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What are mórtika?


The word 'mortis' in Greek underworld slang refers to a person who is both tough and elegant, the cool bearer of knife and suit. Mortika simply means songs about male 'mortes' and female 'mortisses'.



Mortika - Rare vintage recordings from a Greek underworld


Arko Records are truly delighted to be able to present this unique album. Compiled by Charles Howard, an Englishman based in Greece, who has previously compiled a number of excellent collections for American Rounder Records and the British Heritage label, it has been carefully remastered from the best available copies of the original 78s by sound engineer Ted Kendall, well-known for his remastering of, among others, Django Reinhardt’s recordings.

This is music usually called ’rembétika’, Greek music from an urban sub-culture mainly performed by musicians hailing from Piraeus and/or Asia Minor during the first half of the 20th century.

The songs on this CD were recorded between 1927 and 1946 in Greece, Germany and the USA.

There is also a real surprise in this collection, a contemporary recording of an older musician who, though he died very recently, was a true representative of this tradition rather than a ’revivalist’.



Mortika includes a 50-page book with exclusive photographs of the singers and musicians, complete lyrics of all songs both in the original Greek and in English translations, discographical data, and extensive information on the artists, on the instruments, and on several other aspects of the music.


The artists represented on this CD span from those well-known at the time, such as the ’Patriarch of the Bouzouki’, Markos Vamvakaris, Rita Abádzi, one of the finest Greek singers of all time, and Jack Halikiás, bouzouki recording pioneer, to more obscure musicians such as Frangískos Zouridákis or the mysterious figure known as ’Kostis’.


The lyrics are particularly worth studying for their raw, direct quality. They touch on typical underworld themes such as drugs, theft, murder and prison, but also on such general themes as unrequited love and having a good time.


As well as fantastic singing you will hear many different instruments: bouzouki, baglamas, mandolin, mandola, accordion, violin, guitar,  and santouri; and even worry-beads against an ouzo-glass.



Track list


01 To Mistirio – Ioannis Halikias "Jack Gregory" (instrumental)

02 Erhome To Tiho Tiho – Giorgios Katsaros

03 Kale Mana Dhen Boro – Spahanis

04 Dou Dou – Andonis Dhiamandidhis "Dalgas"

05 To Dhahtiri – Frangiskos Zouridhakis

06 To Toust – Harilaos Kritikos

07 Haramisa Ta Niata Mou – Kostas Roukounas

08 O Isovitis – Markos Vamvakaris

09 O Bohoris – Andonis Amiralis "Papadzis" (instrumental)

10 Touto To Kalokeraki – K Kostis

11 Dhervisis – Marika Papagika

12 I Hasiklidhes – Pol-Meraklis

13 Mes' Stou Tzambikou Ton Teke – Rita Abadzi

14 Mortissa Hasiklou – Markos Vamvakaris

15 Iroďni Ke Mavraki – Stellakis Perpiniadhis

16 Xeftilis – Ioannis Halikias '"Jack Gregory" (instrumental)

17 Stou Bezesteni Tin Avli – Sotiris Ghavalas

18 Kapnouloudhes – Dhimitris Gogos "Bayenderas"

19 I Avandes Tou Sofer – Andonis Dhiamandidhis "Dalgas"

20 Dhervisaki – Giorgios Katsaros

21 Kato Ap' Ti Skala Tou Papa – Nikos Vrachnas



 Track list (English Titles)


01 The Mystery – Ioannis Halikias "Jack Gregory" (instrumental)

02 I Creep Along The Walls – Giorgios Katsaros

03 Oh Mother, I Can’t Stand It – Spahanis

04 Dou Dou – Andonis Dhiamandidhis "Dalgas"

05 The Dachtiri – Frangiskos Zouridhakis

06 The Toust – Harilaos Kritikos

07 I Wasted My Youth – Kostas Roukounas

08 The Lifer – Markos Vamvakaris

09 The Bochoris – Andonis Amiralis "Papadzis" (instrumental)

10 This Summer – K Kostis

11 The Dervish – Marika Papagika

12 The Hash Smokers – Pol-Meraklis

13 At Tzambikou’s Teke – Rita Abadzi

14 Hash Smoking Mortissa – Markos Vamvakaris

15 Heroin And Hashish – Stellakis Perpiniadhis

16 The Loser – Ioannis Halikias '"Jack Gregory" (instrumental)

17 In The Bezesteni Yard – Sotiris Ghavalas

18 Hash Smoking Chicks – Dhimitris Gogos "Bayenderas"

19 The Cab Driver’s Perks – Andonis Dhiamandidhis "Dalgas"

20 Dervisaki – Giorgios Katsaros

21 Down by the Priest’s Jetty – Nikos Vrachnas




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