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Lina Koutrakos - Archives 1980 - 2015

   It was a time and place with an indelible signature all its own. When Lina Koutrakos descended upon New York City in her early 20s at the dawn of the 1980s, Manhattan's veneer was still jagged, not so self-consciously precious... and wickedly, wondrously daring.

   For those creative talents that would define the era... post Andy Warhol and pre-club kids... success meant scoring a gig at the Bottom Line (not launching your own YouTube channel). "Making it" was packing live rock club S.N.A.F.U. with a legion of fans (not logging thousands of Twitter followers). Music was shared face to face with sweat. Passion. Drive. And god knows, if you didn't have real talent, you were back on the bus to Omaha within months.

   Mind you, Lina had plenty of talent to offer. Her first NYC musical stop was a stretch of comedy clubs, warming up lead acts as a "relief singer." They included Catch a Rising Star, the Improv and Good Times. There, she connected with the likes of Yakov Smirnoff and a dude named Andrew Dice Clay.

   Lina soon aligned with renowned theater composer & arranger Dick Gallagher-who became her lifetime muse-where she meshed her rock & blues foundation with the cabaret world. Next, came kinship as a member of acclaimed "traveling"show "Downtown Divas," with performances at storied clubs the Ritz, the Limelight, Trax and the Palladium. Lina was named "Best Rock Newcomer" by The Village Voice and ultimately, she then became a regular at the famed East Village destination Bottom Line.

   Of course, there's much more to the story. She played before David Bowie, kissed Dennis Quaid, opened for Curtis Mayfield. performed before tens of thousands at Gay Pride in Central Park, sold out NYC's B.B. King, and counts Meryl Streep as a fan. But perhaps it's most important to note: Lina has made music her fulltime career, never faltering from fulfilling her god-given destiny.

   The musical triptych of 2015 album "Archives" not only represents the past three e decades of her personal journey: It is also etched with the milestones of an ingrained and resolute era in New York City that she helped define. What you are hearing is a collective of previously unreleased studio tracks and resurrected live recordings-all remastered by Grammy-nominated Engineer Roger Lian.

   Among the highlights of the album is the sensual "Calling Baby Back," written with Mark Hartman, which is among her defining career moments-fostering Lina's first review (among several) in Billboard magazine. Rollicking rock anthem "American Dream " (composed by Dick Gallagher) coulda shoulda been a song among all the pop/rock anthems on the "Footloose" and "Flashdance" soundtracks, with its crazy catchy chorus; while grinding, grimacing "Under the Rail" (written by frequent partner Rick Jensen) showcases all that is so unique about Lina's prodigiously burly vocal signature.

   The gorgeous French/English "Stone" is among few covers (from musical "Starmania"), recorded live in Paris at the Opus Cafe during Lina's late'80s residency in France-where the Greek "Navy brat" who grew up below the Mason-Dixon Line fostered a massive following; while "Roadhouse Sally," written by Dick Gallagher, demonstrates all that we treasure about Lina in a live setting-with an uproarious performance from her long-lived residency at the Bottom Line. The song is loaded with so many stops and starts, key changes (and roars of approval from the audience) that you'll feel the love with one listen.

   "Share of the Pain" is another Bottom Line live recording (from the late '90s), written with Dan Gross. The bluesy powerhouse production here is indicative of Lina's prime time at the club-when she regularly packed the stage with six musicians and three background singers. Talk about full-bodied.

   Lovely, oh-so pensive "Long Night" has also been a staple of Lina's long-lived live shows (inspired by the flick "Smooth Talk" with Treat Williams-who once approached Lina for a one-one outing), while the raucous, rapid-fire Jim Steinman-inflected "Innocent" is a slaphappy reflection of e decade s penchant for mega-production. This was also among her first studio sessions from Lina's early NYC days, recorded at the legendary NBC/Radio City Studios (now 30 Rockefeller Center).

   "Archives" is indeed a definitive musical journey that revisits so many highlights of the three-plus decades that Lina Koutrakos has indulged her dedicated followers This is a gift for all of us who have followed her through the years-and a reminder that looking back at a very different time, there are few things that haven't radical] altered course. And yet, blessedly, Lina's unwavering talent is as marvelous and potent a today as it was when this Downtown Diva was just beginning to scale her way up the career ladder.

- Chuck Taylor, Billboard Magazine

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