red_banner.gif (6342 bytes)

From the Post war period and through the 1950's onward, Rebetiko music became more sophisticated in both lyrical as well as structural content. This was probably the primary reason for it's growth in popularity.  By the late 1950's and early 60's, the genre also began to reap some of the benefits of that evolution and some of it's practitioners did relatively well. These were called the "arhondo-rebetis" and although they were very successful, some of them had been so by essentially having compromised the traditional sound of the music. In fact there were times when one could scarcely recognize a single Rebetiko " lick" thru-out this manufactured and contrived "sophistication".  This unfortunately has always been one of the effects that usually results from the  demands of the commercialization process, which always strives to address or "target" a mass market. One that usually takes it's cue from the " lowest common denominator" school of Marketing.  This of course is a very old story in the recording industry and for more then just Rebetika.  For example the American Blues idiom usually comes to mind, as probably being the most acknowledged and well known illustration of this commercialized bastardization, of an otherwise authentic Genre.  If it were at all possible for the late great Robert Johnson, to ever hear the "Corporate Rock" video music of today , he would in all probability, gladly have sold his soul to the Devil all over again.  Only this time, have done it with interest due !  To some extent Rebetiko found itself in a set of similar circumstances, starting with the 1960's.  It was a situation that could drive some of it's more authenticity seeking aficionados absolutely mad with a sound that was overly electrified and with an artificially contrived emphasis on excessively Westernized musical phonetics or worse.  The "worse" however was very bizarre indeed. There was a period when some Greek popular music (although thankfully usually not Rebetiko), was combined with a type of music, often utilized in some movie soundtracks and imported from (of all places) India!  This synthetic Multi-Cultural sonic fusion usually resulted in some Godless abomination of an impossible to recognize atonal cacophony, that is indescribable and should have been something of a Pan Hellenic embarrassment, on a scale not witnessed since the handing down of the death sentence for Socrates !  If this description appears severe dear reader, you obviously have not experienced the rather dubious "privilege", of having had to listen to any of it.  How I envy you !  But I digress, so enough said on that particular topic.  Anyway an overly optimistic Post war attraction to things Western, along with an already predisposed coiled spring anticipation for Greece to unburden itself of any and all "Oriental" influences ( it's apparently never ending ), were probably the most responsible dynamics for more then a few of these artistic compromises.  Fortunately there were still one or two individuals around in the Greek music industry, who knew what Rebetiko was supposed to sound like and proved influentia and creative enough, to rekindle a genuine interest in the " Real Thing ".  These took the form of Rebetiko revivals as well as the  re-releasing of  Remastered recordings of some the original Rebetiko composers.  Most of this material had been long out of print.  Furthermore, "serious" Greek composers such as Stavros Xartharos were using thematic material based on Rebetiko motifs for new compositions .  Some of which were eventually featured in the Costas Ferris 1983 film production titled "Rebetiko". This award winning film is now seen by many Rebetiko fans as having been something of a watershed event in the reawakening of interest for the genuine article.  After the release of the film, a variation of it's soundtrack was also incorporated into an excellent stage play production titled "Aman Amin".  Both the Stage Play and the Film  along with their respective soundtracks are available (though difficult to locate) on CD and VHS video. Today the interest in Rebetiko music has expanded to a more diverse and culturally heterogeneous International audience. This has come as something of a surprise to more then just a few of it's long time supporters.  This unexpected but very welcome phenomenon,  probably would have amused some of the old composers and performers of the genre.  The phenomenon of Rebetiko revivals has also been an interesting and fortunate turn of events, if for no other reason, that it has initiated and encouraged the re - release on Digitally re-mastered Compact Disk, of many recordings, that have not been seen or heard from for "Eons".  

The acceptance of Rebetiko has now come a long way from it's inauspicious underground beginnings, when it had once been the exclusive product of the Cabarets, Opium Dens, Brothels and Prisons.  Today the specific socio - cultural and economic conditions, that once gave rise to and nourished the "Rebetiko Ethos", have long ago ceased to exist.  However all of us, will inevitably have various issues and circumstances in our lives, that will serve to separate us from others and make us feel very much the Outsider or Outcast. It is from this perspective, that the Art of  "Ta Rebetika" still remains very much alive.  It is alive because it  speaks so well the language of the abandoned, isolated, alienated, misanthropic and dispossessed. It is alive because it is a very special language.  One that conveys a profound and rudimentary universal message.  One that might best be characterized as a language which is at once, both immediate and eloquent in it's expression of the Human Spirit and most assuredly, in the courage of it's convictions.

NL.gif (3053 bytes)

Part 2 ] Part 3 ] Part 4 ] Part 5 ] [ Part 9 ] Part 6 ] Part 7 ] Part 8 ]

aa PREV.gif (2897 bytes)      aaaHome.gif (2897 bytes)      aa Next.gif (2681 bytes)