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Sunday, June 30, 2002 Options
Music from Greece and beyond

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This Week's Playlist (compiled by George Sempepos):

Credits in this sequence: Artist, Title, Source, year released, comment.

1.Bob Azzam Et Son Orchestre, "Mustapha", 45 vinyl French pressing from Greece, 1960;
This Middle-Eastern novelty song (sung in French/North African patois) was a big European hit (#1 in Belgium and #23 in the UK) and evidently sold well in Greece, because it sneaked into the repertoire of corny Greek bouzouki bands. Jonathan Richman covered this tune on a 1994 single. Azzam, who may have been Lebanese, went on to international instrumental producer/bandleader fame, recording obscure LPs now prized by breakbeat collectors. Azzam's follow-up hit was "Fais-moi du couscous, cherie".

2. Mode Plagal, "Blazing Sun"("Dala Ilios"), Mode Plagal II; Lyra ML 0668, 1998
At the close of their 2nd CD, Greece's leading folk-fusion-jazz-rock-funksters have some fun channeling the spirit of an actual Greek cruise ship emcee (in the Caribbean) running down the evening's entertainment for his tourist audience. Opa!

3. Kristi Stassinopoulou; "Tin Kardia'm Tin Kleithomeni"("My Locked Heart"), Greek CD "Ifantokosmos" ("Woven-World");
A sprightly 6/8 time traditional tune from the repertoire of Greeks who used to live in what is now Bulgarian Thrace, this appeared on the 1997 album that set Kristi off on a "world-music/folk-rock" path.

4. Muharrem Ahmeti & Nezir Voka, Untitled (cut # 1), from CD "Kenge Dasmash- Live", Albanian Gypsy pop music, on the Euroliza label, more info (maybe) from
this Michigan distributor: Malow, tel. 810 254 5534 . Amazing synth sound; Mouse On Mars should apprentice themselves to these guys.

5. Trifon Pazarenzis, "Kateva Lefko", from the Greek CD, Radio FM Naousa: Traditional Music Of Naousa and Surrounding Area" FMNA 12201
Pazarenzis plays zourna, the double-reed shawm heard in old-timey Greek and Turkish village wedding music, accompanied by accordion and saxophone, which is a bit unusual, and the hand-drum called a daouli. Naousa is in Greek Macedonia. Zourna-and-drum is I think the original party music for Wild and Crazy Guys.

6. Petroloukas Halkias(Clarinet) Rakesh Chaurasia (bamboo flute) Shubankar Banerjee(tabla) "Antamoma-Den Poro Manoula" adaptation, (track 4), from the Greek CD on the Saraswati label (SARA001), "Ellines Kai Indoi [Greeks And Indians]Vol. 1" , recorded live in Larissa, Greece 1999.
The tune is a "Sta Dhio"["Two-Step"] dance from the Epirotika tradition of Northern Greece; the pentatonic mode that clarinetist Halkias plays is echoed by flautist Chausaria playing in the Bhupali raga, at least according to the notes to this fascinating and fun attempt at cross-cultural fusion, with master pan-cultural musician Ross Daly collaborating on some cuts. Greek folk music of the sort Halkias plays is often showcased by Greek Gypsies, who in turn revere their Indian roots; so this collaboration is not so far-fetched.

7. Stratos Kyprios, "O Ouranos An Gremisti"[If The Sky Should Fall"], from the Greek double-CD compilation-reissue "Ta Indoprepi", Music Box International MBI 10629/30set
An example of circa-1960 Greek bouzouki balladry inspired by songs from Indian filmi such as "Mother India" (which broke box-office records in Greece under the title "Earth Watered by Sweat"). The melodies and rhythms of this genre ended up permanently influencing succeeding styles of Greek indigenous pop (what is called "Laika").

8. Mode Plagal, "Deli Papas (Papa-Yiorghis)", Mode Plagal III
The hottest traditional-influenced rock cut to come out of modern Greece yet!
(Not counting Annabouboula, who never recorded in Greece anyway)
Featuring guest lead vocal by traditional singer Yiota Vei; the moody-but-dignified, martial feel of the Epirus style is given an amazing Afro-funk 6/8 facelift in this rocking track off the most recent Plagal CD. These guys deserve to be heard.

9. Hirut Begele [backed by Police Orchestra] , "Man Yawgal Yebeten" ("What Do You Know About My Private Life?") from Ethiopiques Vol. 3
From Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1975 comes this swingin' 6/8 cut, with a groove uncannily similar to the previous Mode Plagal selection.

10. Yiota Vei, "As Pan Na Dhoun Ta Matia Mou" from Oi Megales Kyries Tou Dimotikou Tragoudiou" ("The Great Ladies of Demotika Song: Yiota Vei") General Music (Greece) GM 5111
The folk singer of "Deli Papas" in a more traditional setting.

11. Mode Plagal "Emena Mou T'apan Ta Poulia" ("The Birds Told Me"), from Mode Plagal III
A tsamiko, the lilting _-time dance from mainland Greece, sung most soulfully by group sax-man Thodoris Rellos on top of a brilliant re-figuring of the folk chord progression as a very cool 7-bar blues.

12. Mogollar "Dum-Tekka", private collection
This very troglodyte-pop slab of Turkish rock-folk fusion most likely comes from one of Mogollar's 1970s releases.

13. Kristi Stassinopoulou "Trigona"("Turtledove"), Echotropia (This record is available in the US!)
Another Epirus traditional classic; Kristi and company ably recreate the spooky close-interval harmonies of the original tune.

14. Dionysis Savopoulos, "San Ton Karagiozi", from the LP "Deka Hronia Komatia" ("Ten Years' Pieces") 1976
Where to begin with Savopoulos, the "Bob Dylan Of Greece"?? This tune was a self-referential parody/tribute to the interstitial music of the Greek "Karagiozi" Shadow-puppet theater and it ended up being a signature tune for this eccentric, mad-genius, singer-songwriter/poet extaordinaire.

15. Dionysis Savopoulos "Dir La Da". From the 1969 LP "To Perivoli Tou Trellou" (The Madman's Garden")
This tongue-in-cheek hipster adaptation of a traditional children's song-with odd, allusive lyrics referencing various aspects of modern Greek history and folklore--was maybe Savopoulos' biggest "hit"-at any rate, it inspired non-Greek cover versions and became a kind of early-70s Greek tourist anthem.

16. Les G.O. Culture "Le Dirlada Des Bronzes (Original Version) Adapted From 'Dirlada'"
A Greek/French disco 12-inch from the late '90s, proving the enduring popularity of that Dir La Da thang.

17. Haji Mike "Maro Maria" from "Aphrodite's Dream" CD, 1997
UK/Greek Cypriot "Vragga-muffin" deejay/rapper/producer tells sad Greeklish tale of bride who runs off with the best man and household-appliances-part of the dowry- It's okay, the groom is left with most of the money.

18. Dionysis Savopoulos "Angelos Exangelos" from "To Xenodohheio" ("The Hotel")
A Greek free translation of Bob Dylan's "The Wicked Messenger"; Savopoulos also famously covered "All Along The Watchtower"; when he does Dylan, he sort of re-imagines the lyrics from a Greek poetic and folkloric perspective. This is from a strange 1997 CD of covers of people like Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Talking Heads, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jethro Tull(!).

19. Baris Manco and Kaygislar "Trip" from "26 Turkish Beat, Psych & Garage Delights" on Grey Past Records (Netherlands)
A 1968 acid-garage-rock masterpiece from the late great Turkish rocker Baris Manco. A different version appears on the U.S. compilation "Hava Narghile ­Turkish Rock Music 1966 to 1975". Of course, '60s garage bands sounded very different in countries where there were no U.S.-style suburban garages for bratty teenagers to practice in, but that is what keeps us World Music types whirling like dervishes.

20. Blue Birds "A New Idy" from "Elliniki Rock Skini [Greek Rock Scene] Vol .4 ­1968"
One of the longest-lasting groups of the early days of Greek rock, the Blue Birds generally steered in the direction of what I call "Aegean Sunshine Pop", sort of Southern California bubblegum-gone-Mediterranean-hippie, a style perfected and never surpassed by Poll (see below). Dig the Mamas And Papas harmonies and almost-English lyrics.

21. Savopoulos, "S'efharisto, O! Eteria" (I Thank You, Oh Corporation!") from the LP "Ballos" 1971
The haunting closing track from a very Zappa-esque but also traditional-music-influenced LP, one of a series of Savopoulos recordings made when he and his "Greek Rock" cohorts were being hounded by a repressive military dictatorship (with CIA backing, of course); The direction he pioneered was analogous to the "Tropicalia" scene in Brazil occurring at roughly the same time and under similar circumstances.

22. Kristi Stassinopoulou "Mono I Agapi Meni" ("Only Love Remains")
From her recent (and US-released) CD Echotropia, an original co-written- as most of her material is- with her partner, multi-instrumentalist and producer Stathis Kaliviotes.
Check out her news at

23. Poll "Anthope Agapa" ("People, Start Lovin'!") from LP compilation "Ta Oraiotera Tragoudia Ton POLL" ["POLL's Loveliest Songs"]
Hippie Love-Rock from the Greek underground- it may be hard to believe, but stuff like this was pretty subversive in 1972, when it won the hearts of middle-class Athens youth chafing under the medieval strictures of the Colonels' Junta, which was busy banning ancient Greek tragedies they considered too risqué, even as they opened their gates to foreign long-haired tourists bearing Incredible String Band records, which, merging with the saccharine tunefulness of Hadzithakis and Theodorakis, resulted in this masterpiece of Aegean Sunshine Pop.

24. Noe, "Ilios Anateli" ["The Sun Rises"], from Ellininki Rock Skini Vol. 9
On this circa-1974 single, the sunshine-pop begins to resemble Stories-ish '70s power pop. The dictatorship is on its last legs; as Greek hippies trade Clapton licks, a rebetika revival is in the wings.

Mavi Isiklar "Ask Cicegi" ("Send Me A Postcard"- Shocking Blue) from "26 Turkish Beat, Psych & Garage Delights" on Grey Past Records (Netherlands)-1971
To quote Turkish collector and annotator Gokhan Aya: "Mavi Isiklar managed to sell thousand of records one after the other and be loved even in conservative Anatolian towns" They covered Paul Revere And The Raiders elsewhere, but here they unmask the innate Oriental feeling in Shocking Blue's Dutch power-pop original.

26. Sincron "Pe Linga Plopii Far Sot" , Romania ca. 1964 from "Surfbeat Behind The Iron Curtain" Archive International Productions, AIPCD 1057
Romanian Shadows imitators. Lounge-rock and surf instrumental groups like this were a major '60s subgenre in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. If we had time, we would have featured more Greek and Turkish examples.

27. Annabouboula "Zito To Proto Maghio" ("Mayday"), unreleased demo.
(Sempepos-Lawrence- Megali Idea Music, BMI)
Inspired by surf music, rebetika and Mediterranean lounge rock, Annabouboula here make a multi-layered pun matching the old Greek Communist slogan, "Long Live Mayday" with a phrase that translates to "Long Live The First Bathing Suit"; the intent is to anthemize decadent Greek youthhey workers of the world, summer means fun!
From a forthcoming (any century now) CD

28. (OUTRO MUSIC BED) Dionysis Savopoulos, "Dialima" ["Intermission"] from
the score to the Pantelis Voulgaris film "Happy Day" 1972.

Unfortunately, the only tracks currently available in the US are two from Kristy Stassinopoulou’s excellent “Echotropia” on Tinder Records. Some of others may be obtainable as imports, with lots of luck.

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