Monday, July 2, 2007

PETE & ROYCE "Suffering of Tomorrow" LP 1980 (Greece)

Despite its extreme scarceness, this is a very important record concerning the evolution of the greek underground of the late 70ies. In order to recapture the spirit of the days, I will relate its release with a brief description of the socio-political framework of the greek scene of the times.

The presence of the military junta during the late sixties and early seventies has been quite a deterrent for the local rock scene, having prevented a musical development concurrent with that of other European countries. To complete the picture, after the restitution of democracy, there was the obvious hostility of the greek communist party towards the "cultural imperialism of U.S. patterns of life" that was added to the overall paranoia. Under these political constraints, the mid seventies heralded an explosion in the greek underground scene. Not only in music but also in all other forms of art as well as in political activism, a stream of radical innovation was omnipresent. The principal expressions of this phenomenon were the gradual change of several areas in Athens to freak hang-outs (Plaka and Exarchia Square), the turning into rock clubs of many traditional folk music taverns and in general the adoption of alternative lifestyles by the most advanced of the younger people. Thus, a small radical core began to show its presence nearly everywhere in the big cities, spurred on primarily by the fall of the military regime but also by an obvious desire for social change. Having to face a new, uncontrolled phenomenon, the conservative greek society undertook a hostile stance, with the mass media printing slurring against the new movement and approving the autocracy of the suppressive forces. As was to be foreseen this behaviour did nothing if not strengthen the cohesion of the alternative scene. A space for free and virtually limitless forms of expression was opened and many bands quit their previous mainstream direction and jumped on the alternative bandwagon. Unfortunately the local record companies were reluctant to release any underground rock music, not necessarily from a political but rather from a commercial point of view: they assumed that there wasn't enough of a potential audience for the genre to make it worth while. Thus, the majority of the groups of the era disappeared without leaving any recorded traces.

PETE & ROYCE were one of the few local progressive bands operating in such framework (others like PLJ BAND for instance, never identified with the alternative rock audiences in order to achieve a major label deal). Led by painter Pete Tsiros, they have made a name in the underground network, based on lengthy "hazy" concerts and an uncompromising underground attitude. Their sound was deeply rooted in the UK progressive scene, sitting somewhere between the prog/psych sound of mid-period PINK FLOYD and the mellotron school (FANTASY, CRESSIDA, KESTREL, early B.J.H.), resulting in a style heavily relying on mellow soundscapes.

During spring 1980 they captured on self-released vinyl the best tracks of their live shows. "Suffering of Tomorrow", was one of the very first greek private releases (on the mysterious Octoichos label) and the band's debut album, loosely based on the concept of death and decay (it is dedicated to Tsiros' deceased brother). A period piece undoubtfuly, but with that exquisite basement feel encountered in the early 70ies british proto-progressive bands it is one of the essential Greek progressive albums of all times. Their second offering "Days of Destruction" (1981 _Ocean) was somewhat more unevenly balanced, as folky progressive influences were blended together with a more mainstream and somewhat uninspired approach; funky orientated mainstream sounds and afroamerican female vocals. They disbanded in 1982, during the era of the punk boom, due to general indifference towards their recorded output and their members were lost from the music scene.

Track list (in the correct order NOT displayed on the album's sleeve):

Side A
1) Flickering Light
2) It's So Unreal
3) Flowers
4) Suffering of Tomorrow

Side B
1) Time
2) Years Beyond
i. Maybe
ii. Face of the Moon
iii. Round Your Grave

PS. This is for those who invested their youths in endless musical conversations at the cafes around Exarchia square and the rock clubs of Plaka, countless hours of record hunting on the first floor of Pop Eleven store and Monastiraki used bins, Sunday morning concerts at Athens' cinemas and nostalgically remember that very special communal feel of the musical underground.

Note: link removed as this is soon due for reissue via Music Bazz


Anonymous said...

The P.S. is "all the money". Golden memories, silver tears...

Anonymous said...

It's music I last heard 22-23 years ago. While driving or when I was silently gazing away at times of loneliness, I always had the tune of "flowers" on my mind... Thanxs for giving me the opportunity to share them with my love

B.S. Orestis

Anonymous said...

Was a student of the lead guitarist in the mid eighties and remember listening to this and other (mostly jazz oriented) works of him before the lessons at his house. Nice to bring back good memories

gm2263 said...

The band had performed with other bands early in the summer of 1980 at the Papagos open theater, at the exact location where the Papagos Festival takes place now.

Vasilis Ginos said...

Well, not all of "their members were lost from the music scene". I managed to make a living out of it. Thanks for this very insightful review of what is a part of my youth that I cherish and look back with the greatest affection...

Sylvie said...

End of January both albums of PETE & ROYCE will be officialy released on cd by for first time.

Please remove this unofficial downloading possibility from your blogspot.

Anonymous said...

Pete & Royce's two private Lps from 1980 are now both available in a deluxe gtf silver-metal-foil embossed cd from Musicbazz (zz001).
You could hear a sample on youtube:
“This amazing reprint of our two first albums is dedicated to you, all the new and old friends of Pete & Royce, with gratitude and respect”
Panagiotis “Pete” Tsiros, January 2012

Anonymous said...

her PETE & ROYCE from the FULLY AUTHORIZED DELUXE CD re-issue of their first two LPs on Musicbazz (zz001):

Anonymous said...