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Vangelis Spiral album cover
3.76 | 210 ratings | 19 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Spiral (6:55)
2. Ballad (8:27)
3. Dervish D (5:21)
4. To The Unknown Man (9:01)
5. 3+3 (9:43)

Total Time: 39:24

Bonus Track on 2013 remaster:
6. To The Unknown Man (Part Two) (1977 B-side) (2:33)

Line-up / Musicians

- Evangelos Papathanassiou / keyboards, synthesizer (Yamaha CS80, ...), sequencers, electric piano, electric organ, harmonica, brass, timpani, percussion, processed vocals (2), arranger & producer

Releases information

Artwork: Michael Hudson

LP RCA ‎- RCALP 3022 (1977, UK)

CD RCA ‎- ND70568 (1989, UK) New cover art
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2423 (2013, Europe) Remastered by Vangelis with a bonus track

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and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy VANGELIS Spiral Music

VANGELIS Spiral ratings distribution

(210 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

VANGELIS Spiral reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
4 stars Probably my favourite Vangelis album.The opener is just stunning.The sweeping rolls of cascading electronics are impressive especially when listening through the headphones.Ballad is a more laid back peice which offers a nice contrast while Dervish D is one of those very familiar peices that you will instantly recognise.The best track though is 'To The Unknown Man'.(Snooker fans may remember this as the peice that the BBC regularly used to accompany a collage of moments at the end of the world snooker championship). I love the way this builds and Vangelis control on the drum kit is excellent.The final track is a little bit of filler maybe but not bad.Overall this is one of the best Vangelis albums..maybe even the best??!
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I like this album even better than its excellent predecessor "Albedo 0.39". "Spiral" recaptures and maintains the aforementioned album's spirit, although I find the material in this album more solid and cohesive in terms of composition, despite not achieving the same level of excitement in the most epic passages. The amazing namesake opener is yet another Vangelis classic, catchy, atmospheric, and full of well crafted adornments: the section that fills the last two minutes is pure keyboard-centered progressive music, indeed, pompously seasoned with drums, tympani, bells and other orchestral percussives. After the splendid climatic closure the listener has to feel stunned and excited about what will come next. And the following track turns out to be an instrumental ballad precisely titled 'Ballad': keeping a similar symphonic flare to the previous track, this one explores more intimate realms, with a fluid interaction between the electric piano and the synths providing romantic nuances. 'Dervish D' is more pop- oriented, with a catchy motif and recurring synthesized sequence played on a funky pattern: I remember that, back in the late 70s, there were lots of Spanish TV and radio programs that used this track and 'Spiral' as background ambience and/or promo jingle. The most prominent touch of solemnity is reserved for the last two tracks, 'To the Unknown Man' and '3 + 3'. The former is constructed as some sort of symphonic poem, instilling a mixed ambience of melancholy and majestic celebration; the martial rhythm pattern is increasingly enriched by the addition of various textures and orchestrations craftily ordained, until the fade-out smoothly slides away. The latter is more frontally bombastic, almost Germanic (Wagnerian, may I say), albeit keeping a strong cohesion regarding the album's overall splendorous tendency. In conclusion, "Spiral" stands out as an absolute gem of electronic music's tradition, and of course, it serves as a vehicle for the expression of Vangelis' musical ambitions in a crossroad of electronic avant- garde and symphonic prog.

Review by soundsweird
4 stars Vangelis certainly put his sequencers to good use on this album. And, unlike so many synth artists who hit the "on" switch and let the sequencer play the same thing for way too long, Vangelis knew when to say when, tweaking the sequence a bit or adding enough other tracks to keep things varied and interesting. I would say that some of the tracks could have been shortened, especially the first half of "To The Unknown Man". At the time, this album seemed way ahead of its time.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spiral is an excellent album: the keyboards really begin to be more modern here. There are some drums and percussions parts. The sound and style are comparable to the previous "Albedo 0.39" album, except the compositions here are more accessible, more simple & melodic, and less jazzy. The track "Spiral" will surprise you with its sequencer driven into an infinite loop: impressive and dramatic: it is followed by symphonic & anthemic keyboards: very catchy! "Ballad" is a mellow track with some inoffensive vocals and accordion-like keyboards notes. "Dervish D" can almost be danced: it is very melodic and accessible. "To the unknown man" has modern floating & melodic keyboards, and it sounds like the on "Opera Sauvage" album: Vangelis will definitely keep this modern sound later. Finally, "3 + 3" has a very melodic & complex sequencer through melodic keyboards notes and floating + symphonic ones.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent music. 1977 and this is probaly one of Vangelis's top three ' progressive' sounding albums. The album is beautifully composed with elements of dreamy like layered songs to the more feverish psychedlic suite like the phenomenal ' Dervish Dance'. ' The Title track takes one on a slow meander witha steady mood before leading into the melancholic and sad ' Ballad'. Dervish D makes you want to dance ( yes even to Vangelis'!). Side two starts with perhaps the highlight of Spiral- ' To The Unknown Man', what a title for a song too. Spiral shows Vangelis nearing his musical peak in the 70's decade and is a must have to any Vangelis enthusiast.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Fanfare for the unknown man

"Spiral" is for me Vangelis most accomplished work, due in no small part due to the inclusion of the excellent "To the unknown man". The album; which is entirely composed, arranged and performed by Vangelis; consists of just five extended pieces. These are largely predictable, falling at the more commercial end of the territory occupied by bands such as TANGERINE DREAM and their various solo offspring.

The synthesiser sound used by Vangelis is relatively unadventurous, the opening title track indicating exactly what to expect from most of the album. The piece is however an inspired composition, which builds well to a pleasing climax. "Ballad" is indeed a softer piece, but even disregarding the lack of vocals it is not a ballad in the traditional sense. The track has a trance like repeating vocal like synth motif with occasional louder bursts of symphonic synth. Ironically (given the title), this is the most avant-garde of the tracks.

"Dervish D" takes us back to the Spiral theme (illustrated on the sleeve by a snake like image of a headphones jack lead in the sky) the track taking its inspiration from a Dervish dancer. The simple main theme will sound frustratingly familiar, possibly due in part to similarities with parts of RICK WAKEMAN's "White rock" album. There's no suggestion of one copying the other though.

Side two of the LP is split about 50/50 between two tracks. "To the unknown man" is essentially a simple repeated theme, but it stands for me as Vangelis best work. This ("Abadon's") Bolero like piece is structured around a five note call and six note response which builds through the nine minutes of the track to a climax and subsequent peaceful conclusion. At one point, snare drum is used to great effect to build the tension while symphonic synths drift behind the main theme. This is Vangelis' "Trilogy" or "Fanfare for the common man"; a wonderful piece.

"3+3" which closes the album is based around a sequencer theme. Such sounds were relatively new at the time, suddenly becoming familiar through the work of artists like Georgio Marauder (Donna Summer's producer). Instead of vocals though, Vangelis sticks to the familiar synth sound for the main theme. The piece has a slightly more symphonic structure, with occasional fanfares.

In all, an excellent example of the electronic prog genre. For those looking to dip a toe in this type of music, this is an excellent, largely accessible place to start.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Vangelis is the unknown man (at least in my record collection)

Vangelis is not the kind of artist that I thought that I was ever going to enjoy. However, some of his albums are indeed worth hearing. Spiral is one of his best (that I've heard so far, anyway). The album is instrumental and heavily dominated by synthesisers and this gives it a somewhat thin sound at times. But having that said, this is far away from New-Age music or music for relaxation. I wouldn't hesitate calling this progressive music even if there is very little rock in it.

Recommended, but hardly essential.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars The good Vangelis albums are following one another. The artist remains in the prog electronic territories, and as far as I am concerned, this is the best that he could do.

Imposing and bombastic church organ during the title track which is opening this work is setting the pace. We will be again confronted with some fine electronic prog. Some key lines are not far away from the great TD (but it is not the first time) and ELP fans should be attracted as well. It is an excellent opening number by all means.

"Ballad" is a soft and quite number which holds a recurring theme (some sort of vocalizing effects) constructed around melodic and ambient key lines. It is fully atmospheric. Not surprising, "Dervish D" is quite repetitive (these guys are repeatedly dancing around themselves).

The pièce de résistance of this album is of course the magical "To The Unknown Man". It is maybe some sort of a tribute to mankind (?) and this well known song is one of the best of the whole of Vangelis career. At least I feel so. It is not untrue that the theme reminds of the "Bolero". This song was aired quite a bit at the time of release (although 77 was not really the best year for electronic prog artists). It can be compared to some of JMJ best moments as well. This is THE highlight from "Spiral".

The sequencing machine is on-line for the closing and longest song "3+3". Grandiose and bombastic finale is the best of this track. It is of course difficult to follow such great a piece of music as "Unknown Man".

This album is pretty enjoyable and consists of very good tracks. Four stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars When goes closer to Tangerine Dream or electronic prog in general Vangelis is able to reach his highest moments.

Spiral is opened by the title track that starts with an "electronic waterfall" that permeates the whole track, and probably is the sonic representation of a spiral, on which he puts first a symphonic part based on organ, then it's back to pure electronic. Unlike the disconnected parts that composed his two previous works, both soundtracks, Spiral is clearly a "composition" with a complex structure on which Vangelis gives the impression to have spent some time and effort.

On "Ballad" there's an unusual utilization of voices on a non trivial sequence of open chords with short interludes of orchestral accents. Even if the 7 notes which are the core of the song are almost always present, there's a number of changes specially in the second half of the track that I see as an ancestor of Blade Runner Blues.

The third and last track of Side A is "Dervish D". Inspired to the Dervish Dance, is famous in my country for having been used to open a TV news for years. It's a good piece of electronic music, but it doesn't transmit the sense of circular movement, or spin, that's the main characteristic of the Dervish dance. It's just a sort of electronic boogie on which Vangelis uses sounds that can be found also on "The Friends Of Mr. Cairo".

"To The Unknown Man" is repetitive and based on major chords. It's the kind f track that can be found on "L''Apocalypse Des Animaux". Relaxing and easy. At half of the track some drums give it a "martial" sense that transforms it into a bolero. The change into the pop realm of the last minutes is very similar in the structure to "Alpha", which opens the B-side of Albedo 0.39.

"3+3" is the final track. Another electronic track that could remind to Edgar Froese. With an important difference: It doesn't last 35 minutes as it's usual for the German instrumentist. The difference with Froese stays in the melodic line. Repetitions are important but are not the principal element of the track that evolves in a melodic sense.

A good work, really better than the previous two, but not essential.


Review by Warthur
3 stars Spiral is Vangelis in a futuristic mode, without the underlying nostalgia that characterised his cyberpunk soundtrack to Blade Runner. Tackling the likes of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze on their own territory, Vangelis creates a finely sequenced and excellently produced synthesiser album here, and whilst he doesn't quite hit the high standards they attained so often during this time period he comes maddeningly close at points. A good enough album, although at points it does begin to sound like Vangelis just enjoying having access to all these cool synths and keyboards; whilst technically accomplished, it lacks emotional or compositional depth and therefore struggles to hold my interest.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Spiral" is a dynamic album from legendary Vangelis opening with a stunning synth powerhouse with the title track 'Spiral'. This track is a definitive Vangelis classic with huge arpeggios and ascending and descending synth runs over layers of lush keyboard pads. The melody is infectious and as good as anything he has set his hand to with later material. The spacey atmospheres are dazzling and if the rest of the album had been like thus it would have reached masterpiece status. Unfortunately it hurtles downhill after this brilliant start.

There are some bright lights along the way. 'Dervish D' has a nice melody but really is more a retread of 'Spiral''s themes than anything new and innovative, inspired by the whirling Dervish dancers. Occasionally the themes of tracks stand out but it really becomes quite uninspiring and drawn out at times.

'3+3' has an inventive use of a sequencer, reminding me of Pink Floyd's 'On The Run'. It finishes the note on a build-up of musical intonations and has a crystalline synth sound with interesting diversions into styles. The ending of the track changes into a fast paced rhythm with some wonderful violin soundalike flourishes.

The cover of the album is also worth noting, not a sci fi theme as many of Vangelis albums but a simple snaking depiction of a headphone jack spiralling from the sky towards us. Overall, it is a pleasant sounding album, not particularly brimming with brilliant master works, but relaxing and ebbing with crystal clear synths; and if that is what you are after, you will not be disappointed.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars In 1977, Vangelis was already amassing a pretty impressive discography as a solo artist and was at a high point in his creative output, gaining impressive critical and popular acclaim after releasing 'Heaven and Hell' in 1975 and 'Albedo 0.39' in 1976, two of his most acclaimed albums. These, among with his numerous soundtrack albums, were proving to give him a great following and he wasn't quite at the point where he was going to change that yet.

So, for 1977, he released another conceptual album with 'Spiral', an album that would be based on the themes inspired by Tao beliefs of the nature of the universe moving in spirals. His album cover was simple, a spiraled stereo headphone chord suspended in air with a blue sky as the background, quite a fitting picture of music meeting with space and philosophy. The album isn't quite as well known as the preceding albums, even though it is based more on simplistic melodies meant to reflect the simplicity of the spiral philosophy. It would also consist of distinct tracks more than most of his preceding albums.

This also marks the first time that Vangelis would use what would become his instrument of choice for a while, the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, thus giving us the sound that he would be famous for. The first side consists of 3 tracks. 'Spiral' is based off of an arpeggio which varies throughout the track, broken up to create a melodic feel with a throbbing percussive feel deep in the background. Dynamics are used quite effectively to go from a dreamy to a stately feel with an organ style sound providing a regal melody. The music later boasts multiple layers teasing each other, the sounds and textures making this a nice kaleidoscope of sound even becoming busy at times. 'Ballad' is the only track that consists of any vocals, and they are processed wordless vocals sung by Vangelis which provides an understated melody. It features an electric organ and harmonica, builds to a percussive climax with timpani and brass instruments and then quiets down being led out with a beautiful harmonica melody. 'Dervish D' is explained in the program notes as having been 'inspired by the Dervish Dancer who by his whirling realizes the spiraling of the universe'. It acts in contrast to the previous more pensive track with its funky foundation created by a sequencer making it quite accessible and creating an infectious hook for the album along with a catchy synth melody.

Side two consists of two tracks each in the 9 minute range. 'To the Unknown Man' is probably the most memorable track of the album. There are three main sections to the song. The first part moves along pushed by a moderately slow pulse and melody. The 2nd time through the melody, processed strings join in giving it a smoother and lusher feeling. A marching rhythm begins as the dynamics build up in the 3rd go round and brass embellishments are added in. You can hear some foretelling of 'Chariots of Fire' and other well-known Vangelis tracks in this track. After a while, the beat turns into a more rock-oriented style and the synths give up melody for a more improvised style based on that original melody. The last track is '3+3' which reflects the 6/8 meter that comes along later in the track. It all starts out with a fast running arpeggio-based line that sounds a bit complex even with a synth motif played almost in counterpoint. It sound a bit off-kilter until the percussion comes in and starts to divide everything up into a more accessible rhythm. The fast moving sequence that remains as a foundation gives this track the most futuristic sound of all of the tracks on the album. The music shifts from straight melody to a more improvised feel as it moves along and it is also the most progressive of the tracks.

This album is definitely one of the more structured albums from Vangelis, though it's not necessarily radio friendly so to speak as the tracks are all fairly long for radio play. However, it is more accessible than some of his previous albums. Even with this move towards the easier listening style, it is still one of his lesser acknowledged albums, though it is one that I feel is worthwhile with plenty in it to make it interesting and fun to listen to. It retains it's appeal much better than some of Vangelis' extremely accessible albums which were blatant attempts to steal some radio air play time. He doesn't resort to that quite yet, so this one is still great and interesting at the same time, though a slight step down from the last two non-soundtrack albums.

Latest members reviews

4 stars 1.Spiral ah this spatial intro, the synths that come and go, back and forth, from left to right, ah this sound that comes from the center, from your head, it swells, what else can I say, it's very linear, yes but before there was nothing; so these redundant sounds, these sounds coming from the unive ... (read more)

Report this review (#2928652) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Spiral is an album of quality without a doubt.Vangelis displayed a fine futuristic sound here. The album is more melodic than "Albedo 0.39" and I find it more favourable in that respect but it doesn't share the same atmosphere and emotion as some of the composer's early works such as "Heaven And Hel ... (read more)

Report this review (#1147554) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Thursday, March 13, 2014 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I certainly have not heard all that Vangelis has to offer, but I have heard enough to know that there is a good deal in his sizable repertoire that I really enjoy. Given the variety on offer, it is hard to know where to make the next move. Heaven & Hell and Albedo 0.39 while not perfect are among ... (read more)

Report this review (#812331) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A very exciting album, Vangelis' 1977 release, Spiral is a great accomplishment in the realm of electronic progressive music. It shows the artist very much finding the sound world he would be living in for quite some time, and also features some of his most virtuostic keyboard work. The synt ... (read more)

Report this review (#602790) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Back to the electronics, akin to Albedo 0.39, but again, this album is very different. Vangelis is clearly making the best use of existing technology. The title track explodes with an abrupt blast of sound, its arpegiations echoing into the cloudy distance. This pattern is the core of the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#287990) | Posted by Progosopher | Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another inspired offering from Vangelis, which shows the Greek composer gradual increase in control over his output. Not only is the music on this album entirely arranged, composed, performed and produced by Vangelis in his own recording studio, the sleeve artwork this time is also devised by th ... (read more)

Report this review (#158333) | Posted by UnearthlyChild | Friday, January 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A landmark, if flawed release by new age electronic composer Vangelis, 'Spiral' is a departure from the artist's bombastic 'space jazz' style as he adapts his synthesiser stories to more commercial, hook-oriented songs along the lines of Jean-Michel Jarre. This electro-pop direction would never d ... (read more)

Report this review (#83587) | Posted by Frankingsteins | Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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