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The White Rose of Athens

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Album Review

The rapid spread of Nana Mouskouri's international popularity in the early 1960s is evident in the linguistic diversity of this compilation. The first eight tracks were recorded in French, in Paris in 1961; the next two in German, in Berlin in June 1961; and the remainder of the 27 cuts (including five songs used in the documentary Greece, Land of Dreams) done in Greek in 1960 and 1961. In comparison to Greek material she did in a slightly earlier phase of her career, from 1958-1960 — handily available on another compilation on the El label, The Voice of Greece — the material and arrangements are somewhat slicker and more pop-oriented, and more apt to use cinematic orchestration on the Paris recordings in particular. But if it's not as striking in toto as the material on The Voice of Greece, there's still plenty to enjoy for Mouskouri fans, and for fans of eclectic, well-sung, early-'60s European pop vocals in general. The songs combine various degrees of mainstream period Euro-pop, slight Greek folk accents, soundtrack music, and light jazz. The Greek flavor comes to the fore on "Weisse Rosen Aus Athen" ("White Rose of Athens"), which in several languages would help popularize Mouskouri on an international level. Purists might prefer the earlier Greek-language numbers, preserving as they do a more pronounced, indigenous folk feel, and sometimes using more basic musical settings. The tunes from Greece, Land of Dreams often use backing vocals and certainly have a more melancholy feel than the ones cut abroad, which works to their advantage. The liner notes are comprised primarily of a rambling, lengthy excerpt from a recent interview of uncertain origin, but this is still a good way to hear Mouskouri in bulk during the era of her ascendance.


Born: October 13, 1934 in Athens, Greece

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Globally speaking, Nana Mouskouri is the biggest-selling female artist of all time. Her fluency in multiple languages -- Greek, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese -- enabled her to reach audiences all over Europe, the Americas, and even Asia. Possessed of a distinctive, angelic soprano -- the product of having been born with only one vocal cord -- Mouskouri was sometimes described as Europe's answer to Barbra Streisand. Her repertoire was varied enough to support the universal appeal she...
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The White Rose of Athens, Nana Mouskouri
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