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Vangelis - Vangelis & Irene Papas: Odes CD (album) cover




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3.63 | 53 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars It's all Greek to me

Released in 1979, "Odes" sits between "China" and "Opera Sauvage" which were also released that year. We should not really look upon this as an integral part of the Vangelis discography though, as it was originally intended only for the local Greek market, and only made available in that country. It was some years later before the album was given an international release. Even the sleeve plays down Vangelis admittedly heavy involvement, with only Papas name appearing on the front cover.

The reason for the restricted availability is that this is actually a collaboration album with Greek actress Irene Papas, who provides vocals throughout. Papas has enjoyed international success as an actress over many years, her films including such classics as "The Guns of Navarone". Here, she joins with Vangelis in offering modern interpretations of traditional Greek folk songs, the collection being rounded out by a couple of original compositions. The songs are sung in Greek, hence the localised nature of the original marketing.

The eight tracks capture various aspects of the history and geography of Greece, ranging from the march of a band of warriors during the Greek war of independence to a pastoral appreciation of the beautiful river Jannes. The opening "The forty braves" (I shall adopt the English language titles) is dedicated to said warriors, Papas being joined by a small chorus to add depth to the sound. Papas vocals are deep and slightly warbled, similar to singers such as Enya, Buffy St. Marie and Melanie.

"Little Orange Tree" has a real Enya feel to it, the moody ambience of her slightly echoed voice being accentuated by some soft synths. "Dance of fire" is the first of the new compositions, but even this is based on traditional Greek melodies and inspirations. Papas sits this one out, the track being entirely instrumental, with something of a Jean Michel Jarre feel. In contrast, "The Kolokotronis family" tells the tale of a legendary Greek dynasty through the unaccompanied voice of Papas.

The two reunite for "The river", dedicated to the aforementioned Jannes river. Here we have arguably the most beautiful piece on the album, Vangelis deep synth tones following Papas deep but delicate vocal superbly. "The roots" is the second of the original compositions and instrumentals. It is very much a continuation of "Dance of fire", taking its inspiration from the same themes. "Lament" is just that, a lament to the passing of a daughter by her mother, sung as a sort of spiritual wake. The track has an Arabic atmosphere, Papas strong, unemotional vocal adding to the gloom.

The closing "Menoussis" is a more orthodox narrative folk story of love, jealousy and infidelity, sung to a slightly more upbeat melody with chorale backing.

Overall, a rather different entry in the Vangelis time line. Papas is very much the star of the show here, but if we listen more carefully, Vangelis contribution is significant throughout. Those who appreciate the work of Vangelis may be a little bemused by this album at first, but such reservations will rapidly disappear.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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