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    Abatzi, Rita – “I’m Burning, I’m Burning” – [Mississippi Records]

    The Greek Urban Experience with Turkish delights by way of
    the town of Izmir, just prior to WWII. Rita singing the
    rough and tumble rebetiko scorchers. Her voice lights your
    cigarette, fiddle follows her striking sparks alongside.
    Slow and smoldering at its best, but not without fits of
    flancy check the “Blond Jewish Girl” for a nice romp, or the
    syrto “Little Calliope” which gives this collection its
    title. All lyrics translated in a nice booklet (the
    Mississippi way!) allowed me to wonder about Paradosiako’s
    words for “The Doe.” Specifically the lines
    “Generous wife of the priest 2X
    The tough guys you don’t talk to “2X
    Most of the songs skirt the anguish of amor, The harm (or
    is it haram) of the harem, girls from the other village
    called out by name, even twice Rita sings of herself.
    And I think I heard the backing musicians shout her name
    in encouragement (or perhaps a tricky love triangle).
    I prefer the scrapier numbers, where a slithering fiddle
    reminds me of the film Latcho Drom, but other numbers
    bounce in balaika or flutter in clarinet (“Girl from
    Aigio”). The recordings are well-preserved, Rita less
    so (RIP 1969). At least we revive Rita’s varied voice
    and her name, the talented musicians (check out the
    interplay on “Mercy Little Anna”) wander nameless
    and amorphous, vanishing like the smoke from those
    long ago underground dens.
    -Thurston Hunger

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on August 10, 2016 at 6:23 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,International
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