Aphrodite's Child

Aphrodite's Child was a Greek psychedelic and progressive rock band formed in 1967, by multi-instrumentalist Vangelis Papathanassiou on keyboards, organ, piano, vibraphone, bass, flute, percussions and backing vocals, vocalist and bassist Demis  Roussos, powerful drummer Loukas Sideras (drums and vocals), and very competent guitarist Argyris "Silver" Koulouris. Papathanassiou and Roussos had already been successful in Greece playing in the bands Formynx and Idols respectively. Their first recording as a band was for George Romanos' album In Concert and in Studio where they played on four songs and were credited as Vangelis and his Orchestra. In the same year they recorded a two song demo and submitted it to Philips Records. The first two releases of Aphrodite's Child, End of the World and It's Five O'Clock, showed a commercial oriented band with a peculiar sound of psychedelic pop with Greek folk music elements. But in 1970, when they started to record the double concept album 666, they got a place in progressive rock history.


Vangelis Papathanassiou
Demis Roussos
It was probably Vangelis' idea that the still-anonymous band should be relocated in London which would be a more suitable environment for their music. Greece had entered a right-wing dictatorship in 1967. This decision, however, was not problem-free. Silver Koulouris had to stay in Greece to fulfill his military service. Guitar and bass both were being played by Demis Roussos during his absence. The band, on its way to London, got stuck in Paris partially because they did not have the correct work permits and also because of the strikes associated with the May 1968 events. 
Loukas Sideras
In Paris they signed to Mercury Records, christened "Aphrodite's Child" and released their first single "Rain and Tears", a reworking of Pachelbel's Canon in D major. With this song the band became an overnight sensation in France -despite the song's lyrics were in English and not in French- and in several other European countries where the single charted well. It sold over one million copies, and it was awarded a gold disc. In October of 1968, the band released their first album End of the World. The album contained an equal amount of psychedelic pop songs and ballads. The band began touring around Europe, and in January 1969 they recorded a single in Italian for the Sanremo Festival, in which they did not participate. Their next hit single was "I Want to Live", an arrangement of the song "Plaisir d'amour".

The shepherd and the moon

For their second album, the band travelled to London to record at the Trident Studios. The first single from the album, "Let Me Love, Let Me Live" was released in November 1969, while the album It's Five O'Clock came out in January 1970. It featured more successful ballads (like the title track), but also songs that crossed many musical genres including country rock. After their second album, the band began touring again, this time without Vangelis who preferred to stay in Paris. Vangelis was replaced on stage by Harris Chalkitis. The year 1970 went by with the band promoting their latest album and Vangelis working on his first film project. To keep the steady flow of hits, the band released another single in August 1970, "Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall".

Such a funny night

Argyris Koulouris
The band began to record their next album late in 1970: a musical adaptation of the biblical Book of Revelation, entitled 666 (The Apocalypse of John, 13/18). However, relations between all the band members were not good at the time, and continued to worsen during the album's creation. The music that Vangelis was creating for 666 was much more psychedelic and progressive rock oriented than anything the band had done before. This did not sit well with the other band members, who wished to continue in the pop direction that had brought them success. Furthermore, Roussos was being groomed for a solo career.  Argyris Koulouris, having finished his Greek army duty rejoined the band.
Essentially, the double album 666 was Vangelis' concept, created with an outside lyricist, Costas Ferris. It was an experimental album in lyrics and composition, including a curious piece of performance, "∞" (Infinity), with Greek actress Irene Papas chanting. The music itself was an impressive display of Vangelis' abilities, combining psychedelic and progressive rock with ethnic instruments, choral chanting, recitations, and very advanced use of synthesizers and keyboards for the time. In time the album became recognized as one of the most important early progressive rock works and one of the first concept albums in history. Irony and sarcasm, are the two keys to understand 666. After the completion of the album, Vangelis engaged in a long fight with Mercury Records over the content of the album and its controversial concept. The record company, in particular, objected to the song "∞". Mercury finally agreed to release 666 two years after its completion, in 1972. Strangely enough, 666 was the only Aphrodite’s Child album to make any impact in America. The blood-red cover with the letters 666 prominently displayed in black and white was striking, and brought immediate accusations of occultism from various quarters. Any suspicions of occultism could be dispersed by simply reading the lyrics, which were fairly based on the Book of Revelation, but the accusations undoubtedly helped sell the album in the United States. The album met with less controversy overseas and sold reasonably well on its own merits.


The four horsemen

The lamb / The seventh seal

By the time the album 666 was released in June 1972, the band had already split. Both Vangelis and Roussos pursued successful solo careers, Roussos as a pop singer and Vangelis as a New Age musician and a successful soundtrack composer. Koulouris worked with both on occasion. Sideras pursued a less successful solo career, releasing an album and the single Rising Sun after the break-up, then disappearing into obscurity.

(Studio albums)

End of the World (1968):
1. End of the World
2. Don't Try to Catch a River
3. Mister Thomas
4. Rain and Tears
5. The Grass Is No Green
6. Valley of Sadness
7. You Always Stand in My Way
8. The Shepherd and the Moon
9. Day of the Fool

It's Five O'Clock (1969):
1. It's Five O'Clock
2. Wake Up
3. Take Your Time
4. Annabella
5. Let Me Love, Let Me Live
6. Funky Mary
7. Good Time So Fine
8. Marie Jolie
9. Such a Funny Night 

666 (1972):
Disc I
1. The System
2. Babylon
3. Loud, Loud, Loud
4. The Four Horsemen
5. The Lamb
6. The Seventh Seal
7. Aegean Sea
8. Seven Bowls
9. The Wakening Beast
10. Lament
11. The Marching Beast
12. The Battle of the Locusts
13. Do It
14. Tribulation
15. The Beast
16. Ofis

Disc II
1. Seven Trumpets
2. Altamont
3. The Wedding of the Lamb
4. The Capture of the Beast
5. ∞ (Infinity)
6. Hic et Nunc
7. All the Seats were Occupied
8. Break