Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Dimitri—
Sing All You Can / The Land


Released 1974 on Mercury
The Seth Man, July 2009ce
In 1958, eleven-year-old Hungarian musician Dimitri Tambossis travelled to Greece where he spent a decade kicking around in a series of minor beat groups and recording a clutch of solo singles. After appearing in a couple of Greek films (most notably, fronting fictitious psychedelic band The LSD in “My Hippy Aunt”) Dimitri travelled to Paris in 1970 at the age of 22 where he would meet and eventually join the expatriate Greek Rock group, Aphrodite’s Child. While their keyboardist Vangelis (a.k.a. Evanghelos Odyssey Papathanassiou) remained in the studio preparing what was to be their swan song album, “666,” an auxiliary Aphrodite’s Child consisting of Demis Roussos, Lucas Sideras, Lakis Vlavianos, Harris Chalkitis (Vangelis’ live keyboardist replacement), and Dimitri were sent out on tour throughout continental Europe performing their pre-“666” pop hits.

In the wake of Aphrodite's Child’s demise, Dimitri joined the short-lived Eros (named after the Greek god of love who was, indeed, a child of Aphrodite) together with ex-Aphrodite’s Children Lucas Sideras, Harris Chalkitis and Lakis Vlavianos. Releasing one single, “Rain Train”/“I Can See It” in 1971 that sounded more like music from Big Pink than a wig-out from Greek freaks, the following year Dimitri signed on with the French division of Philips/Mercury Records as a solo artist. His first single, “Poor Soul,” reached number one in the French pop charts and because of this unexpected success, allowed Dimitri a berth wider than most with a further eleven singles released by the label over the next six years.

It was this berth that allowed for one of the rarest anomalies of Rock to discharge quickly (and loudly) all over the B-side of his fifth single, “Sing All You Can” / “The Land.” With its attendant female-backed gospel balladry, “Sing All You Can” is total fluff musically and lyrically -- especially compared to “The Land.” “The Land,” man: it’s KILLER and immediately flattens all of Dimitri’s other near two dozen Mercury tracks. Here, Dimitri would sing like never before: gone are the inflections of Otis Redding modulating between Joe Cocker and Richie Havens soul crustiness as he belts out the lyrics with the same tuff, gruff, rough’n’readiness as Lemmy on “Silver Machine.” The lyrics are littered with desert/desperado motifs as constant noun displacement rages between the sun, the land, his band and something only Dimitri can define as ‘a glow.’ He’s always seeking out one, consequently losing the other and it doesn’t matter because it’ll reappear in the next verse, anyway. The effect is disorienting as great losses and discoveries constantly canceling each other out with every passing chorus. This is what probably causes Dimitri to start “walking with my hand” over sand “where the sun has never shone.” Don’t know if this is intended to be a “Snowblind”-type reference to cocaine or if he’s just freaking out but it might be the latter because he ends the whole thing with:

“I’m on my way!
I found the land!
The sun is back and I lost my
MIIIINNNDDD…!!!”

...while screaming that last word in raped Sabine woman tones.

Underneath and shot through all this oasis-lacking trauma is keenly performed hard Rock: A steady rhythm of pummeling drums, anchoring bass and cyclical, double-tracked guitar phrases that extend into long, languid guitar solo buffeted by constant cymbals. Weird abominations also abound with an unidentifiable rhythmic clicking, screams from the background female vocalists that punctuate the song without rhyme, reason or rhythm (and timed to great startling effect) while splashy cymbals resound backwards and upfront. These dynamic pulsations are trebly so regarding Dimitri’s voice as it gets jacked up to the studio ceiling with echo of excruciatingly undertow. In fact, EVERYTHING’S drenched in this ferocious vortex of echo to such a degree it creates a near-tangible audio after-image that hovers above for several seconds over every single word.

Although not listed anywhere on the single, the backing band responsible for all this raging hoopla were the Hellenic power trio Socrates. Then comprised of guitarist Yannis Spathas, bassist Antonis Tourkoyorgis and drummer George Trandalidis, after three albums these conium drunk guys finally got some excellent production for their brought-on ruckus courtesy of none other than Dimitri’s previous Aphrodite’s Child associate, ivory-tickler Vangelis. Hoo Yeah!

What an anomaly.

French pop star.

Born in Hungary.

Backed by Socrates Drank The Conium.

Produced by Vangelis.

1974.

It Rocks.

What the fuck...

Then again, the record does bear all the sonic evidence of being recorded at the glorious Europa Sonor Studios, Paris. Not only do the perimeters of its severe room echo match those found on Chico Magnetic Band’s singularly excellent LP, Quo Vadis’s “Zeppelin Party” single and Aphrodite’s Child’s “666” album but since Vangelis recorded “Earth” (his first solo/non-soundtrack album) there the previous year and produced this single, I’d have to submit that this only added fuel to the fire.