Melody Maker, August 19, 1972
THE Bible has inspired works of art too numerous to mention. Topical on the rock scene is Jesus Christ Superstar. But also impressive is a double album whose inspiration was the apocalyptic revelations of St. John.
Though something of a musical and lyrical tour de force, the album has made surprising little impact in Britain, All the more surprising because one of the tracks caused distribution to be held up for a year on the grounds of so-called " obscenity."
Bearing in mind the publicity far lesser works have received in this respect - " Je T'aime," for example - it is odd that the media has apparently overlooked this album. Though It would be a pity if " 666 " by the Greek group Aphrodite's Child were to achieve notoriety on account of the one contribution by singer Irene Papas.
As composer of the complete work, Vangelis Papathanassiou, says: " This track is meant to convey the pain of birth and the joy of intercourse."
But this is just one facet of a work of extraordinary musical and lyrical complexity allied to visionary production and superb recording technique.
One track could easily have made the chart if it had been released as a single. This is " Break," a piece whose somewhat surrealistic and sparse lyric is enlivened by the subtle use of organ, "scat " vocalising, and some brilliant guitar playing by Silver Koulouris.
Apart from his work as composer and arranger, Vangelis Papathanassiou also plays organ, piano, percussion and vibes on the album - which incidentally cost a cool $90,000 to produce.
Aphrodite's Child never existed as a " live" group; it was purely a recording venture. But Vangelis, now based in Paris, where he does extensive film work, plans to form a new group with which he intends to give live performances.
It Aphrodite's Child is an indication, then the new group could prove an equally stimulating musical experience. Certainly " 666" is far in advance of much contemporary music that has achieved fame in Britain and America.
It should not be too long before more than the Greeks have a word for a composer of formidable talent - Vangelis Papathanassiou.
Interview by Laurie Henshaw