The singer sounds uncannily like Eddie Vedder, and the guitars snort and whine in a dirty tangle, like Radiohead's "My Iron Lung" played by one of Captain Beefheart's early Magic Bands. Where are we and when? Greece, 1973. Socrates Drank the Conium were a quartet from Athens popular enough to make a few albums. But on a recent trip to Greece, I was assured by the guys at the High Fidelity record shop in the seaside town of Nafplio that Socrates' '73 album On the Wings (Polydor) — a collector's item that fetches hundreds of euros on vinyl — was their best. It sounds like it. English was obviously the band's second language ("Death Is Gonna Die," "This Is the Rats"), but the rock is gnarly and prescient: "Breakdown" and "Who Is to Blame" sound like jagged art-rock Pearl Jam. The CD reissue will be tough to find and pricey outside Greece. Write to High Fidelity for help (highfidelity.com.gr). Tell them I sent you.
[From Issue 1059 — August 21, 2008]