Aphrodite’s Child “666”

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#666 in the Series) is Aphrodite’s Child, 666

Well you knew we’d have to come up with something special for entry #666 didn’t you? Ok, you my friend are correct.

I remember always looking at this album when I’d walk past it at good ol’ Hegewisch Records.  For some odd reason, it always seemed to be in front of the bin, staring at you, challenging you to pick it up and look at it.  The bright scarlet red cover with those giant black outlined 666 letters just jumped out at you. It was kind of spooky actually.  Then when you finally did pick it up you were surprised. It was darn heavy! You weren’t expecting a double album were you? No, you didn’t know what to expect. But you picked it up and it was heavy, heavy and thick as the packaging was quite the project as well.  It was a very ambitious undertaking from start to finish. Once you had it in your hand the temptation to buy it just got too strong, You had to have it! But then you were wondering if you needed to hide it when you got it home! Heck you were 14, 15 and bringing something called 666 into the house. Yikes!

Aphrodite’s Child were formed in the late 60s in Greece. They were a three piece led by Vangelis Papathanassiou (or as you may know him, just Vangelis. Think “Chariots’ of Fire.” Think Jon Anderson) Vangelis wrote all the music on this album. They lyrics were written by a non-band member named Costas Ferris. Vangelis also was the producer. He played most of the keyboard parts along with some flute. Demis Roussos played bass and guitar and also handled the lead vocals. Lucas Sideras was on drums and also added the odd lead vocal every so often.

This is a concept album in the truest form.  It tells the story of Apocalypse of St. John.  If you can sit through all four sides in one setting, well, then you’re a better man or woman than me. I like the project, but it’s quite a bit in one sitting.  Not to mention that I’ve read this the finished project was whittled down from an even longer piece.  One track was even said to be as long as 39 minutes in length. I’d tell you the name of the song but it’s title is just the infinity symbol.  The finished project ended up timing at about 78 minute’s total.

Recorded began in late 1970 and concluded in 1971.  Even though this was a period that almost everything hit the shelves, Mercury Records didn’t know what to do with it. They eventually put it away as they tried to decide.  Not only did the subject matter and length have them more than a little freaked, but they also didn’t really care for a liner note entry that read “This album was recorded under the influence of Sahlep.” The Mercury people didn’t know what Sahlep was. Was it a drug? Was it an occult?  It turned out that it was a local drink made from a powder made from roots of an orchid. The label was a little happier now.  By this time, Roussos and Sideras had released solo album that had a little traction so Mercury decided to go ahead with the project.  It was now mid-1972.

Vangelis of course would go onto bigger and I guess you could say better things. He did win an Academy Award for Chariots of Fire and would release and album with Jon Anderson.

I don’t even know if I could say this was ahead of its time, because I’m not sure if it ever had a time.  It was interesting and quite bizarre.  It had that feeling of an album that was made just to do it and hope that word of mouth could sell it. It wasn’t going to get a ton of label help, as they quickly learned, and it wasn’t going to on many radio stations. I think the great station TRIAD RADIO did play it hear in Chicago. But I give them credit for pulling it off.  People knew about it, some people did buy it. It would also be the last time we’d hear from them as a group.  I’m glad they made it. Ambition is a good thing, even when you might be way out over your skis.

We have the complete piece bellow. Give it a listen. I know you’ll just love it. Don’t expect to dance to it and don’t tell your parents about it.

— Larry Carta

Track Listing

Side One

  1. “The System” 0:23
  2. “Babylon” 2:47
  3. “Loud, Loud, Loud” 2:42
  4. “The Four Horsemen” 5:53
  5. “The Lamb” (Instrumental) 4:34
  6. “The Seventh Seal” 1:30

Side Two

  1. “Aegean Sea” 5:22
  2. “Seven Bowls” 1:28
  3. “The Wakening Beast” (Instrumental) 1:11
  4. “Lament” 2:45
  5. “The Marching Beast” (Instrumental) 2:00
  6. “The Battle of the Locusts” (Instrumental) 0:56
  7. “Do It” 1:44
  8. “Tribulation” (Instrumental) 0:32
  9. “The Beast” 2:26
  10. “Ofis” 0:14

Side Three

  1. “Seven Trumpets” 0:35
  2. “Altamont” 4:33
  3. “The Wedding of the Lamb” (Instrumental) 3:38
  4. “The Capture of the Beast” (Instrumental) 2:17
  5. “∞” 5:15
  6. “Hic et Nunc”     2:55

Side Four

  1. “All the Seats were Occupied”  19:21
  2. “Break” 2:59

Personnel

Aphrodite’s Child 

  • Silver Koulouris – Guitar, Percussion
  • Demis Roussos – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
  • Lucas Sideras     Drums, Vocals,
  • Vangelis – Bass, Flute, Keyboards, Percussion, Vibraphone, Vocals
Additional Musicians
  • John Forst – Narrator
  • Harris Halkitis -Bass, Conga, Drums, Percussion, Sax, Vocals
  • Irene Papas – Vocals
  • Michel Ripoche – Sax, Trombone
  • Vannis Tsarouchis – Vocals
Here’s Part 1 in its entirety followed by Part 2

Posted by Larry Carta


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