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Prog Folk • Romania

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Phoenix biography
The beginnings of Romanian band PHOENIX must called back from the 60's. They released a few EPs during this period, featuring several original compositions and some covers of BEATLES songs. Unfortunately (or fortunately, God knows) the communist officials were not impassive regarding their western style and music and started to create them some problems. Despite all opinions, the leader Nicolae Covaci abandoned the beat influences and instead turned to archaic Romanian music as the source of inspiration. Their journey to old Romanian folklore begin with "Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume" continues with "Mugur De fluier" (subtitled Introduction for an old Romanian music concert) and ends with "Cantofabule", a poem inspired by medieval books (bestiars) dedicated to mythical creatures.

The work of PHOENIX is a pleasant guide through Romanian spirit and meanwhile some really progressive pages. Living guitar, nice bass, accurate drums and emotional vocals alongside proper arrangements, originality and musical depth describe three of the best Romanian albums ever.

: : : George Preda : : :

1971 Cei ce ne-au dat nume (LP) Electrecord
1973 Mugur de fluier (LP) Electrecord
1975 Cantafabule (LP) Electrecord
1981 Transsylvania (LP) Belaphon
1992 Symphoenix (CD) Genius
1992 Evergreens (CD) Electrecord
1993 Cantafabule (CD pirat) Belgia
1994 Cantafabule (CD) Genius
1997 Aniversare 35 (CD) Genius
1998 Vremuri, Anii 60 (CD) Electrecord
1999 Mugur de fluier (CD) Electrecord
1999 Ora-Hora (MCD) Sony
2000 La umbra marelui U.R.S.S. (CD) Sony

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Ti AmoTi Amo
Glassnote 2017
Audio CD$8.92
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Wolfgang Amadeus PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Glassnote 2009
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Glassnote 2013
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It's Never Been Like ThatIt's Never Been Like That
Parlophone 2006
Audio CD$8.58
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Parlophone 2000
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PHOENIX discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

PHOENIX top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 66 ratings
Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume
3.82 | 44 ratings
Mugur De Fluier
3.96 | 108 ratings
Cantofabule (Cantafabule)
4.18 | 11 ratings
4.00 | 16 ratings
SymPhoenix - Timişoara
2.75 | 11 ratings
In umbra marelui urs
3.29 | 12 ratings
Baba Novak
3.50 | 4 ratings
Vino, Țepeș!

PHOENIX Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 3 ratings
Anjversare 35 - 1962-1997

PHOENIX Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PHOENIX Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 6 ratings
Remember Phoenix
4.00 | 3 ratings
3.31 | 7 ratings
Vremuri - Anii 60...

PHOENIX Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
4.25 | 4 ratings
Floarea stÓncilor
4.00 | 4 ratings
Mamă, mamă/Te Óntreb pe tine, soare.../Meşterul Manole
4.00 | 2 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cantofabule (Cantafabule) by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.96 | 108 ratings

Cantofabule (Cantafabule)
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Legends of communist-era Romania, Phoenix were the country's premier rock group during the 1970's, shifting millions of records, regularly performing to packed-out stadiums of screaming teenagers, and constantly finding themselves under surveillance from the government's shifty cultural bureau. Formed in Timisoara during the late-sixties, the group would produce three studio albums of varying quality after signing a contract with the state record label Electrecord, before issuing this extraordinary double-sided slice of fantasy-laden prog-rock during the summer of 1975. Heavily-influenced by Romanain history and folklore after the then-government of Ceacescu decreed that all Romanian artists must look 'inward' for their inspiration, ignoring the vagaries of the corrupt West and taking their ideas direct from the history and mythology of the motherland, 'Cantafabule' meshes elements of prog-rock, folk, fantasy, hard-rock and symphonic grandeur to create a dense storybook of an album filled with contrasting styles and textures. Of course, not everyone was happy with the 'looking inward' deal, but the reality was that group's like Phoenix had little choice. Admirably, they took it all in their stride, and subsequently produced the defining album of their career, a remarkable feat considering that the stipulations introduced by the government were designed to restrict the creative ability and appeal of groups like Phoenix, whom the state eyed with both suspicion and contempt. Even in the cold grey days of communism rock and roll was still sticking it to the man! Since it's release, 'Cantafabule'' has gone on to enjoy something of a legendary reputation amongst progheads, with original Electrecord pressings fetching upwards of £750 on the collector's circuit. But be warned: 'Cantafabule' comes with a legendary reputation, but you must remember that it was recorded in Romania. In 1975. The sound quality is ropey, the special effects are occasional laughable(especially he outmoded synth pulses on the album's opening cut) and it is a very, very, very long album. The best stylistic touchstone would probably be the likes of Alphataurus, SBB or French outfit Artcane, but the truth is that for just this album, Phoenix did manage to establish a strange sound all of their own. Certainly unique, this is a dark and complex album that needs to be heard to be truly (dis)believed. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2015
 Mugur De Fluier  by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.82 | 44 ratings

Mugur De Fluier
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by LetMeRoll

4 stars Magur De Fluier "is an album more mature and put together since its debut , but at the same time is a continuation of the road designated by him . On the second LP fans have been waiting with bated breath for over a year and when it came out , it turned out that the team fully met the expectations . Music contained therein is a beautiful rock flirt with Romanian folklore. These ornaments in the form of the ubiquitous sounds of cello , flute and celesta themselves are miniature works that complemented rock instrumentation gain even more power , without losing their dignity. " Magur De Fluier " presents a rather gentler face of the merger of these two musical worlds , because the songs calm prevail , in which the foreground is often put forward the folk instruments ( the title track , which can be associated , for example . With the achievements of Jethro Tull ) and the choir shouted vocals , seeming slightly to refer to Baroque music ( " Mica Tyganiada ", " ochiie Negri ", " Ochi De Tigan "). The text layer is also a lot of references to the Romanian folklore , of which tried to two new associates team - poets Andrei Şerban Ujică and foarte . One of the strongest points of this album is more than seven-minute " strung " . Preceded by an introduction of the flute beautiful flowing freely, but restlessly ( the drums and vocals !) . Gradually, the listener almost in a hypnotic trance. It is worth mentioning that, in addition , played a little in the style of Uriah Heep song " Andrii Popa " ( telling the story of the legendary Romanian warlord ) , Strung is also a folk adaptation of the text. The most surprising is in my opinion the tip of the album - " Dansul Codrilol ", composed by Iosfa Kappl - pure hard rock with a strong guitar riff , which echoes as heavy bass.

The album was originally conceived as a rock opera after a series of deletions of censorship has lost a bit of such a character , but the system works as well as the overall consistency makes it easily can identify him as a concept album ( do not forget the words of songs were created in such a way as to form a whole) .

 Cantofabule (Cantafabule) by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.96 | 108 ratings

Cantofabule (Cantafabule)
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars With a lyrically cohesive concept based on Romanian folklore, PHOENIX's landmark release is unfortunately not as consistent musically. When it works, it rivals the best folk, psychedelic, and heavy prog acts of the 1970s, but when it doesn't, it's simply another display of testosterone fueled beat rock, which happens to be sung in Romanian.

Luckily, the best moments are the most progressive and/or folky, with the longest being especially sound. On "Invocatie" and "Canticlu", the platter tilts dramatically and emphatically rather than pelvically. While these tracks succeed far more in defining than borrowing a style, I do hear some OMEGA and ELOY, the latter especially in the keyboards, and in the excellent "Delfinul, Dulci Dulful" some reference to BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST's "After the Day" are clear.

On the more folk oriented pieces like "Norocul" and "Stima Casei", the German band OUGENWEIDE comes to mind, whereas some of the more driving pieces recall Basque acts like LISKER and MAGDALENA. Unfortunately, several weaker standard hard rock tracks hinder the flow, particularly "Pasarea Rock n Roll", while "Zoomahia" vies for the spacey Krautrock mantle and winds up 6 feet under. Just too much heavy riffing here, some of it infesting even the better tracks like a mantra abandoned.

While "Cantofabule" possesses qualities that would appeal to an expansive spectrum of prog listeners, I'm not sure how many will be wholly enamoured with it. Still, it's a disk of historic value that is worth your attention, and you might well find some favourites arising from its scorched grooves.

 Cantofabule (Cantafabule) by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.96 | 108 ratings

Cantofabule (Cantafabule)
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by SpecialKindOfHell

5 stars Today as Tomorrow, Forever and Now

In graduate school at the turn of the millennium, a fellow student from Romania and I were chatting about music and it's influence and importance to student populations; for inspiration, for entertainment, maybe for protest. He turned me on to Phoenix with some rare (in the US) CDs he brought back from his trip home and let me discover what the underground Romanian student population was inspired by in the 70s, 80s and on.

Banned from performing in Romania in 1972 and finally relocated to Amsterdam to avoid further persecution in the iron curtain-clad country, Phoenix was the voice for the youth, those seeking freedom from the existing regime, at the risk of imprisonment or worse. They've sold millions in Romania, but remain tragically obscure elsewhere. Their songs combine equal parts hard rock and fuzzed-out guitar lines with Transylvania gypsy folk music influence that often have these guys labeled as 'Folk-Prog'.

However, it's really much more than that. There are some melodic and stripped back moments, but they do rock loudly and with an incessant metaliic fuzz that is rattling, as in "Invocație" (Invocation). Not to mention the dark melancholic mood that is put forth throughout. There is often a pounding drum rhythm that is intricate and tribal; and I don't mean in an American indian way, but rather in it's force and feel. A soundtrack to Romanian cavalry riding hard across the country perhaps, or more likely the tribal Dacia empire that existed before the Romans conquered the area (and made it forever Romania). Cantafabule (Cantofabule) is Phoenix's third LP, released in 1975 on the Electrecord label in Romania, and is their pinnacle achievement.

Not only does it establish the popular music / rock integration with traditional Romanian music, Zamfir and his panpipes don't count, but it also combined elements of a proto-metal sound, like a distant ancestor of Doom Metal, with the folk and progressive tendencies. In the background of 'Definul' a zapped-out synthesizer sound bubbles along under chanting deep guttural vocals. "Filip și Cerbul" has a mind-blowing metal-like riff anchoring the beginning of the second LP. And this is a true double LP, unlike the contemporary tradition of spreading out one LP worth of material over two. There's almost 70 minutes of music in this grand suite, and this allows them to really stretch out and weave a surreal image of this fantasy world with many different layers.

The idea for Cantafabule came from a fourteenth-century Bestiary, an illustrated anthology of beasts popular from the middle ages on. Thus the songs are vignettes from the animal world, such as "Scarab Scale", "Slaying of The Dragon", and appropriately, "Phoenix", whose last line provides the title to this review.

"We thought at first to some magical formula spirits delight. A kind of invocation. These animal spirits are called symbolic and they start to appear, at first the smallest and most innocent, such as scarab and unicorn, then rest, dolphin and dangerous. At one time, all recorded within a sort of conflict, Zoomahia, and everything ends suggesting the beginning of a new cycle of existence to a higher level through a hymn dedicated to Phoenix, the symbol of rebirth and eternal existence." - Andrew Ujica

Original pressings are 2 LPs in a gatefold cover with truly great psychedelic artwork by Lili and Valeriu Sepi, and are notoriously hard to find in excellent condition since the Romanian covers were very thin and fragile. The only official reissue on LP was in 1992 and the 2 LPs were packaged in separate covers that featured the cover art in yellow and blue tones rather than the grey and red original. Original LP labels were white with red, and the reissues black with silver.

 Cantofabule (Cantafabule) by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.96 | 108 ratings

Cantofabule (Cantafabule)
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Working synthesisers into their explorations of traditional Romanian folk, Cantofabule finds Phoenix continuing to try their best to slip subversive ideas past their country's censors. In this case, the album's concept, which revolves around fantastical fables about various animals, gave them a means to create allegorical stories hinting at their distaste for the regime which went over the censor's heads. The album is hampered - at least in the edition I own - by rather uninspired production, and the double album length is probably excessive considering the material on offer. Not personally to my taste, though those interested in a fusion of prog folk and the occasional bit of hypnotic, pulsing Krautrock might find something to enjoy here.
 Mugur De Fluier  by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.82 | 44 ratings

Mugur De Fluier
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Continuing to emphasise their folk side in order to evade the official disapproval of the Communist authorities, Phoenix turn Migur de Fluier into a valiant attempt to subtly rock out whilst performing renditions and interpretations of traditional Eastern European folk music. The various versions of Lasa Lasa that litter the track listing become repetitive after a while - granted, I can see the interest in experimenting with different arrangements or interpretations of a comparatively short track, but these performances of it do not quite differ enough to retain interest, and in general I found the Phoenix sound a bit less engaging here than on the previous album.
 Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 66 ratings

Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Phoenix's debut album shows the band's knack for undermining and skirting the edges of the harsh censorship regime imposed by the Communist authorities in Romania at the time. The authorities had shown stern disapproval of rock music, which was considered to be a Western cultural imposition, and so the band decided to get around the ban by taking a great deal of influence from traditional Romanian folk music, and then fusing that with a rock music approach so that they could still play with the sort of heavy sound they wanted to whilst still remaining within the government-sanctioned guidelines. As well as achieving great popular support in Romania for their skill at pushing the boundaries of public expression under the regime's censorship, often getting away with slipping subtle anti-Communist sentiments past the censors unnoticed, the album also shows a unique prog-folk approach steeped in a musical tradition which few in the West - even folk fans - would have encountered previously. A unique and wonderful mixture.
 Cantofabule (Cantafabule) by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.96 | 108 ratings

Cantofabule (Cantafabule)
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars First of all, I have to give a big thank you to for giving me an opportunity to hear this Romanian band's three albums from the 1970s. So far I've listened to this one the most because it has analog synths on it and I'm a sucker for analog synths. It seems almost every rock band on Earth was at least experimenting with synthesizers at the time, even bands from Communist countries. Being a rock band in a Communist country was not fun and it almost amazes me how many rock bands from eastern Europe there were in the 1970s. There is a folk influence here but it does not dominate. I'm no expert in Romanian folk music, but I'm going to assume it has more in common with Italian folk than Balkan folk, due to linguistics/history.

"Invocatie" starts with insect like synth noises. More overdubbed spacey synths join in. Then the band does start/stop symphonic rock. Switches to a rockin' groove with vocals now. Great harmony vocals during a 'chorus' like section. All of a sudden a gong gets hit, the music stops and then it goes into a short folky section. I like the drumming and altered vocals in the middle, followed by some bell sounds, acoustic guitar and a spoken word section. Some pounding drums and "ahh" harmony vocals in the background later. Then a synth solo. Later reprises the start/stop symphonic section and continues the main part of the song. Some good drumming near the end. At the very end is some funky blues-rock with harmony vocals. Terrific song.

"Norocul Inorogului" is a folky song. Not sure what Romanian folk music sounds like, but I assume something similar to this. Good singing and nice bass synth. You hear some kind of traditional wind instruments in this song. "Scara Scarabeului" is a very commercial sounding early 70s style rock song. Good but not very proggy. "Definul, Dulce Dulful Nostru" starts with some electric harpsichord, cymbals and bass fills. A guitar riff drags the drums into the mix. Then a great mix of band, synth and harmony vocals. Some good drumming in this song. Cool guitar solo which is some kind of classical/blues hybrid. Great dramatic organ to end it.

That song segues into "Uciderea Balaurului" which is more of a typical 1970s hard rock song. Sounds like some clavinet here. "Stima Casei" begins almost funky with the bongos and the bass but quickly switches to a folk song. Good mandolin(?) playing and flute. "Pasarea Calandrinon" opens with classical piano. Goes into some great hard rock then folk-rock. The two sections alternate. Nice intricate playing before a great guitar solo. Switches to a new groove near the end. The music stops and then some jazzy piano and folky violin. I like the sadistic laugh at the end.

"Filip Si Cerbul" is another great hard rocker with some cool synth. I like the almost surf style drumming and '50s rock'n'roll guitar playing at the end. "Vasiliscul Si Aspida" starts out as a folk song with some whispered vocals. Then it turns hard rock with great drumming and harmony vocals. Some acoustic guitar later. At one point the vocals sound like they were recorded through a megaphone. The music stops and then some foot stomping and folk singing to end it. "Sirena" is more of a ballad. Good synth. Hard rocking chorus.

"Pasarea Roc..k And Roll" starts with really cool spacey synth that slowly transforms into an air-raid siren sound. Then gets almost Hawkwind sounding with punk-like shouts of "hey!" Changes to a more commercial rock song. "Canticlu A Cucuveaualiei" is a song you can listen to on PA. Begins with some music box before the band comes in on an almost Zeppelin vibe. The band grooves when the vocals enter. Some backwards guitar. Great bass playing at one point. "Zoomahia" is a highlight. Opens with spacey synth sounds and echoed whispering. The bass guitar starts to play the sequencer rhythm and then the whole band comes in. Almost sounds Canterbury. Some Gong like chanting in the middle.

I love the part starting 4:44-pure awesomeness. Another sequencer pattern leads the band. Instruments kind of float around in a Gong like way at the end. "Phoenix" is the last song. Electric harpsichord, bass fills and wah-wah guitar arpeggios are joined by drums and vocals. Nice synth. Ends with a faster version of the funky blues-rock riff at the end of "Invocatie" fading the song out. This double-album has some great artwork. The sound and production is pretty good. What stands out for me the most is the amazing synthesizer work here. None of it I would consider cheesy or dated. Instead a lot of it is spacey and experimental (for the time). I'm going to give their two previous albums more attention, but this one gets 4 stars.

 Remember Phoenix by PHOENIX album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
3.20 | 6 ratings

Remember Phoenix
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars All I can tell you is that this is a compilation album released in 1991. I have to wonder if most of these were re-recordings from their early days because this has a strong BEATLES flavour to it. They used to cover a lot of BEATLES songs when they first started until the government told them to stop.

"Vremuri" opens with laid back guitar and bass before the vocals join in. The singing is in their own Romanian language. Man this sounds so much like the BEATLES when it gets fuller. "Mama Mama" is even more BEATLES-like. By the way most of these songs are around the 3 minute mark and quite simple.Very commercial sounding. "Te Intreb Pe Tind, Soare" opens with guitar as bass and drums join in. Vocal melodies before these deeper than usual vocals come in. Catchy stuff with backing vocals. "Nunta" is different because it's from the debut album "Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume". Raw guitar to start before the drums come pounding in then vocals. Check out the guitar after 1 1/2 minutes!

"Totusi Cint Ca Voi" is mid-paced and just over 2 minutes of pop. Some clapping too. "Floarea Stincilor" opens with gentle guitar and piano. Light drums and vocals join in. Vocal melodies before 2 minutes. A mellow and enjoyable track. "Ar Vrea Un Eschimos" opens with piano as the wind blows. Drums join in. Vocals before a minute with bass. "Balada "Negru Vodo"" is also off their debut so it's different from the rest. In fact this is an almost 15 minute epic. Violin in this one along with some killer guitar and drum work. Great track. "Canaral" is ballad-like with keys and a light beat with reserved vocals. "Nebunal Cu Ochii Inchisi" has vocals and backing vocals on it and lots of violin. Sounds like an ethnic Folk song.

Not a bad compilation of songs but it pales when compared to their debut or their third album "Cantofabule".

 Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume by PHOENIX album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 66 ratings

Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume
Phoenix Prog Folk

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Another gem hidden behind the iron curtain. I have to say that I wasn't much impressed by their highly rated "Cantafabule", so I approached their debut without any particular expectation.

I took less than one minute to decide that I like it: the two guitars which start the first track have a touch of 60s Psychedelia. A quite Hypnotic track because of repetition, but the hard- rock sound of the lead guitar won't make anybody fall asleep for sure.

The intro to "Primavara" (Spring) reprises the fadeout from the previous track and it's absolutely rock. Its follow-up starts with a choir that's a demonstration of the dotted line who connects all the indo-european folk music. Listen to the "chanson de provence" or to some traditional celtic: only Romanian or Gaelic speaking people will catch the difference.

"Vara" (Summer) comes directly from the 60s. A very acid guitar, a distorted bass riff and vocals that remind to early Wishbone Ash. Unfortunately the quality of the recording is not very good. It's not clear if the bass has a distortion effect or is the recording itself to be distorted. It's an excellent song anyway.

"Toamna" (The Fall) is a fusion of Folk and Rock. The melodic line seems to come from the local popular traditions while the rhytmic part is rock. The acid guitar solo is nice even if the four chords below are everything but new: A-G-F-E.

Back to the seasons: "Iarna" (Winter) is again divided in intro and follow-up. 1 folkish minute and another minute of percussions and bluegrass-like guitar. Just an interlude.

"Nunta" (Marriage) is again based on a fusion of psychedelia (bass and drums) and traditional music (Vocals). It's one of the most interesting tracks with changes in tempo, impressive bass line and the omni-present acid guitar, a bit more Hendrix-like this time.

"Negru-Voda Balada" (Black Voda Ballad) I think Voda is a town, but I'm not sure. The longest track of this album. It's mainly a long jam session of blues-rock of the kind that can be found on "Colosseum Live". It's a very good jam indeed, but there was plenty of tracks of this kind during those years. This track is more proto-prog than prog-folk, but it doesn't mean that I dislike it. I'm comparing them to Colosseum, not to Phil C.

"Pseudo Morgana" is probably the most progressive track. The percussions are still from the 60s, the repetitive guitar harping and the bass give it a particular sound. Even if based on just two chords, it's highly enjoyable due to the hard work performed by the bass.

In summary, this is an excellent album with an important characteristic: they didn't try to clone any specific western artist. The influence of blues-rock and psychedelia are evident but this album comes from 1972, so it's natural. This is a band which tries to have an own characteristic sound and the fusion with traditional music gives it a touch of uniqueness.

It's a pity that the recording is not very clean, but it's not too below the standards of those years. Surely it's in line with the standards of the late 60s.

Stars? 4-

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Fitzcarraldo for the last updates

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