Pyx Lux

An Appreciation

by Pavlos Andronikos


Pyx Lux was a major Greek rock band.[2] It was formed in 1989, released its first recording in 1990, and broke up in 2004. By any standard it was one of the truly great rock bands. Its three key members—Filippos Pliatsikas, Bambis Stokas, and Manos Xydous—were excellent songwriters and lyricists, and as a band they produced songs which were inventive, poetic, experimental, pioneering, and popular. They were much influenced by English and American rock, and seem to have thought of their music as being in that tradition to some extent. However they were not narrow in range and achieved a satisfyingly organic fusion of rock and Greek musical traditions. This is particularly true of their penultimate studio album The Climbing Frames on the Grass Are Waiting For the Children.[3] In my view, it represents the peak of their achievement—their Sgt. Pepper's. It is a rich and wide-ranging two-CD album on which almost every song is a classic.

Although I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that the band modelled itself on the Beatles, nevertheless the band’s development does bring the Beatles to mind. Pyx Lux’s first albums were pop rather than rock, with catchy melodies matched to sophisticated lyrics, and as they developed they engaged in pioneering experiments and developed a harder rock sound, much as the Beatles did.

Possibly in an attempt to attract a bigger audience outside of Greece, they introduced English language songs on to their last two studio albums, but for reasons I am still puzzling over, their English songs are not as successful as their Greek songs, and do not really convey their quality as a band. Perhaps to fully appreciate them it is necessary to understand their Greek lyrics and appreciate them in their Greek context...

Of the English-language songs, “Someone Wrote ‘Save Me’ On a Wall” (with Eric Burdon singing lead) and “All My Angels Falling” (with Marc Almond) are well worth a listen. Both are from their last studio album Joyous In the City of Fools.

Much more successful are their songs which include only some English lyrics: “You Get In Love”, a driving rock song with a great riff (from the album Are There Any Goldfish Here?, but I prefer the much heavier live version on End), and “Flip-side Europe”, a venomous reggae-inspired song (from Joyous In the City of Fools). Perhaps in this category one could also include their collaboration with Sting and the Corsican band I Muvrini on the excellent three-language version of “Terre D’ Oru”.

* * * * *

In their time, Pyx Lux were one of the most popular bands in Greece. They were also very influential. As one critic, Sotiria Malfa, put it: “The stamp of Pyx Lux on Greek music of the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 00s is something more than profound.” [4] Another critic, Pavlos Zervas, wrote that the demise of Pyx Lux

…leaves the Greek music scene significantly poorer, since it is losing a band which granted us unique, unbelievable moments, and which retained for all these years a character all its own—a character which was tending to become a “school” followed by many artists and groups. It is not chance that after the appearance of Pyx Lux, phrases like “Clone Pyx Lux” were used to characterise other groups and their music.[5]

A third commentator describes them as a “phenomenon”:

No matter how hard you try to describe the phenomenon Pyx Lux, the truth is very difficult to put into words. We are talking about one of the greatest bands the Greek music scene has known, a fact which is evident not so much from the number of records sold, which is phenomenonal for a Greek group, or their longevity, but from the unique feeling which was created between Pyx Lux and their beloved public. [6]

This special relationship with the public is noted by other commentators, including Pavlos Zervas in his review of the band’s final album End:

The End for a band which for 15 years now has had a unique relationship with the public. The End for Pyx Lux who are still today the greatest group, in terms of their reach and influence, that the Greek music scene has known.[7]

* * * * *

Initially the members of the band were Filippos Pliatsikas, Bambis Stokas, Sakis Stamoulis, and Panayiotis Spyropoulos. Their professional recording career began with a demo cassette which they delivered to EMI in Athens:

It was the beginning of the summer of 1989. We were gathered in the office of the producer Secundus Buchayer and his then secretary Maria Parousi, when the group that later became Pyx Lux appeared.... The three who came were Bambis, Sakis “Kounoupis” (Stamoulis is his real surname) and Panayiotis Spyropoulos. Filippos was absent. I accepted the [demo] cassette, and having greeted us politely, they left. Morning coffee was an opportunity for us to listen to it, before it went to Manos and Secundus... I was working in Foreign Repertoire, Maria didn’t listen to Greek music, so superior criticism and nitpicking were a given... But it didn’t happen like that. We liked it; and I always remember from that first cassette an early performance of “Why” [“Γιατί”], which much later appeared on their third album. Naturally Manos liked the cassette even more![8]

Manos Xydous, then Marketing Director at EMI, liked it so much he later joined the band. Another member of staff, Dimitris Fergadis, the head of Sales, proposed their name Πυξ Λαξ.[9]

Of the four members of the band mentioned by Vasilis Konstantoulakis in his account of the submission of the demo tape, two left the band in its early days: Panayiotis for reasons not known to Konstantoulakis, and Sakis “probably because he was bored” (“μάλλον βαριόταν”).[10] These departures would have been after the first album, which states on the back cover that:

      Pyx Lux is:

Informally Manos Xydous was a member of the band from early in its recording career—he contributed songs to all of their albums, including the first, and is pictured (if I am not mistaken) on the cover of the second album along with Bambis Stokas and Filippos Pliatsikas. (See image above.) At some point he gave up his job at EMI Greece and formally become a member of Pyx Lux. It can be deduced from what Konstantoulakis says that this must have happened sometime after the recording of “Let Her Talk” for the third album (“We all knew that informally he [Manos Xydous] was now a member.”), and before the band went to Oxford to record “My Loneliness Everything”.[11]

Their first promotional performance was at Laleousa on Ethniki Odos, a club known not for rock but for laika (a popular song style based on traditional forms). This was followed by an appearance for the media at the Rodon in November. Vasilis Konstantoulakis remembers it was a beautiful night (“όμορφη βραδιά”), and remembers that Filippos Pliatsikas said they would return and play there again. They did after three years, with three sold out concerts.[12]

It was their third album, 1993’s The Winter Sun Makes Me Melancholy which firmly established their reputation in Greece. It included their first hit, “Let Her Talk”, a song by Manos Xydous which was sung on the album by a guest singer, the popular singer of laika Vasilis Karras.

Their next album, For the Princes of the West Bank earned them a gold record, [13] and the nickname “princes of the west bank”. It was followed by their first platinum album: The Bogeyman Sings Alone At Night.

In 1997 they released an album (Live Recording at the Sacred Way) and single (Evening Stroll on the Sacred Way) in collaboration with one of Greece’s long established top singers George Dalaras. Both discs went platinum.

Their biggest selling record was the album Shine (1998), [14] made up mostly of music and songs from the film by Dimitris Panagiotatos My Loneliness Everything (Μοναξιά μου όλα). [15] It includes a fine version in very-free-translation of Bob Dylan's “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” from Street-Legal.

Shine was followed in 1999 by another commercially very successful release—the double album Are There Any Goldfish Here? Half of the album was new songs and the other half live recordings.

In 2002, the first year of the Arion Music Awards, Pyx Lux won the best Rock/Alternative Album award for The Climbing Frames on the Grass Are Waiting For the Children. The album also earned Pyx Lux the award for best group in the Entechno category.[16] This feat was repeated in 2004 with their last studio album Joyous In the City of Fools.[17]

In 2004 the band announced in a television interview that they would be breaking up after two goodbye concerts. The concerts were scheduled for 18 September in Athens and 20 September in Thessaloniki. Tickets for the Athens concert were sold out within a few hours, and a second concert was arranged for 19 September.[18] Their final album, called simply End is a recording of the first goodbye concert in Athens.[19]

However it wasn’t quite the end. In 2011 the band staged a number of concerts in memory of Manos Xydous, who had died suddenly of a heart attack in the previous year (13 April 2010) at the age of 56.

To be expanded...

Pavlos Andronikos
Last revision: 16 Sept. 2013



  1. This article started life as a Wikipedia entry. For a while I was intrigued by the idea of Wikipedia and decided to investigate by becoming a contributor. I liked the idea of many individuals contributing voluntarily from their store of knowledge, and the principle of open access for any would-be writer/editor seemed attractive. However I soon came to realise that, human nature being what it is, Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia—it is often also a battleground. There are serious problems whenever Wikipedia ventures into disputed or politically sensitive areas of knowledge (e.g., see the articles on the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus), or simply when some individual with little awareness of the limitations of his/her expertise decides to edit and “improve” an article. When that article is one that you have spent time and effort on, the temptation to jealously guard your handiwork becomes very strong—strong enough to move you to move it to a safer place...

    Apart from that, Wikipedia expects articles to be written from a “neutral” point of view, and does not welcome original “research”. This is fair enough, but it does mean that evaluations need to be quoted from external sources rather than made by the contributor.

    An aspect of Wikipedia I do like is that one can develop an article over time, adding to it as one gathers information, yet still having it available to readers. That is what I propose to do with this article. As it stands at present it is by no means complete, but I will add to it and refine it until I am satisfied. This will take a fair while—detailed information about Pyx Lux is hard to find here in Australia, and I have lots of other demands on my time.

  2. On some of their albums, a Latinised spelling of the band’s name is also given: “Pix Lax” on Difficult Times (1991); “Pyx Lax” on Joyous In the City of Fools (2003). However, I have chosen to render the band's name in English as Pyx Lux, because “lux” is how the modern Greek λαξ sounds—“lax” gives a quite different pronunciation.

  3. I am using my own translations of the Greek titles. The original Greek titles can be found in the discography.

  4. Review of From Here and There... by Sotiria Malfa at Retrieved on 20 March 2010. My translation.

  5. Review of End by Pavlos Zervas at Retrieved on 20 March 2010. My translation.

  6. “Πυξ Λαξ: Χαρούμενοι στην Πόλη των Τρελών”, 18 July 2003 at Retrieved on 20 March 2010. My translation.

  7. Review of End by Pavlos Zervas at Retrieved on 20 March 2010. My translation.

  8. Vasilis Konstantoulakis in the booklet which accompanies Best of Pyx Lux, 2009. My translation.

  9. See Vasilis Konstantoulakis, Best of Pyx Lux, 2009. Πυξ Λαξ is ancient Greek and means “punching and kicking”.

  10. This could also be understood as “he couldn’t be bothered”.

  11. See Vasilis Konstantoulakis, Best of Pyx Lux, 2009. They chose Oxford because they wanted to use the studio which Radiohead had used to record ”Creep”.

  12. See Vasilis Konstantoulakis, Best of Pyx Lux, 2009.

  13. Recorded from June 1993 to March 1994 at the studio IN, Agia Paraskevi, Athens and released in 1994 on the Harvest label by Minos-EMI. The West Bank is western Athens.

  14. See Vasilis Konstantoulakis, Best of Pyx Lux, 2009.

  15. See “Μοναξιά μου όλα (1998)” at (Retrieved Sept. 2011.)

  16. See Βραβεία Αρίων 2002 at (Retrieved Nov. 2009.)

  17. See Βραβεία Αρίων 2004 at (Retrieved Nov. 2009.)

  18. See “Με ανκόρ!” Ελευθεροτυπια, 13/09/2004. (Retrieved Sept. 2011.)

  19. According to the album’s sleeve notes.