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Marika Ninou - I hrisi epohi tou laikou tragoudiou [Lyra - 1990]

The dominant tradtion of Greece in the last 100 years has been rembetika. Originally the music of outcasts of society, gangsters and hookers and not seldomly singing about weed. In a sense is gangsta rap, even to the extent that it has grown the popular representative music of the country, despite its less glorious background.

Marika Ninou is one of the representatives of the popularized rembetika called ‘laiko’. Until 1951 she formed a duo with the legendary ‘O.G.’ of rembetika Vassilis Tsitsanis, which makes her special in the post-rembetika scene. After the split she moved to the USA, but that didn’t last long, as she was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died from that in 1957 at the young age of 38 years.

Marika possesses a beautiful voice, technically beautiful and full with drama which works great with the music which is firmly based in the historic rembetika. These recordings seem from 1940’s and 1950’s so the soundquality is much better than those original recordings that mostly come from 78 rpm records. The instruments used are acoustic guitar, bouzouki, baglama, accordeon and some percussion. The collection of songs features many duets with male voices that work wonderful together with Ninou’s wonderful and elegant voice, like in Φυγε Φυγε. Uptempo songs like Παραπονιαρικο and Τσιγγανα Μου are sweet but the really impressive songs are the slow ballads, often in the dragging 9/4 rhythm of the zeibekiko. For instance Πεσ Μου Αν Με Βαρεθηκεσ. Another very impressive song Παμε Στα Μπουζουκια, opens with a more western sounding sidestep which also refers to gypsy music, but then it continues as a beautiful Greek ballad, once again irresistibly seconded by a male voice. Another great ballad is the delicate Η Καμπανα.

This music is in a way beyond judgement, it’s beautiful and heartfelt and it should grab the listener easily. Great players, great singers and irresistible songwriting, what else does one ask from an artist. This is a collection like I’m sure there are many of this artist and in that sense this review is a bit at random, there are more compilations but without having heard any others I think this is a fine one.

In searching for info in this great singer I found out here’s a movie called Rembetiko which is based on her life with Tsitsanis, which seems quite interesting.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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