The Rough Guide to Rebetika

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: World Music Network
PERFORMER: Various artists
CATALOGUE NO: RGNET 1142 CD

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Rebetika is a strikingly Middle Eastern-sounding genre that flourished in Greece until the mid-20th century, when the poverty of the refugee-packed ports began to lift. More recently it has drawn the attentions of revivalists, though as the Rough Guide survey suggests in a mixture of old and recent tracks, not yet modernisers.

Instruments include the oud (middle Eastern lute) as well as the bouzouki, and the vocal ornaments are often quite Arabic, as with the intense performances of Andonis Dhiamandidhis and Rita Zbatzi.

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Curiously, Zbatzi is featured in one song in favour of hashish and another that scorns it along with the musical instruments associated with it (that means giving up the bouzouki for the hammer dulcimer).