ALBUM REVIEW

GEORGE PAPAVGERIS

Silent Majority

UNLaBELLED UNLABEL001 (60m)

AN OFFSHOOT of Robb Johnson ’s Irregular Records, UNLaBELLED is a co-operative for new singer/songwriters and if it continues to release albums of this quality it’s something we should all support.

Already gaining a reputation as a thoughtful and thought-provoking writer, Papavgeris’ earlier songs have already been picked up by the likes of Andy Irvine and Martyn Wyndham-Read and it’s easy to see why.  Unafraid to tackle the big issues such as the decline of the British fishing industry (Lowestoft Rock) and how age diminishes our youthful belief that we can save the world (The Flowers and the Guns); as well as less weighty subjects such as Vassiliki – a Greek flavoured story of how his maternal grandparents met – Papavgeris’ complex commentaries on the world around him are deceptively simple, with repeated listening revealing both lyrical and musical excellence.

There’s something reassuringly ‘old school’ about these songs, and Papavgeris’ slightly world-weary delivery perfectly suits his chosen themes.  Highly recommended.

Dave Haslam

Taplas Magazine, June/July 2003


George Papavgeris

 

Vital statistics: Inveterate white collar computer-basher;  30+ years with the best girl north of the South Pole (Vanessa);  a son (Martin, b1982); a daughter (Aliki, b1985); a grandson (Timmy, b2002); a dog (Lyddie, b1997); and we all belong to the amputee cat (Archimedes, spawned from the jaws of hell in 1993).

A short two years ago, if you'd asked me to write a song I would have laughed dismissively, believing myself incapable of penning the simplest tune, and deeply jealous of the many songwriters I admire.  Although always involved with music in some form or another, and first exposed to folk music in the early 70's at the Heritage Folk Club in Oxford, my songwriting career begun much later, and totally unexpectedly at that.  Having moved back to the UK after many years of living abroad, I rejoined the folk scene through the Herga and Maidenhead Folk Clubs in late 2000.  Suddenly, in April 2001, a combination of personal circumstances with the support of newly-found folk music friends acting as the catalyst brought on a cascade of songs (50 in the first year alone, 80 so far). Much to my surprise, many of the songs were liked and some were getting asked for by other singers. Less than a year since I started, on the 11th March 2002, I had the enormous pleasure to hear 'Heart of a sailor boy' by none other than Johnny Collins and for the first time I started to believe that perhaps I could make a small mark.  Since then, some 9 or 10 of my songs are sung by singers in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, NZ and the Netherlands, and two early albums ('Countryside like this' and 'Perfect moments') issued under a 'home label' with moderate success, for the non-commercial world of folk music.  My third album, 'Silent Majority', was released in March 2003 under UNLaBELLED, a new co-operative label set up under Robb Johnson's Irregular Records.

Being Greek born and bred (Salonika, 1953), but having lived mostly in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium after the age of 18, my influences are naturally varied: Greek and Middle Eastern traditional, byzantine music, European mediaeval, English traditional, American folk, ragtime and blues.  Being a child of my time I carry a lot of 60's and 70's rock as well as Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Jake Thackeray and Jeremy Taylor in my head.  Somewhere above all those stand Clive James and Pete Atkins.  In addition, I am a late, but fanatical, convert to the music written by Stan Rogers, Dave Webber, Sydney Carter, Cyril Tawney, Dan McKinnon, Robb Johnson, Steve Hughes and I keep finding new ones to be jealous of all the time. So I suppose that qualifies my tastes as 'catholicâ'!

But through all that hotch-potch of influences I carry a thread, which must have always been there, though it became more obvious to me as I started writing songs:  I am driven by a love of people with their imperfections BECAUSE of their imperfections and their constant struggle to improve themselves and the society they live in.  I still carry idealism too, no longer naive but tainted already with the compromises and stresses of adulthood.  In a way, my songs are a cry of fear that I might one day lose my idealism altogether.  But still, in my world all is not gloom and doom;  there are lots of perfect moments, and I am determined to enjoy and celebrate them all.