The beginnings of Phoenix can be traced back to the 1960s. Phoenix was influenced by several British/Western European bands, but managed to create its own unmistakable style by extensively/intelligently using elements of Romanian traditional music. Phoenix was the best, or at least the best known, Romanian rock/progressive rock outfit. The band was highly popular in the 1970s, and then developed a huge cult following in the 1980's, after most of its members emigrated to West Germany and the Romanian communist authorities banned their music.
Phoenix was one of the very few Romanian bands that managed to, or was allowed to, produce three albums in only a few years in the 1970's. The band's music on these three albums was a mixture of rock/progressive rock and Romanian traditional music (the latter notable in the rhythms, melodies, the use of traditional instruments, percussion and unison singing). Their style influenced several other Romanian bands, especially Celelalte Cuvinte in the 1980s.
Mugur De Fluier ("Shepherd's Flute Bud") is their mellowest album, featuring mostly shorter songs, with folk influences. Romanian traditional music influences are also abundant. The longest tracks are particularly notable. "Strunga" ("The Sheepfold") is an amazing, ethereal piece that opens with a beautiful melody played on shepherd's flute. The band joins in and the song slowly grows in intensity until the release comes several minutes later in the form of a very short, angry, but effective guitar solo. The intensity then decreases and the shepherd's flute melody returns to close the track in a perfect circle. Amazing. I would include this piece in a best-ever list without hesitation. "Dansul Codrilor" ("Forest Dance"), another long piece, closes the album. It is a heavy, angry song (featuring an insane backward violin solo) that probably would have fit better on their next album. Mugur De Fluier also includes several short beautiful ballads, one of which ("Andrii Popa") was still getting a lot of air time on Romanian radio in the 1980s, but to circumvent the official ban was being credited to the band's lead vocalist (who actually wrote the song, and had not left the country).