A groundbreaking collection of the legendary “Kostis,” the most enigmatic of all Greek rebetika artists. 12 tracks of truly unique guitar duets and black-humor lyrics chronicling the hash dens, prison culture and pickpockets of old Athens. Recorded under a pseudonym for export to the Greeks living in America, research has uncovered the journalist and cartoonist Kostas Bezos as the figure lurking behind the Kostis name, with ties to the famous singer Tetos Demetriades. Renowned for his slide guitar playing in the Hawaiian-style orchestra The White Birds throughout the 1930s, the Kostis recordings reveal an entirely different underworld of the macabre and illicit. The use of guitar in these now-classic rebetika songs display a virtuosity of finger-picked Near-Eastern modes and unusual tunings at the dawn of rebetika, when the bouzouki was yet to become supreme.
Restored and remastered from original 78 rpm discs by Michael Graves, “The Jail’s a Fine School” stands as an important document of an enduring mystery in Greek music, and a high standard for what was once a truly subversive art form.