Sometimes, you stumble across an album - for whatever crappy reason -
and you can scarcely believe the deal. Aphrodite's Child is one of
The thought of a Greek prog rock band from the late '60s/early '70s
didn't make a blind bit of sense to me... I mean... I thought that
only us Limeys were into all that. Of course, over the years, it
turns out that prog invaded everywhere.
But Greece? Surely only Demis Roussos and Vangelis come from Greece?
Surely they never made an LP together? They sure did... ambient
noodler teams up with AOR obese crooner to make monstrous prog
long-player, dedicated to the weirdest book in The Bible? Gimme!
Travelling 'round Europe they recorded some cool cuts in Paris and
London (in the famous Trident Studios) but surely no-one in 1972 was
prepared for a buncha Greek deadniks sermonising heavy apocalyptic
rock with Moogs, chimes and a backbeat so heavy that you could
convince yourself that the world was indeed, gonna start tumbling,
drowned in rainclouds heavy with blood and locusts...
...and that's not even including the weirded out spoken word sections...
666 (The Apocalypse of John, 13/18) is a double LP made by a bunch of
hippies ready to kick each other's head in. Tensions were high and
the whole thing wasn't helped by the fact one of the guys had just
got out of a stint in the army and that Vangelis was unleashing this
wild project, which he'd written with someone else - a lyricist
called Costas Ferris. Things were weird. It shows in an album that
has huge dreamy, cinematic passages, mixed with blood and fire rock
'n' roll, slowed down voices and a really weird piece of performance
art that saw Greek actress Irene Papas struggling to chant a mantra
while in the throes of hysteria.
Tensions in the band weren't helped as just prior to the LP going
out, Vangelis engaged in a huge and lengthy fight with Mercury
Records over the content of the album. It was too weird for the men
in the boardroom (it still is way too weird... but we're all
predisposed to weirdness thankfully) and worse yet, they seriously
objected to the song ' ' (infinity). Here comes Irene... shouting,
chanting "I was, I am, I am to come" while Vangelis beats the shit
out of every percussions instrument in the studio... for five minutes
over and over, with sexual groans and grunts, originally cut down
Add to this, the length of the thing. It's nearly 80 minutes long and
talking about the end of the world. The band continued to take the
piss by having "This album was recorded under the influence of
Sahlep" on the sleeve. The suits screamed at the thought of this
Sahlep thing... was it some drug they hadn't hearda yet? Was it some
occult sex ritual? Turned out it was a drink.
As weird as the incantations and segways were, even the more straight
forward rock would have scared the bods at Mercury half stiff. 'The
Battle Of The Locusts' is a ferocious wah-wah assault which suddenly
stops and demands "DO IT" before turning over to lightspeed mentalist
jam. Mercury stalled and stalled and the band split. 'The Beast' is
one of the weirdest tracks you'll ever hear!
Roussos released a solo LP, presumably broken up and bits after the
headfuck of '666', which then saw Mercury finally agreeing to stick
it out a whole year after completion. To be on the safe side, they
put it out on subsidiary Vertigo Records... and one of the most
legendary prog LPs in history was born.
And so... in 2009... it still sounds fucking insane. It's an
excellent snapshot of a time when people in the music industry had
to, eventually in this case, buckle to the will of the artist. '666'
is a huge, expansive LP shot through some seriously weird eyes with
moments that are too wild to convey here... moments too goddamn funky
to let-on here. Thankfully it's on Spotify... so go seek...
definitely one for the headphones... it'll blow yer brains to vapour.