Ty Burr
February 22, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Greek Fire

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B-

Along with the zany 3 Mustaphas 3, the three members of Annabouboula (singer Anna Paidoussi and instrumentalists George Sempepos and Chris Lawrence) are the class clowns of world music — and on Greek Fire they’ve hit their sophomore slump. The group’s name is Greek slang for ”all mixed up,” an appropriate moniker for music that updates classic rembetiko — the passionate blues of lower-depths Athens — with funk bass, rock guitar, rap scratching, and a generally demented production approach. When Annabouboula’s juices are flowing — as on their debut, In the Baths of Constantinople, and on this album’s ”I’d Rather Set Myself on Fire” and ”Baby Wants Kisses” — the results are thrilling, like sticking your head in a global jukebox that’s careening out of control. Unfortunately, most of the songs here develop one or two musical ideas instead of the usual 17, and the loopy abandon that marked Constantinople is largely missing. Worse, when the group tries straightforward pop rock on ”Dreams Come True,” it’s a straightforward disaster, with an unappealing melody and klutzy lyrics (”You don’t believe in voodoo/But it believes in you”). Greek Fire still has more ambition and audacity than anything you’ll catch on MTV, but by Annabouboula’s own terms, it’s a letdown. B-

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