Socrates / Socrates Drank the Conium


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Socrates -- initially known by the more unwieldy moniker Socrates Drank the Conium -- were one of the best-known Greek rock bands of the early to mid-‘70s, and one of the few to earn a reputation in the rest of the world. On their first three albums they pursued a tough but technically proficient brand of post-psychedelic hard rock that occasionally revealed a touch of prog influence, but on their 1976 release, Phos, the band underwent a major stylistic shift, and embraced those prog leanings with open arms. The main facilitator for this change was famed keyboardist Vangelis, whose prog ensemble Aphrodite's Child preceded Socrates as Greece's rock ambassadors to the wider world. Vangelis came on board as producer and keyboardist for Phos (also contributing a little of his compositional talent), enabling Socrates to make the leap from thinking man's hard rock to artier, more complex song structures and arrangements. There's still plenty of bite to the guitars on most of the tracks, but Vangelis' keyboards take an active role, especially on cuts like the lovely midtempo instrumental "Every Dream Comes to an End," which he co-wrote with the band. But that's not the only route through which Socrates reach out into proggier areas here -- the pastoral folk-rock of "The Bride," for instance, is strongly reminiscent of Jethro Tull, and the complex lines and rhythms intertwining on "Time of Pain" aren't far from Gentle Giant territory. Not many of Socrates' hard-rocking contemporaries were ever able to take an evolutionary step like this with such success.

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