Aphrodite's Child - 666
Vertigo
Progressive Rock
Disc 1: 16 songs (36:28) Disc 2: 8 songs (41:30)
Release year: 1972
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Sometimes, you just have to throw your hands up and admit defeat. Many have toiled from many different approaches to describe 666, the sort of prog rock epic that deserves mentioning in the same ambitious breath as such genre giants as The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. And few have succeeded in truly summing this strange beast up. Aphrodite’s Child are one of those bands that I’ve always just assume everyone knows about, only to find that very few people actually do – odd, considering the members. Both Greek world pop singer Demis Roussos and new-age keyboard-wizard and Chariots Of Fire author Vangelis took part, joining drummer Lucas Sideras and guitarist Silver Koulouris for the recording of 666, a two-part concept album about the Book of Revelations.

As you might expect from an album with that number on it released when it was, this caused some controversy then and since. And if the cover wasn’t bad enough, the music itself nearly stopped the album being released, the track Infinity in particular earning the ire of the band’s record label after they discovered it consisted of Greek actress Irene Papas having/faking an orgasm with musical accompaniment from Vangelis on drums! Although only a little over five minutes long, according to legend the piece was originally thirty-nine minutes long and recorded in a single take, which sums 666 up, really. This is a pretty wacky album, but what makes it a good wacky album is the strength of the musicianship and songwriting – even Infinity comes over as genuinely weird and creepy rather than laughable, and most of the tracks are outright tuneful, not something that can be said for much prog.

The general vibe, though, is fun. Pure, demented, fun. The System’s opening chant leads naturally into the tuneful acoustic rock of Babylon complete with copious crowd noise, and it only gets better from there. Some cloying narration here and there aside (Loud, Loud, Loud and The Seventh Seal being the worst offenders, although the latter is an interlude) the songs are genius, the melodic wonder of The Four Horsemen being a personal favourite with its slow opening and build into glorious prog heaven with effective falsetto vocals. Obviously space doesn’t permit an in-depth examination of all twenty-four tracks and near-eighty minutes of music, but the highlights are many. The group-singing and world-music vibe of The Lamb makes for a good change of style after The Four Horsemen, and the little dips into ambience on Aegian Sea are as enjoyable as the rest of the track.

This really is one of those albums that you put on and soak up, revelling in the variety and enjoying each little twist and turn as it comes. The Marching Beast’s Eastern rhythms and melodies may only reflect the subject matter in an early seventies sort of way, but no one could deny how enjoyable it is, complete with piano breakdown. Do It’s jazz assault is a welcome leftfield turn before the saxophones of Tribulation and bizarre funky singalong The Beast. Sure, Seven Trumpets is more Monty Python than anything, but by the time you’ve reached the fantastic nineteen-minute conclusion that is All The Seats Were Occupied, which features segments of all the album’s highlights in a mad prog ramble, it’s hard to not declare genius. As Aphrodite's Child wave goodbye with the Floyd-esque Break, there’s a real sense of a journey completed, of a ritual drawing to an end – 666 may not be the most famous concept album, but it’s certainly one that prog fans should hear.

Killing Songs :
Babylon, The Four Horsemen, The Lamb, The Marching Beast, Do It, The Beast, Infinity, All The Seats Were Occupied, Break
Goat quoted 87 / 100
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