestro was also the producer of the historic radio show‘In 30 Seconds’ over the decades of 60’s/70’s. He equally participated in most international and Greek juries of music festivals, artistic events and such. Lastly, Plessas is a member of the Greek Society of Playwrights, Composers and Songwriters, as well as numerous honorifics awards. He is currently retired and lives in Athens.
Let’s go to our album:
In 1967 he released what is often mentioned as ‘the holy grail’ of Greek jazz music. This was a jazz fusion based on Greek traditional folk songs, the outcome was a fresh jazz, beat, psychedelic, funky, samba, bossa nova (!!) orchestration that re-introduced the old material, improvised and suggested a new and very interesting sound.
Originally recorded in 1966 for the needs of an advertising broadcast (‘Fix’ beer!), the 10 tracks of the album are masterfully treated in a modern way by Mimis Plessas and his band, the Orbiters. Playing ultra-loungy, with some fuzzy guitar overtones, they follow a jazzy direction without losing their folk originality!
The ‘IM’ Highlights are for: O Menoussis and Vassilikos. 一路顺风!
Tracks Include (polytonic, romanized and translated):
A1 Λεμονάκι, Lemonaki (Peloponnesian Dance)
A2 Ο Μενούσης, O Menoussis (Dance of Thrace)
A3 Γυαλό Να Πας, Yalo Na Pas (Dance of Zante)
A4 Καραγκούνα, Karagouna (Thessalian Dance)
A5 Καράβι Απ’ Τη Χίο Karavi Ap’ Ti Hio (Dance of Chios)
Kostas Tournas (Κώστας Τουρνάς) born on September 23, 1949, Tripoli, Greece. Aside Mariza Koch andDionysis Savvopoulos, he’s certainly one of the greatest solo artists from its country, with dozens of albums, international recognition, passing through rock, pop, glam, disco, and many other influences; we’ll stick to its foremost concept gem by now. Still active, he’s also a member of the center-right political party New Democracy (sic). A dedicated post for Poll and his other solo classic Astroneirawill appear throughout our galaxy, don’t miss it!
Let’s go to his history:
As a child Kostas enjoyed singing popular Greek melodies of the era, due to financial difficulties, his family eventually moved to Kypseli, Athens, in 1959. He managed to finish high school and in its spare time, he used to study the guitar which he received as a present from his mother. At age 13 he joined his first band. Largely self-educated he took up guitar lessons in 1965, pursuing a more serious musical career, shortly after, he was with a garage band called The Teenagers.
In Athens, Kostas worked at various music clubs, playing melodramatic Italian and French songs which he didn’t enjoy very much. He was a Beatles fan to the point of having watched A Hard Day’s Night seven times in a single day. (!)
He started to write original Greek material at the end of the ’60s in collaboration with his childhood friend Robert Williams. After returning from the army (69/70), Kostas founded Poll, one of the first rock groups of Greece, along with Robert Williams and Stavros Logarides. They started appearing at the popular Athens music club Kyttaro presenting folk-rock songs influenced by the hippie culture.
A second album featured the anti-war song Anthrope Agapa, allegedly the first protest rock-song in Greece. They only existed for two years and managed to release two albums (1971 and 1972). Their easy-listening ballad style made them very popular with Greek audiences. After Poll disbanded, Kostas pursued a solo career.
Let’s go to our album:
In 1972 he released the album Απέραντα Χωράφια(Infinite Fields) based on songs he wrote with Poll but then blown up into a 35-minute (!) psychedelic pop-rock symphonic work which he presented with the group Ruth. This Magnusopus, much influenced by Beethoven, had no distinction into separate tracks, Kostas wrote and arranged it for a symphonic orchestra and provided vocals, guitars, and keyboards himself, as an autobiographical concept album. (!)
With a beautiful resemblance to David Axelrod’s work, Kostas managed to create multiple layers and passages along with the record. Brilliantly played and recorded, it helps us to enter into the greek rock scene, although it hasn’t much folklore or traditional instruments on it, this western rock-opera deserves your full attention!
Our usual highlights become one single track that flows into a rock combo with some fuzz, folk-ballads, sound effects, grand orchestra, and superb outcome. Goeie Reis!
A1 Απέραντα Χωράφια
B1 Απέραντα Χωράφια
Recorded At: Polysound Studio
Record Company: PolyGram
Phonographic Copyright (p): PolyGram Records S.A. (Greece)
Greece. The cradle of modern civilization, an amalgamation of elements of Minoic, Phoenician, Doric, and Ionic cultures that at one time spread from the Caucasus to the Pyrenees via Asia Minor, and from the Crimean to Sicily and the North-African coast. Plato, Xenophon, Homer, Socrates, Pythagoras, Archimedes still live on, in their works, thoughts, and writings. Despite its glorious past, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, Slavs, Bulgarians, Venetians, Crusaders, Serbs, and finally, Turks took it in their turn to occupy Greece for about 1,800 years!
The last Turkish garrison left Athens in March 1833, they managed to stay more or less independent for just over 100 years, when Hitler and Mussolini decided they’d go for a life-long supply of Ouzo (a greek drink) in April 1941. After a good 20 years of turbulent democracy, Greece was back in the hands of the extreme right when the colonels took over on April 21st, 1967, they were to remain in power ’till 1974.
A democratic and republican constitution was promulgated only in June 1975.
The presence of the military junta during the late ’60s and early ’70s has been quite a deterrent, having prevented a musical development concurrent with that of other European countries. To complete the picture, the continued loss of civil rights, widespread censorship, political detentions, and torture, caused countless confrontations and assassination attempts on both sides. In 1969, Costa-Gavras masterpiece Z, was the first attempt to internationalize the message of serious lack of civil rights and its situation. The film was banned from Greece, at the time.
The late ’60s were characterized by political oppression from the authorities and a strong folk movement (oriented by the political left) that sought its identification in the traditional Hellenic roots. A lot of male and female folk singers were known throughout Greece but the outside world remained virtually oblivious to them. Most of the bands that existed back then, however, played only cover versions of English-sung hits and their overall approach was orientated towards light pop and beat. They were called The Rabbits, The Stormies, The Teenagers, The Knacks, etc.
In the very beginning, the most well-known bands were from outside Greece: Aphrodite’s Child and Axis, achieved relative commercial success in France, singing in English, debuting albums, single charts and appearances on TV shows.
Domestically, over the ’70s, bands and artists like, Socrates Drank the Conium, Nostradamus,Akritas, Iraklis, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Manos Hadjidakis, Kostas Tournas, and Pavlos Sidiropoulos, were largely observed, censored or even arrested by the military junta. (!) This is some of the key figures in the national rock scene, ελληνικό ροκ(Greek Rock). Even the term psychedelic is derived from the Ancient Greek, words psuchē(ψυχή – psyche, mind) and dēlōsē(δήλωση – manifest):
Translating to mind-manifesting!
But today we’ll speak of a woman, their achievements and wonderful music.
Let’s go to her history:
Mariza Koch is one of the most renowned Greek singers of all time (together with Fleury Dandonakis). Endowed with a superb voice and a colorful timbre, she’s famous for served the Greek traditional music and been the first to introduce electricsound to folklore. Always working beside poets, such as Sappho, Kostas Varnalis and the Greek poet of the seas Kavvadias; its lyrical depth is one of the aspects, which will always be remembered, her minstrel attitude, the freedom of speech and its political views over one of the heaviest cultural heritages from our history.
Born March 14, 1944, in Athens by a Greek mother and a German father, member of the army occupation, he was executed by the Nazi forces the very year of her birth. Mariza and her sister Eirini grew up in her mother’s native Thera (Santorini).
From four to nine years old, she grew up in an institution, the widowed mother had problems growing two kids and working alongside. This fact develops a strong bond with her work on itself. Nowadays, she established an own record label (Verso Music) destined to folklore/traditional songs from all over Greece and more specifically, music for children. The experimental music center, Movement & Logos Mariza Kochdesigned for experimental music teaching only for children has its own choir, plays, books, and cd releases; this is her flag today, an author and educator.
But let us return to our biography…
The time lived in Santorini, founded the roots of its musical expression: the contact with Byzantine music and insular songs. At age 16, she returned to Athens to take music lessons. There, gained contact with the common wave, it’s performers, and debuts commercially in 1967. Two years later, shares an Lp with Nick Chouliaras, based on folk and traditional songs. The year 1970, in Greece, marks the very birth of greek bands singing in greek, Koch’s album ain’t the original first one, but it’s way thicker than other releases from the time, more distant from original folklore.
Based on several traditional regions of Greece, Arabas saw huge commercial success and led her to a large career on different record labels, through the decades.
Mariza: ‘When I started singing was in the era of dictatorship, the very beginning. I wanted to sing an uncensored version from numerous songs, but they all passed through censorship and I can not say exactly what they wanted. So I chose to sing traditional songs that I love very much and I had grown up with them. So the cry of protest is not like before, I took through the text, through the electric instruments and cover versions of songs that I did. It was my personal revolution.’
Soon established as a premier folk singer in her country, instructed by Manos Hadjidakis, she took part in the Eurovision Song1976 contest, held in Hague, with the song Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou, written by herself, in protest by the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. The coup within the coupled more than 5,000 dead and wounded on and off the isle. (!) The song ends up in 13th place, but its performance, transmitted live through Europe, unleashes her success worldwide.
From that point, she traveled around the globe singing in greatest theaters and recognized music festivals in Western Europe, Russia, Canada, USA, Latin America, Australia, India, Middle East, and Africa as an ambassador of Greek traditional music. Dozens of albums were launched, and over time its aesthetic transformations changed the main proposal of its career: original folklore, from the past with traditional instruments formations (lyres, flutes, and Cretan lyras).
Let’s go to our record:
Today’s record is a bit different, this is for all those who do not resist an acoustic side with strong connections to the traditional folklore.You all will be pleased with a blessedvoice, a tuned backing band (bass, drums, guitar, keyboards) and all these beautiful songs and instruments from the Mediterranean!
Mariza’s unique vocals became the centerpiece of the music, which one, more than one occasion needed no accompaniment. Indeed, it’s first solo forayArabas(Αραμπάς),released in 1971, wasa step forward on a greek musical constellation, the first gold album (50.000) in its history! An almost rock album with traditional blends, heavy drums, swing guitar, light fuzz, breakbeats, led by a powerfulfemale voice, who was also a sharp musician and composer, something unusual for the time!
Mariza: ‘Nothing is difficult if it comes from your truth. The difficulties aren’t that will run, as long as it will go, how they establish what you have inside you. For me, it was not difficult this blend, these traditional covers. This sounds like to give and I’m fortunate that he loved and fell in a good time when the audience of my generation understood what was needed. It was a model that was presented as a personal need.’
The ‘IM’ highlights are Arabas (Αραμπάς), a mysterious lute introduction unravels a psych melody with hard percussion pace, eerie organs and sweet rhythm guitar, like many others of the album, none of its songs overlaps 4 minutes! And: Smyrna Dance(Σμυρνέϊκος Χορός), an instrumental one, apropos, the unique in that feel on all record, by the way, Smyrna is an ancient city located on the coast of Anatolia, showing us how Greek and Turkish culture can merge, despite the old cultural brawl.
On the back cover, Mariza writes: ‘I started with the desire to keep up with the evolution of our time carrying through my experiences, which are directly associated with the traditional song. So I began an effort to the contemporary expression of traditional song, encouraged by the fact that it always transformed into the tradition.’
Here’s a TV appearance, from 1973, where she sings in a psychedelic scenario, and on its final seconds, her brilliant hippy political view.