International relevance: ***
Swedish and Greek vocals
This isn't progg in a traditional sense, but folk music by Greek born duo Takis and Afrodite Vouis. But it is an example of how a lot of music, not necessarily progg, was embraced by the progg movement in Sweden in the 70's, being released by MNW in their shortlived series of mini albums (or EP's if you like although they played at 33 1/3 rpm) which also included an extremely rare English language release by Hoola Bandoola Band. With parts of the movement infused by left wing politics, attraction to folk music from different parts of the world where social struggle was the order of the day quickly grew. The Latin American situation in the 70's spawned an interest in for most notably Chilean music. Also important to note is that since World War II up to the mid 70's, immigrants came from Yugoslavia, Turkey, Greece, Austria and Italy to live and work in Sweden. It's no wonder then that many musicians from perhaps particularly Greece and Turkey played in various Swedish venues establishing (or continuing) a career, such as Ziya Aytekin and the exceptional Maffy Falay from Turkey, and, from Greece, Takis and Afrodite.
Takis was born in Rhodes, while Afrodite came from Thessaloniki. Takis lived in Sweden already in the 60's, but met his future wife in Greece where she sang Italian opera. Takis main interest was Greek music, and soon Afrodite changed her repertoire to traditional music and songs written by Takis and rooted in the native traditions close to his heart. In 1971, they both moved to Sweden where they recorded the ”Dirlada” EP the following year, with four songs in Greek and two in Swedish. Backing the couple on the record is a band called the Rhodians, assumably consisting of Swedish musicians although I have never been able to confirm who they were.
”Dirlada” is a loveable little album, with Takis' rich baryton and Afrodite's slightly husky voice interweaving in a bunch of well executed songs with piano, hand drums and, of course, bouzouki. The title track is a teasingly catchy number. But the best song is ”To Taxidi”, a moody, brooding song with Takis providing a haunting musical backdrop with rolling guitar playing.
Greek music might not be everybody's cup of tea, but this is indeed a nice example of its qualities. Takis Vouis has since made several albums, both as a solo performer and as a collaborator. I'm not sure if he's still a Swedish resident, but I know he's been playing concerts in Rhodes. Afrodite Vouis' whereabouts since the release of ”Dirlada” are completely unknown to me.