Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
A musical giant left us last week – Vangelis …his tragic death from COVID complications occurred the night before I was due to broadcast my radio show on 1BTN. I thought it only fitting that I should play at least one track on the show, but then it hit me! How could I possibly choose just one track? I ended up playing five during the two-hour show. It’s on my MixCloud page if you’d like to hear it.
There have been lots of excellent tributes published in the days that followed, so I thought I’d just share some more of my favourite records with you all.
Vangelis – Earth – Vertigo LP 1973
Famous and sought after for the Balearic classic, Let It Happen, but this is by no means a one-track LP. The entire thing is a glorious, beautiful musical masterpiece, which flows through folk and acoustics, to electronics and atmospherics. A totally undefinable and totally wonderful album.
Vangelis – Blade Runner OST – Audio Fidelity LP 2013
It took 31 years to finally get a vinyl release, but it was worth the wait. Simply my favourite soundtrack of all time.
Odyssey – Who – WWA Records 7” 1974
An utterly spellbinding slice of dreamy Balearic folk-funk. Rumoured to be a leftover from the sessions for the Earth LP, although why it was left of is beyond me. A totally wonderful record, using Vangelis’ middle name – Odysséas – as an alias. Later covered by Demis Roussos and Italian progressive rock act Chrisma, and both these versions are also great, but this one steals the #1 spot. Only released on a UK 7”.
Vangelis – China LP – Polydor LP 1979
Includes Chung Kuo, a Café Del Mar classic, and arguably his most Balearic track. I opened my show on Friday with it. The Tao Of Love is also rather gorgeous.
Aphrodites Child – 666 – Vertigo LP 1972
While exiled in Paris in the late `60s / early `70s he forms a Greek super-group with Demis Roussos and friends, and records this progressive rock masterpiece. The track, The Four Horsemen, is an utter beast of a record. I played it on my radio show last week.
Vangelis – The Dragon – Charly / Oxford LP 1981
Recorded during the BYG sessions in 1971 and unreleased for a decade, the Balearic epic Stuffed Aubergine is my favourite, but all 3 tracks are great.
Vangelis – The Best Of Vangelis (or Themes) – Polydor 1992
This Spanish version of the compilation known everywhere else as “Themes” is worth tracking down, as it has 3 bonus tracks and is pressed on double vinyl, so sounds ace. This was previously the only way to get any Blade Runner tracks on vinyl, and still the only place to find tracks from his Mutiny On The Bounty soundtrack. Jolyon (Green) pointed out a few weeks back, that the cover photo is of Sean Young.
Vangelis – See You Later – Polydor LP 1980
Recorded just prior to Blade Runner, and there are lots of similarities. It even includes a version of Memories Of Green, which later made it onto the aforementioned score. There’s a great electronic chugger in the shape of Suffocation.
Donna Summer – State Of Independence – Warner Bros. 12” 1982
Written by Vangelis with Jon Anderson of Yes, and featured on the pairs 1981 LP The Friends Of Mr Cairo. However, this version, produced by another genius, Quincy Jones, manages to top theirs, and might just be the best produced record ever made (Rob – it`s a famous favourite of Brian Eno`s). It fuses the then modern electronics, with a soaring gospel-like vocal, and a wonderous African choir. Just joyous and will get its own post soon as it turns 40 this summer.
Astral Abuse / Vangelis – Who Killed the Dragon? (The BYG Sessions) – Finders Keepers Records 12” 2009
A nice reissue of this ultra-obscure French-only 7” of twisted, psychedelic, progressive, folk-funk, paired with the other 2 tracks from “The Dragon” LP. Great sleeve notes from Mr Votel.
I would have included the fabulous Magic LP from Demis Roussos, which Vangelis produced, for the incredible tracks, I Dig You – a version of the Odyssey record listed above – and its stunning version of Let It Happen, but my copy is in a box I can’t get to right now. Also, the Vangelis` album, Spiral, a killer electronic set, with the highlight for me being the stunning Dervish D, all twittering, and squelchy synths over a rolling rhythm track. I have this on a 12” somewhere. Must find it.
Thanks for the music, Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, or Vangelis, whichever you prefer.
You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print – personally I think they’d make damn fine record sleeves / disco bags.