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The story of the Aphrodite's Child album 666

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The album 666 by Aprhodite's Child is one of the most superb Art-Rock works of all time, combining progressive Rock with crucial concept themes.

Here you can find important background information about this album.
Special thanks to: Costas Ferris and Dennis Lodewijks. Also thanks to Antas!

Contents:

Red ball Musicians
Red ball Information printed on the sleeve
Red ball The concept book synopsis of "666"
Red ball Background information
Red ball The sleeve design
Red ball The story of "666"
Red ball The complete Aphrodite's Child 666 lyrics (link to the lyrics page)
Red ball Meeting Vangelis told by Costas Ferris (link to the meeting Vangelis page)
Red ball Meeting Salvador Dali told by Costas Ferris (link to the meeting Dali page)
Red ball The Barcelona happening by Salvador Dali (link to the 666 Barcelona happening)
Red ball Costas Ferris presentation biography (link to the Costas Ferris biography page)
Red ball Bible, King James Version: Revelation (complete text) (link to an external page)

Musicians:

All Music composed by Vangelis Papathananssiou.
Concept, book and lyrics by Costas Ferris.
Played by Aphrodite's Child:
Vangellis Papathanassiou: Organ, piano, flute, percussion, Vibes; various others vocal backing.
Demis Roussos:Bass, some lead vocal and vocal backings.
Lucus Sideras: Drums, some lead vocal and vocal backings.
Silver Koulouris: Guitars, percussion.

Guest musicians:
Harris Halikitis: Bass, tenor sax, conga drums, backing vocal.
Michel Ripoche:Trombone, tenor sax.
John Forst: Narration.
Yannis Tsarouchis: Greek text.
Irene Papas: Vocal on "(infinity)".

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Information printed on the sleeve:

666 cover

APHRODITE'S CHILD

ANYONE WHO HAS INTELLIGENCE
MAY INTERPRET THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST.
IT IS A MAN'S NUMBER.
THIS NUMBER IS
666
(THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN, 13/18)

COMPOSED BY VANGELIS PAPATHANASSIOU

LYRICS BY COSTAS FERRIS

2 Record Album. 1971, by Mercury, Stereo VEL 2-500 or VERTIGO.

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Record 1. side  A         
     
1   The system   0:23
2 Babylon 2:47
3 Loud loud loud 2:42
4 The four Horsemen 5:54
5 The Lamb 4:33
6 The Seventh Seal 1:30
  
Record 1. side B
      Inner sleeve scan from the 666 album (car crashing)
7 Aegian Sea 5:22
8 Seven Bowls 1:29
9 The Wakening Beast 1:11
10 Lament 2:45
11 The Marching Beast 2:00
12 The Battle Of The Locusts 0:56
13 Do it 1:44
14 Tribulation 0:32
15 The Beast 2:26
16 Ofis 0:14
   
Record 2. side C
      
1 Seven Trumpets 0:35
2 Altamont 4:33
3 The Wedding Of The Lamb 3:38
4 The Capture Of The Beast 2:17
5 Infinity Symbol 5:15
6 Hic and nunc 2:55
   
Record 2. side
7 All the Seats were occupied 19:19
8 Break 2:58
   

Arranged and produced by: Vangelis Papathanassiou.
All music composed by: Vangelis Papathanassiou.
Text written by: Costas Ferris.
Played by: APHRODITE'S CHILD.

Vangelis Papathanassiou: Organ, piano, flute, percussion, vibes + various others, vocal backing.
Demis Roussos: Bass, vocal backings, lead vocal on "The four horsemen", "Babylon, + Hic et nunc"
Lucas Sideras: Drums, vocal backing, lead vocal on "The Beast" + "Break"
Silver Koulouris: Guitars + percussion.

GUESTS:
Harris Halkitis: Bass, tenor sax, conga drums, backing vocal.
Michel Ripoche: (Courtesy Disques Riviera): Trombone, tenor-sax on "Babylon" + "Hic et nunc".
John Forst: Narration.
Yannis Tsarouchis: Greek text.
Irene Papas (Courtesy Polydor, Italy): Vocal on "(infinity)".

Recorded at Europasonor.
Recording engineer: Roger Roche.
Assistant: Jean-Claude Conan.
Many thanks to all the people too many to mention who helped us to produce this work.
Production coordinator: Gerard Fallec.
Passing by: Giorgio Gomelsky.
This work was recorded under the influence of  "sahlep"

Copyright 1971 Polygram International Music B.V.

Original publisher (All titles): S.D.R.M.

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The concept book synopsis *

Costas Ferris wrote a concept book for the "666" album: Saint John’s "Revelation" (The Apocalypse as they call it in Greek), and this subject had to be seen through the culture of the sixties.

A big circus Troupe, giving a big circus Show, based on the Apocalypse. Acrobats, dancers, tumbelines, elephants, tigers and horses. Of course, the reference to the "Beatles" "Sgt Peppers" is obvious.

While the show goes on, light and sound effects in all their glory, something is happening outside the circus tent. It is the real revelation disaster going on, staged by God himself.

The audience believes that what is happening outside, is part of the show. But the narrator, who understands that something strange is happening, gets hysterical.

At the end the big tent disappears. and the two "shows" unite, in a great battle between Good and Evil, between the real Revelation-End-of the-World, and the its staged representation.

* (note from Costas Ferris) The term "book" (usually "book and lyrics") is used by the writers and lyricists of the American Musical, to translate the Italian Opera and Ballet term of "libretto". It consists of a minimal description of the stage action, possibly recited text (recitativi), and lyrics for the "arias" ("songs"). It all comes from the aesthetics of the Rinucini Camerata in Florence, 16th century, for the revival of the ancient Greek drama (tragedy), that created the first Operas ("Euridice", "Orpheus" etc.)

"Tommy" was the first attempt to create a "rock opera", inventing a new structure, where the action does not have a theatrical (dramatic) continuity, but it is described by successive "songs" (arias), who describe different point of view narrations. Kit Lambert, the producer of "Tommy", was the son of the classic music composer Constant Lambert, and he was my (Costas) friend since 1963. The fact that we were both movie-professionals (Kit was the Unit Manager in the film "The Moonspinners", where I was assistant director), I believe had it's impact on both, "Tommy" and "666".

The source of "666" being the Apocalypse of John, that is a religious (oriented) book, made me (Costas)choose the term of "oratorio" (Rock Oratorio). The first "Oratorio" in history, was "Rapresentazione di Anima e di Corpo" by Emilio di Cavalieri, 1600, some months before the first opera by Caccini. Di Cavalieri himself in his letters insists that it is the first opera ever created, but the religious essence of his work and the static evolution of his "drama", imposed the term of "oratorio" instead.

The narration of "666" meant to be looser than "Tommy", but more rigid and strict than "Sgt Pepper's", so I (Costas) (sort of) "invented" the term of "concept book", that became a "concept album". That also was not my original idea, because in the early 1960s, the famous Greek composers Hadjidakis, Theodorakis and others, had already created a series of records with a main central theme for all the songs. They had called this form "cycle of songs".

So, I wrote the lyrics of the songs, based on a sort of written design, also using the "time-puzzle" narration of films such as "Intolerence", "Citizen Kane", "Rashomon", "The Killing" (Kubrick's) and so on.

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666 vs La Sagrada Familgia:  The Barcelona Happening by Salvador Dali information:

Salvador Dali wrote a fantastic script for directing a great happening in Barcelona, for the premiere of "666".
Unfortunately this happening never took place.
See also: Meeting Salvador Dali told by Costas Ferris.

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Background information:

This controversial double album is a concept work based on a book of Costas Ferris.
The album "666" was  ahead of its time and some of the themes were very unusual.
The compositions are more complex than previous works of Aphrodite's Child and there are extended instrumentals and improvisations.

Gerard Fallec was the "Production Co-ordinator". Unfortunately they forgot to note his name on the sleeve.

Argyris (Silver) Koulouris, was part of the first "Aphrodite's Child" formation, but he didn't make it. When Aphrodite's Child left Greece (1968) Argyris joined the army. When they decided to make "666", Lucas said that now they needed a guitar, and so they remembered Argyris and called him especially.

Giorgio Gomelsky was the first manager of the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, as well as the producer of the famousGiorgio Gomelsky Brian Auger - Julie Driscol record. He was there all the time and he helped a lot.
A fragment from a Giorgio Gomelsky’s interview about “working with Vangelis: Dragon and Hypothesis” by Antas and Dennis Lodewijks:
"Vangelis told me about the "666" project, and although I was very busy with MAGMA (and GONG!), I decided to contribute whatever I could to the project and whenever possible I "passed by the studio". It actually got quite involved and for practical purposes I ended up being a sort of "acting producer". I had no ambition however to get full credit, because, first of all, I respected very much what Vangelis and Costas had already done (wasn't in from the start), and secondly, I'm not suffering from excessive vanity, I was glad to help along a worthwhile musical project."

"This work was recorded under the influence of "SAHLEP".
Sahlep in arabic, salepi in Greek, is an oriental hot, sweet and healthy drink. It has nothing to do with alcohol or any other drugs, but was usually drank by poor people early in the morning, instead of coffee or tea. They wrote this reference, with a Greek sense of humour, meaning "we have better essences, we don't need your drugs".

"The system": the words are: We've got the System, to fuck the System!   It's obviously ironic, as you cannot "fuck" a system by another system! Those lyrics were inspired by Abbie Hoffmann's manifesto "Fuck the System" **.
Irony and sarcasm, are the two keys to understand this peculiar "666"
** This manifesto was written at the end of the 60s (a booklet of about 30 pages). Abbie Hoffman (1939-1989)  was a Yippie. He was a friend of Jerry Rubin.***
Together these two were the Marxist-Lennonists of the 60s. Revolutionaries and anti-war activists, they demonstrated an uncanny ability to manipulate the media, to not only make fun of nearly everything and everybody (themselves included), but also to get a wide audience for their antics.
Yippies (Youth International Party) was a small political organization byAbbey Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who organized protests at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968

"Babylon": The drummer is not Lucas, but Vangelis!

"Loud, loud, loud": is recited mainly by a child, and it was the son of some diplomat.  The Chorus also, in the same song, is composed by children.

"Lament": The Byzantine voice responding to Demis' "amane", is Vangelis.

"Do It": the title was a reference to Jerry Rubin's book "Do it!"***
***
In Do It!, Jerry Rubin (1938-1994) related the story of the Yippies and Chicago 1968 with frantic energy and the colorful drug-laced language of 60's revolution.

"The beast": Vangelis, while recording (usually, the base, was recorded with the three of them, Lucas, Demis and Vangelis, together) so Vangelis, had a separate microphone on his mouth, to give directions in greek. So there was a whole channel with the voice of Vangelis, giving directions and enthusiasm. During the remix, they chose some of those phrases, which were interesting rythmically. So, the first word you can hear from Vangelis, is the greek "pame!!!".
Pame means "let's go", and metaforically means "go for the climax". The second phrase (always in greek), is: "telionoume edho pera, etsi?" and that means in a free translation "we are closing here, remember?"
During the recording of "666", the three Big Ones (Vangelis, Demis, Lucas) had very bad relations, and they did not even speak to each other. During those recordings, they were (all three) with there respective wives (or girlfriend) far from each other, and connecting with each other through Roger Roche, the sound recorder, or Costas Ferris. But from the instant moment they were taking the instruments and pley together, they started laughing and looking to each other happilly, as if they were in love with each other! Just after Roger was saying "It's good, we keep it", they were becoming instantly enemies again! That's how those Vangelis' voice interventions, look so happy. Music unites.

"Ofis": The Greek lyrics are: "Exelthe ofi katiramene, dhioti an dhen exelthe essy, tha se exelthe ego! Ou! Ou! Ou!" The translation in english is: "Come out, cursed serpent, because if you don't "come-out" you, I will
"come-out" you!
It's a famous line frome the greek shadow theatre Karagiozis, from the play "Karagiozis, Alexander the Great and the Cursed Serpent".
This line has been told, in the record, by the most famous greek painter Yiannis Tsarouhis.

"Infinite": Giorgio Gomelsky brought John Forst the Narrator, because Costas Ferris asked him somebody speaking with very heavy British accent, and very cold blooded, to make the contrast with the final hysteria. In the initial book (to be represented as a big circus show) the Narrator was supposed to get into hysteria, and he was supposed to perform "I was, I am, I am to come". But Irene came in, and she did it in this extraordinary improvisation.
The words are: "I was, I am, I am to come".
It is the inversion of "Who was, is, is to come" of the Revelation, attributed to the Good.
Here, the "Bad", (the Beast, 666) turns this phrase inte Ego, (first person), and tries to be born again, or to give birth to another Ego, or to "make love" to is own self and so on. Vicious circle.
The percussion in "infinite", is Vangelis, improvising together with Irene. In fact she started reccording "a capella", and during that they had the idea, Vangelis took in hand some metal things and a shirt, and went in the studio.
The whole recording (before cutting) of  "infinite", was 39 minutes!!!!!

The sentence: "All the seats were occupied": is taken from the reccording of a BBC Teaching English lesson.

"Break",  there was a first verse, that was never sang. Costas doesn't even remember those lyrics, He only remembers that it started by "Now... got no place to go... " and his idea was (once more) to make fun of the melodramatic feeling of the song, by irony and extravaganza.
As about the syllables you hear, it is Vangelis' voice, "answering" to Lucas by the jazz doo-wap technique: "stoobeedooobedoo..." and so on. It was Vangelis way of making fun to the song, and that was why we missed the final lyrics.

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The sleeve design (as told by Costas Ferris)

666 UK version (Vertigo: 6641 581)

UK version 666 (Vertigo: 6641 581)

The interior sleeve design was submitted by Gerard Fallec. In fact, Gerard was not a co-ordinator during the production process, but joined us later on to organize the "one-year anniversary party since the non-circulation of the record". So he became a P.R. co-ordinator, when Polygram decided to publish the album.

Gerard Fallec’s most important idea was to change the title. In fact we used the "Apocalypse" as a working title and we had some doubts if it was preferable to use the English translation "Revelation". Gerard thought that both titles missed real power, since they have been used in many artistic, literary, even social and political references. So one day, he brought a design to the studio with three plastic car numbers, writing the number 6.

His idea was to have a "black sleeve" - just like the Beatles did the "white album" - and the number 666 in white, in the middle. We both liked the idea, but we preferred a red (blood and fire) background, and the number (white on black) in the middle, like a license plate. That was it. Gerard came the next day, bringing this extraordinary "naf" and partly Dali-esque painting, by an unknown artist, we all forgot to ask his name… What a shame!

Gerard didn't know exactly what relation this painting could have to the work, but he had a feeling that since the sleeve had a car number, a car crash could be related. Our reaction (since Vangelis and I are both Aries), was immediate. "It's the absolute representation of the stupidity of man." And since my interpretation (published in the French literary magazine "Les Lettres Francaises") 666 is the name of the Man who has not yet reached the analytical intelligence (the 999 % of his brain") and behaves by the reactive mind of the beast, the painting was perfectly suitable for the album. Idiocy is the motif of all conflicts, wars, slaughters, destruction of the environment, in fact, idiocy is the reason of suicide. Such a terrible suicidal car-crash, could not have any other reason but Stupidity.

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The story of 666: *

There are a lot of stories, surrounding this famous "666".
It was the 3rd album of Aphrodite's Child.
At the end of 1970 the recording of this album started in Paris.
It took more than 3 month to record.
The costs where about $ 80,000.
The album was released in 1972.

The content of the album caused concern within Mercury (Philips) Records due to its controversial content.
Mercury Records were most displeased with the track "Infinite" as they interpreted it as blasphemous.
It resulted in the release intitially being shelved and then swapped to Vertigo, Mercury's sister company.
They asked vangelis to cut out five minutes and he refused. The British record company said: "This is not good. It's pornographic, it's terrible and we're not going to release it.
Vangelis refused to take the track off, but edited the work through 1971 to reduce its length. Eventually, twelve month later (It was forbidden for one year) it was released in 1972, but was censored in some countries (such as Spain). "Infinity" got "666" banned from radio airplay when it was first released.

The cover of  "666" also seemed to reinforce the claims of blasphemy due to the comment on the sleeve: "This work was recorded under the influence of "sahlep".
Fundamentalist Christians interpreted this as Evanghelos (the bringer of good news) being possessed by Satan and the possibility that "sahlep" was perhaps a black magic sect...

* Mark Griffin: Vangelis : the unknown man  1997 ISBN 0-9523187-2-5 (second edition) (some parts of this book are used for this section)

Eiffel in Paris: 666 days to go (year 2000) 


 666 days before the year 2000 .... (Picture from the Eiffel in Paris)

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Special thanks to: Costas Ferris, Antas, Dennis Lodewijks and Colin Browell

Website made by: Henk Engelen
For information / contact: mail me