(Special note: I have been unable to find a copy of all four tracks on the EP, so this review is written without having ever heard “So Dreamy”. So the mark out of ten is – unusually – subject to change. Though frankly I doubt it will.)
In a wayward year of odd Number Ones, this is one of the rummest. It isn’t the sort of thing I’d want to listen to very often, if at all, and if it was typical of the kind of records that top the charts, well, we wouldn’t be here. But there are enough intriguing touches on The Roussos Phenomenon to not dismiss it as wholly ridiculous. You are occasionally reminded that yes, this Demis Roussos is the same D.R. who released 666, a prog triple concept album about the Book of Revelation, the year before recording most of this…. slightly more accessible material. The phased synths on “My Friend The Wind”, for instance, are a pretty nice twist on the song. Meanwhile there’s the extraordinary wobbling voice – not being used on prime material here but with enough fire and conviction to make “Forever And Ever” slightly less disreputable than it ought to be. He can’t do much with the woeful “Sing An Ode To Love”, though.
I’m guessing that the public’s brief embrace of Roussos didn’t indicate any great swell of favour for Greek popular song (which was and remains a tough ask for the rugged British ear). Rather I would imagine it sprung from a) the suddenly Mediterranean climate making this kind of slow-baked saganaki sound good; b) accumulated memories of holidays during the Greek island package tour boom – these songs had been huge native hits for Roussos over the last few years; c) it being sung by a huge bearded bloke in a glittery kaftan. As a fat man with a beard myself, I think Roussos gets a slightly raw deal here – from garage rock to prog, through pop, opera and even a stab at hip-hop, he’s had a go at everything. Has any other artist tackled such a wide span of genres? But with the best will in the world I can’t claim that The Roussos Phenomenon is any real good.