We're on our way to Rococco's for a cup of tea (why, oh why didn't they call it Rococoa's??) and I'm telling Philip about the compilation CD I didn't buy. It's called 'Heavy Mod' and it has a track on it by Aphrodite's Child from their 1972 LP, 666. A gleam spreads across Philip's face and he starts nodding with the kind of inner wisdom only available to people who have invented their own alphabet[s...] The nodding increases in speed as I start to form the obvious question. Next day, the answer appears upon my desk...
"If you're going to blog about this, I'd prefer it if you could change my name - I have my reputation to think of", suggests Philip. Duly noted. So, from now on, "Phillippe" it is. And, believe it or not, 666 is actually rather good. For the uninitiated, Aphrodite's Child's chief claim to fame is that the band included the unlikely pairing of synthesizer legend Vangelis and portly 70s housewife favourite Demis Roussos (on bass and trademark castrati vocals). The band were pretty big in Europe and don't forget that discerning 'Heavy' Mod following (all though what kind of crazy-arsed fucking mods they were to be into music as weird as this is a moot point).
Having built up a pretty impressive fanbase through their live shows, the band had a couple of hits around the continent and then, in the early 70s, Vangelis left the other members to their touring and disappeared in Brian Wilson fashion with lyricist/librettist Costas Ferris to work on his and the band's masterpiece. The conventional wisdom has it that Vangelis and Ferris took the Book of Revelations as their template for this epic recasting of the Apocalypse, but a cursory listen will tell all but the most obdurate sceptic that the real inspiration for the work is Les Dawson's classic Science Fantasy novel A Time Before Genesis. Obviously, the pair have a double LP to pad out, so they dedicate considerably more time than the paragraph or two that Dawson takes to describe (to wonderful, and no doubt completely unintentional, comic effect) the ultimate conflagration between the forces of good and evil. Also, for some reason, the aforementioned cataclysm appears to take place somewhere closer to the Aegean than the Glastonbury High Street of the original text. But, come on, this is Prog Rock man! If you can't take a few liberties here, where the heck can you?
So, I'll leave the rest of the talking to the music. Highlights? Well, Roussos has a neat line in funky bass playing and you'll hear shades of Another Green World (three years before its release) all over side 2, particularly on the lovely 'Aegian Sea'. The tintinabular opening of 'The Lamb' was obviously absorbed whole at a tender age by American Beauty/Six Foot Under/Road to Perdition composer (and nephew of Randy) Thomas Newman. The Clangers make an uncredited appearance on 'The Seventh Seal' - as, possibly, does Brian Cant...or is it Chloe Ashcroft? Anyroad, whoever it is doing the narrating, I'm sure they used to be on Play Away and they're on pretty much every track. And if you don't have crazy-arsed fucking Mod classic 'The Four Horsemen' going through your brain on a loop after a couple of hearings, why, you're spawn of the devil incarnate, Beelzebub. Get thee behind me!
[As there are more segues on this album than there are bum notes in a Les Dawson piano concerto, I'll be posting this up as complete sides - hence the low bit-rate.]
Loud, Loud, Loud
The Four Horsemen
The Seventh Seal
The Wakening Beast
The Marching Beast
The Battle of the Locusts