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Aphrodite's Child - 666 CD (album) cover


Aphrodite's Child


Symphonic Prog

3.90 | 405 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Progressive Rock has always been drawn to fantasy themes, so it's no surprise that it would sooner or later steal a few pages from the Holy Bible. I write that, be assured, with tongue lightly in cheek, which is the only way to approach both the overblown extravagance of this 1972 album and the wacky apocalyptic fever dreams that inspired it.

The New Testament Book of Revelation was tailor-made for a Prog Rock concept album, especially in the spiritually adventurous and drug-addled early 1970s. GENESIS would later cover the same thematic ground in their epic song "Supper's Ready", with better poise and in a quarter of the time. But their more refined symphonic interpretation lacked the untethered psychedelic overkill of this album, not to mention the orgasmic shrieking of guest star Irene Papas.

Goodness knows how closely the '72 version follows Scripture, but was that really its aim? In retrospect, the adaptation here by multi-instrumentalist Evangelos Papathanassiou (aka Vangelis) pandered more to counter-culture conceits, with the same calculated efficiency he would later bring to his solo albums and soundtracks. "We are the people / the tambourine people / the alternative people" is a more or less typical lyric. And the album's opening chant ("We got the System / to f*ck the System") can be heard as a quintessential anti-establishment mantra.

The album, originally two LPs, covers a lot of territory in 78-minutes, earning high marks for diversity and chutzpah. Side One of the first record re-imagines the fall of Babylon as an Arena Rock event, then moves to the haunting poetry and solo piano of "Loud, Loud, Loud", then kicks into the full-throttle cosmic rock of "The Four Horsemen", followed by some electro-vibe Aegean folk music, followed in turn by even more portentous narration...

...And on it continues, throughout four sides of vinyl: into the Battle of Locusts, the Wedding of the Lamb, the Capture of the Beast (complete with rattling chain effects), plus the Seven Bowls, Seven Seals, Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets, so forth and so on. All of it incredibly ambitious, suitably pompous, and wildly creative in an undisciplined sort of way. Much like the car depicted in the sleeve art it's an album careening headlong into a masonry wall: a messy but impressive experience, musically compelling but often even more incoherent than its source text.

But that same stylistic inconsistency is possibly a saving grace, because if one episode doesn't grab your attention (hard to believe) the next won't be too far behind it. Disregarding the hodge-podge insanity of the climactic twenty-minute medley "All the Seats Were Occupied", the album packs 23-separate tracks into 58-total minutes: you do the math.

Don't blame Vangelis for trying to stuff all his eggs into one colorful basket. This was the sound of a young musical prodigy with aspirations beyond his native Greece, and as yet (thankfully) unaware of his own limitations. Under the circumstances a few cracked shells ought to be expected, but who cares? We can only hope the actual End of Days will sound this entertaining.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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