November 14, 2005 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Hash dens and bouzoukis and raki, oh my! Recommend me some great, old rembetika.

I used to have an album with some modern recordings of songs by Vasilis Tsitsanis, and an instrumental at the end played by the man himself, which I thought was by far the best—the other songs were more smooth-sounding. My understanding is that it was much rougher-edged than that disc (can't recall what it was called) let on.
posted by kenko to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tsitsanis is the linking figure between the older Rebetika and the more modern,popular style "Laiki" style - Rebetika usually uses the three string bouzouki or djura,while the four-string is pretty much a post WWII axe.

Vamvakaris. Batis. Papaioannou.

Related,but equally hashish soaked is the Smyrnaica genre - songs dating from the era of Greek life in Turkey, especially Izmir. Essentially it is Turkish urban music played on oud, kanun, and violin with a woman singer, such as Roza Ashkenazi or Rita Abatzis, both of whom were Jewish, in fact.

Far too much good info, history etc at the Hydra Rebetika Conference site - got to the reports down on the page.

Rounder Records has some good reissues of the old stuff.

The 1983 Greek film "Rembetiko" will blow your kefi wide open. An amazing film made using unkown actors and surviving old rebetika musicians, it became a huge hit and can often be bought or rented at greek gift/book shops in the US. The soundtrack stands alone as one of the best examples of rebetika revival, too.
posted by zaelic at 6:50 AM on November 15, 2005

zaelic-You're awesome with these kinds of questions. Thanks for your answer about fiddle styles the other day.
posted by OmieWise at 7:04 AM on November 15, 2005

Sophia Bilides sings classic rembetika. Haven't heard the cd, but she's a great performer.
posted by theora55 at 7:15 AM on November 15, 2005

Wow. I was going to do a pale, denatured version of zaelic's comment, but now I can just say: what zaelic said.
*fondles collection of old rembetika records he picked up in Athens many years ago*
posted by languagehat at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2005

zaelic's answer rocks.*

Also check out Mourmourika: Songs of the Greek Underworld on Rounder for some gangsta stuff. One minor nitpick is that the translations sometimes bypass interesting colorful idiom. Still, the CD is a good illustration of just how hard core some of these dawgs claimed to be (think G.W.A. or Ice-Tau.)

*Einai mangas, einai meraklis!
posted by Opposite George at 4:45 PM on November 15, 2005

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