Cherry Red Album Reviews – Mar 2015 by Scenester

Demis Roussos

On The Greek Side Of My Mind (RPM Retro 915)

Continuing their policy of making available albums which inspired, entertained and even did a tidy bit of business in their day, those discerning folk at RPM have turned their attention to the first solo LP by Demis Roussos. Recorded whilst still a member of prog-rock legends Aphrodite’s Child, Demis’ concept LP, released in 1971, explores his roots, both musical and familial, blending the styles and rhythms of Greek folk music with those of psychedelic rock, enriching the stew with orchestral arrangements and overlaid with Demis’ slightly eerie high register singing, a voice which would propel him to superstardom in the mid 70’s.

Opening with sublime Gregorian chanting and Demis’ spoken word vocal, the LP’s title track is a meditation on the rich and ancient culture of his home country, and an invitation to join him.

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‘She Came Up From The North’s military-like drum rhythm and  gentle lute and guitar picking suit this lament perfectly, but it serves as an early warning to expect the unexpected, as the song quickly builds into a psyche horn and drum wig-out.

‘Good Days Have Gone’ must have sounded a little anachronistic by release, a fairly typical ‘Swingin’ London’ tune, replete with ‘la la la’s, although admittedly enjoyable and commercial. ‘We Shall Dance’ has a sharp Europop feel,  a psyche organ sound with a twang to the notes, and a little tingling harpsichord, one of the LP’s more upbeat tracks, with perhaps a nod to his future light music career.

‘I Know I’ll Do It Again’s wistful childhood reminiscing comes in all urgently, then turns into a pedestrian beat as the sweetheart is recalled fondly. The abruptness of the end will have you guessing why, but not for long. ‘Fire and Ice’s mystical imagery is realised by the deft use of lapping harpsicord, hollow, bone-like horns and drums, setting up the polarity that drives this track. The song’s primacy would be celebrated on the LP’s British release, which was re-entitled ‘Fire and Ice’ in
its honour.

‘End of the Line’s folksy atmosphere is evoked well with acoustic guitar and voices that build to a pleasant lead out, a refreshingly simple track that makes no demands on the listener. It isn’t long before the listener is shaken out of torpor by ‘My Blue Ship’s A-Sailin’, effortlessly moving between lament and jaunty, exuberant celebration, then back again. ‘Mountains Beyond’s dolorous beginning leads us into the story of a journey through changing rhythms, building to a happier state of mind in the twists and turns of the tune.

‘My Friends You’ve Been Untrue To Me’ has a commanding guitar, shrieking its way through a song of anger and regret, horns blaring their disapproval, and is a robust standout. ‘Lord of the Flies’ has an exuberant ‘Hair’ style intro that turns into a great, sprawling lament that could have been a single. ‘Without You’s bird-like voice intro, harpsichord and piano backing and tense violin make for a lament which is a perfect end to the LP.

Demis’ lengthy and varied career has often been overlooked as a result of his success in light ‘supper club’ pop music, and his namechecking in 70’s naff-fest ‘Abigail’s Party’ seemed to set the seal on a completely false image of him. There’s more to this Egyptian-born Greek superstar than meets the eye, as a listen to this solo LP will attest. BUY HERE!



Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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