Progressive rock is a tricky genre to get into. With complex lyrics and synthesizers out the ass it tends to be a little overbearing most of the time. That is, of course, unless you are like me and are the biggest dork on earth that revels in the fact that the music does tend to be more complex and intriguing. With fantastic bands like Rush and Yes it’s hard for me not to like the genre. I remember when I first heard “2112” from Rush and it blew my mind. You are probably thinking I was stoned at the time, but that’s not the point! The point is with progressive rock you get an opportunity to hear something that you honestly will not often hear on the radio. That being said, let’s talk about the apocalypse!
l should best explain that last sentence there. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s there was this band called Aphrodite’s Child. They were a progressive rock band from Greece that loved to experiment with their music. They weren’t exactly big here in the United States but they did gain a little attention with their last release as a band, which came out in 1972. However it was not because the album was a hit. No, it was because on the cover was the number, in big white letters, 666. Everyone and their grandmother, especially overly religious grandmothers, know that number. If you don’t know the number then I’ll just spell it out for you. It’s the number of the beast. The number you will hear at the end times. When the heavens rain down on earth and the four horsemen ride this will be the number everyone remembers! Yep, cats and dogs living together type stuff!
You are probably thinking, what’s the big deal? Well, you have to remember this is the 60s and 70s. The youth and elders didn’t exactly see eye to eye. You may recall disagreements between them with that whole “Vietnam” thing, which led to many revolts. Needless to say this went the same way for music. Many parents felt that most modern music was the devils music. Imagine these parents going into a record store and finding THIS album. It’s a pure red cover with the number 666 plastered right dead in the center so bold that it’s screaming at you. Any parent seeing this would instantly be like DEVILS MUSIC and proceed to burn the album right then and there. What they would be burning, however, is a pure progressive rock masterpiece that should have never gone unnoticed. The funny thing is that the album caused controversy, but not for the reason you think, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
The album is the musical interpretation of the final days. Yep, it’s Apocalypse the Musical and it’s a treat to listen to. Normally with a review like this I would highlight several songs but I won’t be doing that this time, and that is because half of the album consists of instrumental tracks. If you look at the back of the vinyl cover of the album you will see the lyrics printed, and two or three of the songs are actually spoken verses over various background noises. This is where the album does have its flaw, as most progressive rock albums tend do, and that flaw is it really needs to be listened to as a whole and not by individual songs. There is, however, one stand out track that is worth mentioning and that is “The Four Horsemen”. This was actually the only song that ever got any radio play and is one of the two songs that can actually be played out of context of the rest of the album. This is actually my personal favorite of the album and would recommend checking it out if you can.
The other song that was played, very seldom that is, on the radio was “Break”. This is the last song on the album and definitely feels more like a “we are adding this song to the album just so the record companies will leave us alone for not having a damn radio friendly song on the album” type song. It’s not a bad song, but like I said it just doesn’t seem like it fits with the overall theme of the album. You know the apocalypse. It honestly feels like a post credit stinger and that’s about it.
Surprisingly this album didn’t really drum up that much of a controversy for being called 666. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there was some Mrs. Bruce out there chain smoking her life away, complaining about the albums existence on earth, and not actually knowing what the hell she was talking about. This album is not about the promotion of Satanism or advocating the antichrist. It’s simply telling us the story of the book of Revelations in song form and with that it does a fantastic job. It covers everything from the seven seals being broken to the beast itself rising from the seas and reigning terror wherever it goes. Man, the apocalypse is going to suck now that I think about it.
Where does the controversy come in then? Well, you see, there is one song on the first side of the second record called “Infinity”. It’s an instrumental, particularly a percussion instrumental with vocals over it. These are no ordinary vocals however. No, these vocals belong to Greek Actress Irene Papas simulating the female orgasm. Repeating the line “I was, I am, I am to come,” over and over along with various other female orgasm sounds. The record company, specifically Mercury Records, objected to this song track being on the album and wanted it removed. The band refused and the track eventually was allowed to stay. The song is definitely a weird one as it is seriously a 3 minute and 30 second song of a woman having an orgasm. It is seriously the “what the fuck” moment of the album, but thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Now, is this album for everyone? No, it’s not. Some of you might listen to his album and go “what a piece of fucking shit,” and proceed to send me hate mail. Some of you might listen to it and say thanks for finding a wonderful overlooked treasure. Either way my whole point of this article was just to get out there. This is one of those albums that just don’t seem to get enough attention when it should be. It’s a fantastic progressive rock piece that could rival any of the famous pieces like “2112” and “The Wall.” Yeah, I went there. If you can find this album please do and if you like it please let me know.
Until next time, keep the records spinning.