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World Music Picture Archives

Easr and Eye

CD Rembetika CD
Michalis Jenitsaris

The Greek underworld: drugs, alcohol, unrequited love. All human life is there. Asia Minor blues from the sleazy dives of Piraeus. Raw, uncompromising, vibrant. This album contains the best of rembetika. One of the last surviving composer-performers from the early days of Rembetika appears live with singer Maria Nalbandi and the group Prosekhos.

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Rembetika -


Twenty years after the huge success of 'Five Greeks in Hell', Trikont's first Rembetika compilation, comes a new CD of early, rare and uncensored recordings from the seedy underbelly of Greek culture, featuring such legendary singers of the old Rembetika style as Anestis Delias, Markos Vamvakaris, Jovan Tsaous, Jorgos Batis, Jorgos Katsaros, and many others.Rembetika is to Greece what Flamenco is to Spain, Fado to Portugal and Tango to Argentina. It originated during the late 19th century, becoming the folk music of the cities, sung by the social outcast, the criminal and the dispossessed, the so-called "rembetes" and "manges", in the illegal hashish taverns of the urban underground. Hard gut-wrenching songs of passion, drugs, jail, disease and death. The blues of the Greek peninsular.

"Mangas - one who scorns straight society and its conventions. A Mangas newer walks hand in hand with his girlfriend, doesn't wear a tie or a collar, never carries an umbrella ... smokes dope, helps the weak and shuns work." A colourful fringe of Greek life in the 1930s, the Mangas (or Rembetis) sparked a glorious outpouring of moody, blues-like songs: an old, working class repertoire now revived to fresh appreciation in Greece itself. Trikont's double CD offers 45 songs from the 1930s, lovingly compiled by Christos Davidopoulos. In a perfect mix of Asiatic modes and European songforms, bowed lyra and plucked lauto (the bouzouki hadn't caught on yet) accompany Rosa Eskenazi, Markos Vamvakaris, Anestis Delias and other classic singers through tales of heroin's ravages, the misery of tuberculosis and tussles with the police. A pickpocket pleads "Officer, don't hit us, we're only doing our job."

No drums, but these slow, off-kilter rhthms carry enormous weight, as the Mangas, his hat tilted over red eyes, dances alone across the taverna floor".

Clive Bell, The Wire

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