Top of the World: Vinicio Capossela – Rebetiko Gymnastas

Posted on March 8th, 2013 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by David Hutcheon

Italian troubadour off on another odyssey

Last heard being lured to his demise by the call of a siren at the climax of his album Marinai, Profeti e Balene (reviewed in #85), the Italian troubadour has found himself alive and on dry land – and returned to Greece. This set of rebetika-flavoured covers (such as Chavela Vargas’ ‘Canción de las Simples Cosas’ and the ghost track ‘Come Prima’), augmented by new interpretations of his own songs, is a scaling back of ambition perhaps – though this may be no bad thing. Capossela’s old songs come from between 1990 and 2000, and few would deny he is not just a far better singer today but also greater arranger. In their original forms, ‘Contrada Chiavicone’ was a rockabilly racket and ‘Contratto per Karelias’ an ungainly stomp.

Here, with Ntinos Chatziiordanou on accordion and Manolis Pappos on bouzouki, they are transformed. All of the participants are outside of their comfort zones – Italians playing Greek music, Greeks playing Italian. The rebetika classic ‘Misirlou’, best known for the Dick Dale version featured in Pulp Fiction, is sensuously unwound by veteran singer Kaiti Ntali, while Capossela provides fairground organ and his regular guitarist, Alessandro Stefana adds a Spaghetti Western flavour.

The place to start with Capossela is still a compilation – such as The Story-Faced Man or the earlier L’Indispensabile – but this is his first album in years that puts out a welcome mat for newcomers.

TRACK TO TRY: Misirlou

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