by Tony Klein
An account of a CD of historic rebetiko recordings about to be published in 2005
A Short History:
My musical life began with hearing 78s in my late 40s early 50s childhood Caruso, Kreisler etc. My Greek musical life began in 1973 with, among other music, the first Greek LP reissue of Markos 78s 'Afieroma', and shortly after, the 6 Rebetiki Istoria LPs. And I studied with Keromites 1975-6.
Acquiring internet 5 years ago and going through my lifetime backlog of unanswered questions, I asked "Who the h-ll was Jack Halikias the man who transformed my idea of bouzouki in 1975 and of whom virtually nothing is known?'" My searches led me to a series of exchanges with Halikias' son, to Dick Spottswood, and thither to Charlie Howard with whom I became very friendly.
Through Charlie, and the 14 CDs he had already compiled, I became even more interested in the question of retrieving optimal sound quality from 78s.
When Charlie had a compilation ready remastered by Ted Kendall, disciple of John R.T. Davies, doyen of 78 rpm sound conservers/retrievers, and was looking for a home for it, I finally took the plunge and undertook to see to its release. It is being released on a small independent label run by Den Flygande Bokrullen ('The Flying Scroll') an Uppsala Klezmer band with whom I have played on and off the last 10 years.
Mortika contains, as you see by the track list, a varied set of mainly 20s & 30s recordings of both Piraeus and Asia Minor style songs. The A-side of the first bouzouki solo record, Halikias' s "To Mysterio", is heard in its complete form here, for the first time since 78 reissues of this music began the inferior version on the 1977 Columbia LP CBS 82290 was clearly 'doctored' from a disc with an unplayable beginning and here it is to be heard with unbelievably good sound. The Spahanis track on Mortika is the flip side of the very first recording with bouzouki made in Greece, in c 1931 the player mentioned by both Markos and Keromites, Yorgos Manetas is to be heard, from the only known copy of the disc. (The other side is on Rounder's Mourmourika CD). Sotiris Gavalas 'Memetis', known for penning many songs, sings himself on a rare and well preserved disc. The two Markos songs are heard in better condition than on any previous releases.
MORTIKA Rare Vintage Recordings From A Greek Underworld
01 To Mistirio Ioannis Halikias "Jack Gregory" (instrumental)
02 Erhome To Tiho Tiho Giorgios Katsaros
03 Kale Mana Dhen Boro Spahanis
04 Dou Dou Andonis Dhiamandidhis "Dalgas"
05 To Dhahtiri Frangiskos Zouridhakis
06 To Toust Harilaos Kritikos
07 Haramisa Ta Niata Mou Kostas Roukounas
08 O Isovitis Markos Vamvakaris
09 O Bohoris Andonis Amiralis "Papadzis" (instrumental)
10 Touto To Kalokeraki K Kostis
11 Dhervisis Marika Papagika
12 I Hasiklidhes Pol-Meraklis
13 Mes' Stou Tzambikou Ton Teke Rita Abadzi
14 Mortissa Hasiklou Markos Vamvakaris
15 Iroοni Ke Mavraki Stellakis Perpiniadhis
16 Xeftilis Ioannis Halikias '"Jack Gregory" (instrumental)
17 Stou Bezesteni Tin Avli Sotiris Ghavalas
18 Kapnouloudhes Dhimitris Gogos "Bayenderas"
19 I Avandes Tou Sofer Andonis Dhiamandidhis "Dalgas"
20 Dhervisaki Giorgios Katsaros
21 Kato Ap' Ti Skala Tou Papa Nikos Vrahnas
Hydra Rebetiko Conference
13-17 October 2005