I was walking one day in the centre of Athens.
I remember it was a sunny day and like I often used to do back then, in the mid 80’s, I was out hunting vinyl records.
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t use to have records in the middle of the streets round here, it’s just that wonderful habit of going from one record store to another, trying to fish something good…
That was when I met Dimitris Dimitrakas carrying a bag full of LPs.
Dimitrakas is a big chapter of the Greek underground scene and talking about him would probably need a whole new blog…
To cut a long story short, till now, he has about 30 album releases of almost every rock genre.
What everybody has to respect about him, is that this guy, really loves music.
He started as a guitar player in 1969 but had an accident in 1973 making it difficult for him to carry on playing the guitar, so he became a drummer.
His first album was released in 1974, when he was playing with the band Tharsin Hri (Θαρσείν Χρει).
It was re-released in 2004.
Now, if you bear in mind that he was the drummer of the bands T.V.C., Durios Ippos, Symmoria, Rififi, Schmetterling, Panx Romana and many others…you will understand that this post would take a lot of days to be written if it was about his career.
Dimitrakas is also hosting a radio show about the Greek rock scene (he is a record collector so he has the “background”) since 1990, helping a lot of bands to present their music to the Greek audience.
He was also responsible for two compilation albums, featuring unsigned Greek rock groups.
Back in that day that I met him carrying the bag, I suppose it must have been in 1986 or 1987…
The bag was full of Schmetterling albums that just came out of the factory and he was out t promote them.
This is how I got the “Feeling Funny” album.
By that time, Dimitrakas was playing with Panx Romana too, so we knew each other.
He was kind enough to give me some informations about this release.
In “Feeling Funny”, he gathered all the unreleased material of Schmetterling.
The cover is funny, having a painted rabbit/robot doing a turtle/robot but the artwork is great.
It is gatefold with a pop-up photo standing out of it and this must have cost him/them a fortune back then…
Must have been a printing of 500 copies or something.
Schmetterling were formed in 1979, playing…a kind of… prog-rock with English lyrics.
Well, it wasn’t exactly the kind that Apocalypsis were doing…
Sometimes it wasn’t even prog-rock but…you get the idea…
They played a lot of shows and in 1981 they released the 7″ single “Low Down/White Button Relay” through Happening Records.
Their line up: Alex Papalambrou -vocals, bass and keyboards, Lakis Delioglanis-guitars, Dimitris Dimitrakas – drums and vocals, Themis Palatzoglou – saxophone.
Now, although the band members admitted they were influenced by bands such as the Camel and Eloy, which, as I explained in the past, had a lot of fans in those days, I can hardly trace these influences on this single.
“Low Down” was in a 70’s classic rock style with cow-bells and all the hippy stuff that was needed to grow long hair while listening to it…
The sound is poorly produced but…don’t forget that we are talking about one of the first releases of a Greek independent record label of the early 80’s, which was originally a record shop.
Things got more complicated on the flip side, where the band is flirting a lot with a…kind of pop.
It’s not my cup of tea to be honest.
There’s a lot of sax on this track.
A lot of sax indeed…
Later, Palatzoglou would leave the band and Giorgos Arhontakis would join on the bass.
Less sax, better bass lines…
After recording the material that appears on “Feeling Funny” the band members decided to follow their own separate ways.
Schmetterling seized to exist in 1983 leaving the recorded songs aside.
Giorgos Arhontakis would form later the band Motivo 4 in a whole lotta different music style.
Dimitrakas would focus on the bands T.V.C. and Panx Romana.
As he never forgot the Schmetterling days, he would put this Schmetterling album together, in 1986, to release it under the title “Feeling Funny”.
One thing was obvious back then: new wave was taking over and some bands were confused.
Just like Apocalypsis’s album “No”, Schmetterling sound out of time and out of place.
Of course, this release was not aiming on sales…
It was more like a memorabilia…and we have to respect that.
The track listing:
1. Feeling Funny
2. The Price
3. Nick Mat
4. Water of poison
1. Where ?
2. Alternative III
4. Velvet Opera
Back to “Feeling Funny”, Schmetterling are trying hard to stay on the prog-rock track.
I guess “A.S.D.” is the best track on Side A, although the band sounds a lot like Socrates drank the Conium on their album “On the Wings“.
“Nick Mat” is also a nice prog-rock track, leaving the rest three of this side in a weird mixture of new wave and…rock ?
“Alternative III” stands out from B Side and “Velvet Opera” might be a second choice for the fans of this soft prog-rock music style.
In any case, this album, along with the releases of Mousikes Taxiarhies, Pete & Royce, Apocalypsis, Vavoura Band and the rest of the bands that were not into punk rock or new wave can give one, a clear picture of what was going on during the Greek punk-rock outbreak of the early 80’s.
These bands were keeping the Greek music press busy all the time but the clock was ticking.
Unfortunately for them, due to the political conditions of the 70’s, these bands came late.
Only the P.L.J. Band’s prog-rock album, “Armageddon“, had the misfortune to be accepted for re-release by the German major label Polygram.
Why misfortune ?
Because Polygram asked to re-release the album four years after the band had disbanded, so…
Apart of that, “Armageddon” had a great production (mind the strong accent) and a great cover.
Just like Aphrodite’s Child ‘s “666“…”Armageddon” was dealing with the same issue of John’s Book of Revelation.
As you realise from title-tracks and the Greek prog-rock band names, there must be something very attractive there…
If you wanna know more about Dimitris Dimitrakas, click here.