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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.
All Music composed by Vangelis Papathananssiou.
2 Record Album. 1971, by Mercury, Stereo VEL 2-500 or VERTIGO.
Arranged and produced by: Vangelis
Vangelis Papathanassiou: Organ, piano, flute,
percussion, vibes + various others, vocal backing.
Recorded at Europasonor.
Copyright © 1971 Polygram International Music B.V.
Original publisher (All titles): S.D.R.M.
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.
Salvador Dali wrote a fantastic
script for directing a great happening in Barcelona, for the premiere of
This controversial double album is a concept work
based on a book of Costas Ferris.
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 famous
Brian Auger - Julie Driscol record. He was there all the time and he helped a
"This work was recorded under the influence of "SAHLEP".
"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" **.
"Babylon": The drummer is not Lucas, but
"Lament": The Byzantine voice responding to Demis' "amane", is Vangelis.
"Do It": the title was a reference to Jerry
Rubin's book "Do it!"***
"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
"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
"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.
|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 "naïf" 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.
There are a lot of stories, surrounding this
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)
666 days before the year 2000 .... (Picture from the Eiffel in Paris)
Special thanks to: Costas Ferris, Antas, Dennis Lodewijks and Colin Browell
Website made by: Henk Engelen
For information / contact: mail me