Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Flowers of Romance

As announced last time already, the previous post was the last in the series of translations of material related to the greek uprising of December '08. Rest assured that there's a ton to be discussed: the attack against three patrolling cops which left one of them seriously injured (& which, some analysts say, might - might - have been staged by some state-run, counter-insurgency service instead of by leftist urban guerrillas/misguided idiots); the ultra-violent suppression of the teacher/student demo of 8 January; the polarization (& politicization) of a bunch of people in greece following the recent events; the hard-to-believe (even by greek standards) level of apathy exhibited by the government; & so on. But, neither these nor other issues will be discussed here - this blog goes back to being a music blog, once I've taken the time to thank everybody who has made this attempt worthwhile by reading even a tiny bit of the information included in the last 7 posts: thanks; for as Subcomandante Marcos says 'we acquired a consciousness of language not as a way of communicating with each other but as a way of building something.' (Which is naturally impossible for a me(dioc)re translator to claim, but certainly true of some of the trench poetry translated here.)

So, as much as I'm reminded of an old comic strip - middle-aged man reading newspaper expresses his depression regarding the world situation: war, famine, the works; young woman sitting nearby tells him he's reading the wrong paper: to elucidate, she takes out hers & starts reading how wonderful the upcoming spring fashion collection will be... -, I'd better leave politics out of this blog & get started with the musical matter at hand. The Tribe4mian blog "beat" me to it by uploading quite a few posts on The Flowers of Romance, already, including an interview which I had never read before & which I, therefore, greatly appreciate. For more info on the band - & I mean both more than presented here and more than I know myself anyhow - check it out; it has quickly evolved into one of the handful of music blogs I check regularly.

By means of a little history, I was introduced to F.O.R. in the spring of '93 by means of Radio Acropolis: at that time, a 2-day festival with The Last Drive, F.O.R., Deus Ex Machina, & Panx Romana was being held in Thessaloniki (21-22 May 1993 & in Θέατρο Κήπου, to be exact). I was studying day & night for my final exams so, regrettably, I didn't go; but I did get to hear (& also tape, little archivist that I already was proving to be) the festival ad on the aforementioned Radio Acropolis quite a few times, together with interview snippets from The Last Drive & F.O.R.. (A couple of years down the line, I'd find out that the background music in that ad came from F.O.R.'s cover of 'Paint It Black' in the 'Love Means Death' 12".) A very bitter & very pyrrhic victory, indeed... The spark caught on, at any rate, & I was lured into F.O.R.'s work (how could it be any different, after all, since I was finishing high school & the band's 'Autumn Kids' - played in the same radio at the same time - refers to 1936; as I for years mistakenly thought did The Last Drive's 'Killhead Therapy' - by the power of association, as the track was also played in the radio at the same time...).

In the late spring of 1994, I came across a copy of the band's second LP, "Pleasure & The Pain" - I doubt I even knew at the time they had a first LP (no internet, remember?). (That must have invariably happened in Rollin Under - Lazy Dog's HQ, if you prefer - & probably in their Socratous location, although it could have in principle happened in the old room in Exadaktylou they operated their mailorder from.) That & Ξύλινα Σπαθιά's first record sure made my spring - unfortunately, although I managed to see Ξύλινα Σπαθιά three times in the coming few months (the standout being the first time - June '94 in Μύλος - where they ran out of songs & asked people which one they wanted to hear again...), it took way more to get to see F.O.R.. Various images graze my memory right now: asking a friend to notify me if 'any worthwhile bands, & especially Flowers of Romance, play the city' as I was getting ready to leave Thessaloniki & head back to my hometown for the christmas break; writing 4 verses from 'Pleasure & The Pain' in an ancient public computer (in fontsize 72 or something), printing it out on the then-usual dotmatrix paper, turning the printout into a stencil & then using it to spraypaint my room's door in order to commemorate my first lost love (I slept for 4 fucking years in that room, waking up to those verses - argh!); what the tape on which I recorded 'Dorian Grey' & 'Pleasure & The Pain' looked like (very much like the tape I recorded Purple Overdose's self-titled LP on, in fact); finding the 'Love Means Death' 12" in a record store on Egnatia which had the weird habit of being open once or twice per year (I kid you not; too bad I forget the name); finding the self-titled - promo, as it later proved - 7" in Rollin Under for 900 drachmas; having thought of listening to 'The Last Summer Night (On Earth)' on 08/08/99; & eventually spotting a poster one morning - blue border, B&W pic of the band (the same one appearing as 'Noiz mag (#40, June '97)' in the band's myspace profile) - advertising F.O.R.'s appearance in Μύλος (in the club of course, not in the much larger concert hall).

Of which the documentation is right under, freshly ripped during the vacation as promised to panelo8riambos, together with a small file with what material I have taped regarding the aforementioned 2-day festival, the "Love Means Death" 12," the eponymous 7". The latter two recordings are presented here essentially for completeness: assuming you have all three - wonderful - albums, & seeing as you can probably still get a copy of the "Channel Z" cd-single somewhere on the web, you'd be missing "Love Means Death," the eponymous 7", the track "Island in the Moon" (contained in the 1994 Nyctalopia CD release of "Pleasure and the Pain"), & the track "Amaradina" contained in Wipe Out!'s "Double Shot" compilation (& also in the Nyctalopia cd as bonus) - the track "Autumn Kids" (their contribution to Wipe Out!'s legendary & much sought after compilation "Wipe Out Presents 12 Raw Greek Groups") is also contained in the "Love Means Death" 12". If I missed anything (apart from the early demo, which I've been dying to get my hands on for 15 years already...), please let me know. & if you do have the demo, do drop me a line, I'd be grateful.

How about the former ones, then? Well, regarding the interview snippets & the like, there's little to be said - they're included here for the benefit of that miniscule group of amateur historians of the greek scene. Regarding the bootleg, now, the sound quality is pretty bad plain & simple - in fact, I was a bit heartbroken when, last month, I dug the tape out for the first time in ten years & listened to it. But hey, there's nothing I can do at this stage; in fact, there was little I could do at any stage, seeing as the show was recorded using my roommate's cheap, journalist-type tape recorder - the same one I had somehow broken in '94 at a Honeydive show by jumping up & down way too hard (to be young again & so on, indeed...). What does not help at all is the knowledge that the show was, indeed, all I had expected it to be - & I had spent a year or so listening to the first two albums pretty much every day, so I had improbable expectations; just look at the setlist & you'll get my point. (In fact, the show was so good that it couldn't even get mired by a bunch of girls from my old high school who walked in, annoyed the hell out of me by making fun of the band & being loud, & left after ten minutes; I guess the music didn't agree with their ethnic - or whatever was in fashion that month - sensibilities...) Unfortunately, I didn't find the time to dig out the poster; & unbelievably, I can't find a single picture of my room back then any more (where the poster was hanging), so I've no idea when the show took place. I promise, though, to rectify this next time I wreak havoc on my belongings from that time... At any rate, it must have been sometime in the fall of '97, as I remember talking to vocalist Mike Pougounas after the show (in my scale, mustering up the courage to approach him was not just bold - it was heroic, hence the memory) & asking him about the new album; it should be out in a week or two, he said. I spent six months looking for it, until one day it dawned on me to look into Rollin Under's miniscule cd section - I freaked out to see there was no vinyl release & they had moved from Wipe Out! to FM (which created some bad blood between the label & the band, but that's a story I've no desire to tell). At least I could hear the album right away this way, instead of waiting until I visited my parents where my record player was...

Enjoy the material; it's been a long time coming, but I hope you'll find it plenty. Yours truly makes a cameo appearance when he yells for "Amaradina" - ha!...

P.S.: As you'll notice, the small file with the material pertaining to the 2-day festival includes a super short interview snippet with The Last Drive. I chose not to include the track following it in the tape, as it can be found - in exactly the same version - in the "Noisecide/Drive Live" bootleg tape (collecting hard-to-find The Last Drive material) - see here, for example. Speaking of the snippet, the Drive mention that this track was recorded in 'the second winter of their existence' - indeed, their bio states that this track has been recorded live in February 26, 1985 at Kyttaro Club (Athens) & included in one of Di-Di's compilation tapes. (Wow! When I first found this bootleg track in this old tape, I never dreamed I'll identify it someday...)


Live at Mylos, Thessaloniki, Fall 1997 (bootleg)

IA01. Kashmir
IA02. Love
IA03. Who's Playing Jesus
IA04. Dear Prudence (The Beatles cover)

IA05. Winter Waltz

IA06. Fetish

IB01. The Royal Hunt of the Sun

IB02. Reptile Dance

IB03. Winning (The Sound cover)

IB04. Carnival of Souls

IB05. Pleasure and the Pain

IB06. All I Can Remember

IIA01. For the Wolf Within

IIA02. Bitch (unreleased)

IIA03. The Ocean Floor

IIA04. Black Snow

IIA05. In Blood Eternal

IIA06. The Crying Puppet

IIB01. Love Commandos

IIB02. There's Nothing We Can't Solve Together

IIB03. 1,000 Dying Words

Two-Day Festival (1993)

Αναγγελία Συναυλίας
(Radio Acropolis)
Διαφήμιση Συναυλίας (Rock Management)
Interview Snippet 01 (The Flowers Of Romance/Mike Pougounas)

Interview Snippet 02 (The Flowers Of Romance
/Mike Pougounas)
Interview Snippet 01 (The Last Drive/Alex K.)

Interview Snippet 02 (The Last Drive/Alex K.)

Love Means Death (12") (1992)

A. Love Means Death

B01. Paint It Black (Rolling Stones cover)

B02. Autumn Kids (originally in the "Wipe Out Presents 12 Raw Greek Bands" comp.)

Pleasure And The Pain/Winter Waltz (7") (1993)

A. Pleasure And The Pain (version)

AA. Winter Waltz (version)

Live at Mylos: two miles from the cage (IA , IB , IIA , IIB)
Two-Day Festival: three miles from the cage
Love Means Death (12")
Pleasure And The Pain/Winter Waltz (7")