Saturday, July 17, 2010

V.A.- Shakin' in Athens : The Story Of The Rock'n'Roll Underground (Greece)

The emergence of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and other groups from the British Invasion era of the 60’s, gave the opportunity to many youngsters all around the world to start forming their own groups, trying to leave their dream.
Greece wasn’t the exception, and the first groups started to assemble together around 1963, started to appear in night clubs with live-dance performances, and in 1964 they started their first recordings. In their live performances their material included English, Italian and French songs and their first recordings were also in these languages.

The peak was between 1966-67 where hundreds of groups had been formed, and its neighborhood claimed to have its own group. Their equipment was not always the best one but their enthusiasm was great and there were playing in parties, school dances, morning recitals, and even battles of groups. Around this time they have started singing and writing in the Greek language and the whole movement went to a decline around 1969-1970 as many groups were disbanded due to military obligations and the rise the political song against the dictatorship.
Here are 16 tracks representative of Shakin’ in Athens most in English and most of them with Original Material:
1. The Knacks – Devil Girl: an Athenian group with very young members which recorded a few 45s within what had been later called as Garage Music. This song must have been recorded after 1967 and is a purely a punkish tune with fast and slow pace (one of the best recorded in Greece during the 60e and not only)
2. Zoo – Go: and English group with a short lived career in the Athenian scene. Most probably the came for vacation and decided to prolong their stay by playing in Night Clubs. They recorded 2 or 3 45s and this one is can be characterized as folk-garage with nice harmonies and a very nice guitar solo break
3. Idols-Wanted by the law: Idols were one of the most famous Greek groups in the 60s. Their career began in 1964 and ended in the beginning of the 70s. They have recorded some fantastic 45s in English but sadly at the end of the decade and due to commercial reasons they turned their repertoire into covering lame hits in Greek. The Idols was a group with many changes in its members, the most famous of them was Demis Roussos as a bass player. Anyway they had some fantastic moments like this song who is calling you straight away to the dance floor for shake (pay attention to the fine arrangements of the organ and the slightly fuzzed guitar)
4. The Crowns- You’re my only love: This group was not so popular and their appearances were in a few Night Clubs and Morning Recitals (live shows in Sunday mornings). Their most famous recording was the Troggs Wild Thing which was dominated by the organ sound being slower than the original with some insane screaming. This song here has a nice catchy tune with a very discrete guitar solo on the back sound.
5. Idols-He’s the one: Another original song showing the powerful use of the farfrisa organ. Idols used to have a piano and a farfrisa player at the same tine as well !!!!
6. New Hopes- I found a love (Vrika mia agapi): This groups was formed around late 1967 in Pireas ( Athens Port ), they recorded a few succesull 45s, and all of their material was in Greek. In my opinion this is considered to be their best one with a punkudelic feeling and a fast rhythm (what a shame that this song is not in English)
7. Blue Birds-Just Remember: Blue Birds were formed in Pireas as well and they were quite popular as they cut a lot successful 45s. They were one of the most long lived groups as they split in 1973-1974, they had many changes in their members. During their career in the 60s they were solely singing in English and during the 70s they turned to the Greek language singing religious rock. This song has very nice vocals (G. Petridis was a very good singer), and a positive happy tune and very nice organ. A really nice song !!!!
8. Vikings- I am trying: Vikings were formed in 1966-67 and their biggest hit was the slow Francoise which was quite popular at the parties of its era. The most famous member of the Vikings was Antonis Vardis which has followed a very successful career as a composer and a singer in the Greek music. This is a moody song which has shakin’ feeling but in a slower way. The sound of the guitar break is quite unique and quite peculiar (would say that is influenced by eastern sounds and looks like a weep)
9. Olympians-Hopeless endless way: Olympians are considered to be the most successful Greek group of the 60s. They were formed in Thessaloniki and they were very popular all over Greece by selling tens of thousands of records with their biggest hits O Tropos (the way) and To Sholeio (the school). Their lead singer and bassist, Pashalis, after the group was disbanded followed a successful career in the what so called Greek Pop. This song was recorded in 1967 and is a real garage-psychedelic one with the right proportion of organ and guitar (even a saxophone was used) and has been included in many compilations and has been recorded by other groups as well.
10. Zoo-Six miles from the cage: A folkish-garage one by the English group with the sort career in Greece
11. Juniors-Miss blue jeans: Juniors were one of the best groups in the middle of the decade with the most “English” sound. But unfortunately were one of the most unfortunate ones, as at the peak of their career in 1966, a car accident caused the death of their manager, their leader Thanos Sogioul (bassist) and the serious injury of their guitarist Alekos Karakantas, which lead to their disbanded after a while. This was the time when Eric Clapton replaced him for a few live appearances!!!!!!! Eric Clapton had left Yoardbirds for good and was in Athens with an amateurish Group and The Juniors who were in a need for guitarist proposed him to play with them for a few appearances. If they only knew!!!!!!! Miss Blue Jeans is my favourite ever song from a Greek 60s groups as it is totally inside in 1966. Nice harmonies, nice melody, fantastic farfrisa and guitar break. This song has it all !!!! It is purely Shakin’1966!!!!
12. Phoenix-Senza Amore: This song is in Italian language as there were some groups who were singing and recorded songs in Italian. Phoenix (Foinikes) played live in many Night Clubs and also had sang in Greek and were formed in 1967 and most famous member was the composer Stamatis Ganossellis. This is a donwtempo song with an interesting organ solo break and nice vocal harmonies.
13. Uptight-I love you (Min Fevgeis): This is the second song in the Greek language in this compilation. Uptight were formed in Thessaloniki and were quite popular there. They played in many Night Clubs, they recorded a few 45s but it said that their recordings could not reveal the excellence of energy of their live appearnces as they were covering a wide range of songs (including soul covers as well). This song is the cover of the original Zombies one. Zombies released it in 1965, while The Uptight released it at the end of the decade. Nice cover though, really worth digging it.
14. Nelli Manou-Crazy Girl: The Shakiest Greek Pop Song from the 60s ever!!!!!! There are not many things to say as there is no breath as your feet are moving in the dance floor!!!!! This song was originally released in 1967 by Nelli Manou (composer the famous Greek composer Mimis Plessas) and later was released by Aleka Kanellidou as well. The song was one of the main themes of the Greek Musical Comedy “Oi thalassies oi handres” (The blue beads), and was about the love of a young rich ye-ye girl and a bouzouki player….
15. Blue Birds-Sweet Polly: An original by the Blue Birds from 1965, a fantastic song which could be among the others in the garage hall of fame
16. Charms-It’s my life: Charms were one of the most famous Greek groups in the 60s. Their career began in 1964 and ended in the beginning of the 70s. They have recorded some fantastic 45s in English but sadly at the end of the decade and due to commercial reasons they turned their repertoire into covering lame hits in Greek (like the Idols). This one is not one of their most powerful ones and it is the cover of the Animals original. It is a very interesting cover though, as it wasn’t released long after the Animals release and has a different and more soft approach to its original. ~ Info from    Thanks
01 – Knacks – Devil Doll
02 – Zoo – Go
03 – Idols – Wanted By The Law
04 – Crowns – You’re My Only Love
05 – Idols – He’s The One
06 – New Hopes – I Found a Love
07 – Bluebirds – Just Remember
08 – Vikings – I’m Trying
09 – Olympians – Hopeless Endless Ways
10 – Zoo – Six Miles From The Cage
11 – Juniors – Miss Blue Jeans
12 – Phoenix – Senza Amore
13 – Uptight – I Love You
14 – Nelli Manou – Crazy Girl
15 – Bluebirds – Sweet Polly
16 – Charms – It’s My Life

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