First-rate vinyl reissue of Mark Eitzel's controversial eighth solo
album which was recorded with a group of Greek traditional
In late 2001, Mark Eitzel travelled to Athens to work on his eighth
solo album with an ensemble of traditional Greek musicians.
'The Ugly American', the resulting LP, a collection of reworkings of
his material both with the American Music Club and in his solo work,
would become the most controversial and divisive of Eitzel's career,
winning praise in some quarters, but being seen by some fans as too
far removed from his roots in Americana.
Seventeen years on from its initial release in 2003, 'The Ugly
American', which is being reissued in a remastered vinyl edition of
500 copies on its original European label Tongue Master Records,
stands up well.
With sublime backing from the Greek musicians, Eitzel's honeyed
vocals and portraits of love, regret and loss have never sounded
better, whether on American Music Club classics such as 'Western
Sky', 'Jenny' and 'Last Harbor' or lesser known tracks. including
his first solo single 'Take Courage' and also 'What Good is Love?',
which was only previously available as a live track.
It is, however, the Greek musicians -Panos Tolios (drums), Dimitris
Baslam (double bass), Spyros Chatzikonstantinous (electric guitar),
Kyriakos Gouventas (violin, viola),
Manolis Karantinis (mandolin, tzouras, bouzouki), Manos
Achalinotopoulos (clarinet, pipes, whistle, zournas), Manos
Pirovolakis (cretan lyra), Manolis Famellos (acoustic guitar,
mandolin, backing vocals) and Elissavet Spanou (vocals) - that make
this album. They bring a gorgeous sultriness to 'Western Sky', a
shimmering folk sound to 'Take Courage' and a sense of spaciousness
and epicness to 'What Good is Love?'
Best of all is the final track 'Love 's Humming', and the one song
not written by Eitzel, but by band leader and proudcer Manolis
Famellos. Surging and orchestral in sound, it tells of love
rediscovered, and in its theme of renewal and rebirth serves as a
symbol for the album itself.
'The Ugly American' is a brave and experimental album, and, unfairly
maligned on its initial release, with this excellent reissue