Traditional Greek music has a long and proud tradition among Greek Australians, and now Apodimi Compania has been recognized in the National Film and Sound Archive’s (NFSA) annual “Sounds of Australia” list.
Rebetika Songs, Apodimi Compania’s first album, was recorded at Brunswick Records in 1987, and is listed among the 14 on the 2010 list.
NFSA Sound archivist Graham McDonald said the band, a group of young second and third generation Greeks who were living in Melbourne in the 1980s, deserved to make the cut.
“Here are these recordings – whether it be Greek music, Eagle Rock, a political speech or someone recording a bird song,” he said.
“It’s important to Australia’s social, cultural, historical and technical significance.”
The “Sounds of Australia” list also includes recordings of Daddy Cool’s Eagle Rock, Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech and John Curtin’s announcement of war with Japan.
Apodimi Compania was influenced by the revival of traditional Rebetika music in Greece in the 1980s.
“They listened to all this remastered stuff from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, and off they went, they learned a whole bunch of old songs and started playing,” Mr McDonald said.
“Then they started touring and eventually they moved to Greece, and they’re actually really successful.”
But, apart from the national significance of Apodimi Compania, Mr. McDonald said he’s a fan of the band’s music.
He saw them in Canberra when they toured Australia earlier this year.
“It was half an hour of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard,” he said.
John McAuslan was in charge of Brunswick Records, who recorded three of the band’s early albums.
“My first association with the band was in 1986,” he said.
“I used to go up to the old Retreat Hotel and see them on a Sunday night, so when Brunswick Records kicked off they were an obvious choice to record,” he said.
He said he’s not surprised they’re being formally recognized.
“Apart from the fact that they’re maestros of their instruments, their enthusiasm for the old Rebetika style and the research they put into it was an amazing work,” he said.
“They weren’t just musicians; they immersed themselves in the style.”
He said he maintains a personal friendship with the band members, although he said they haven’t yet signed any contracts with the NFSA.
“I’m sure the boys will be rather chuffed, as it is quite an honour,” he said.