jump to navigation

Music > Sounds of Greece July 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.

A plate of moussaka, a bottle of retsina and the relentless strumming of Zorba the Greek on the taverna tape…Greece suffers from a clichéd image that obscures some of the most distinctive music in the Mediterranean.

Rebetika, the “urban blues” that was sung and played in the cafés and hashish joints of Piraeus, had its heyday when thousands of Greeks expelled from Turkey arrived at the end of the Greco-Turkish war in 1922. This heartfelt, powerful music was banned by the Metaxas dictatorship in 1936 and, despite periodic revivals, it has never been matched since.

That said, several of today’s most popular singers, such as Yiorgos (George) Dalaras, Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Melina Kana, come from rebetika backgrounds. The country also retains some strong folk traditions in the more remote parts of the mainland and less visited islands.

Greek labels have been good at documenting this music and reissuing archival rebetika, but many of the best albums of contemporary performers are on German labels, they don’t just get to the beach first.

Essential listening

Greece Is. Popular and Folk Dances
(EMI Greece 05570007)
Top-quality, taverna plate-smashing music, including the infamous Zorba syrtaki dance by Mikis Theodorakis.

Greek-Oriental Rebetika
(Arhoolie CD 7005)
Excellent compilation of tracks from 1911 to 1937 featuring all the essential names and good notes.

Loudovikos ton Anoyíon: The Colours of Love
(Network 34 209)
Haunting songs from a Cretan soft-voiced singer. This CD is available from Amazon.co.uk. 

Lesbos Aiolis – Tunes and Songs of Lesbos
(Crete University Press CUP 9-10)
Rich recordings from the Aegean island of Lesbos made between 1974 and 1996. One of the best collections of traditional music from anywhere, this comprises two CDs and a comprehensive book.

Songs of Greece’s Gypsies
(FM Records FM 322)
A compelling reminder that, as elsewhere in the Balkans, the gipsies have been a significant force in Greece’s music.

Eleftheria Arvanitaki: The Very Best of 1989-1998
(Emarcy/Universal Greece 558 636-2)
One of the great voices of the Mediterranean. Currently Greece’s biggest name on the World Music scene. Click to order a copy from Amazon.co.uk.

Petro-Loukas Chalkias and Kompania
(Network 32 376)
Fine clarinettist from Epirus in the north-west with a trad band of violin, lute and frame drum.

George Dalaras: A Portrait
(EMI Hemisphere)
A sampler spanning the career of the country’s best balladeer and pop musician in live and studio recordings. Click to order a copy from Amazon.co.uk.

Ross Daly: Selected Works
(Oriente RIENCD01)
An English-born Irishman who has become a leading player of the Cretan lyra (bowed fiddle) and one of the best exponents of the island’s music. Click to order a copy from Amazon.co.uk

Melina Kana: Portrait
(Network 35 404)
A strong, seductive voice from Thessaloniki. One of Greece’s younger vocal stars. Click  to order a copy from Amazon.co.uk.


1. Gina - July 16, 2006

Where can I find the lyrics for the CD Songs of Greece’s Gipsies?

2. grhomeboy - July 16, 2006

Welcome Gina!

Have you done any google search? In case you did but no luck I suggest the best way is to contact FM Records. Here is the info >


e-mail: info@fmrecords.net


e-mail: info@musical.gr

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: