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1 Apr 2017

Aphrodite’s Child "End of the World" 1968 Greece Prog Symphonic Art Rock









Aphrodite’s Child  "End of the World" 1968 Greece Prog Symphonic Art Rock
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This is the story of three young friends, who travel from Greece to France in search of a better creative environment. Back in 1968 a military regime has taken over the government in Greece and just as many other Greek artists, Vangelis Papathanassiou, Demis Roussos and Lucas Sideras decide to leave their country. A fourth friend, Argyris Koulouris has to stay behind to fulfil his army duty. Although aiming to travel to England, Vangelis, Demis and Lukas first get in trouble as they are not allowed to enter the UK due to their work-permits, and then get stuck in Paris due to a transportation strike. By that time they decide to stay in Paris, and sign up with the Mercury record label as the band “Aphrodite’s Child”, with the help of Pierre Sberro. 

Their first single “Rain and tears”, released in May 1968, immediately strikes gold and becomes a huge hit worldwide. The song plays in France during the student riots, and is an instant success in France and other countries in Europe. Due to the success of the single it is time to record a full album “End of the world”. The title song of the album, released in October 1968, becomes the second single of Aphrodite’s Child. A third single “Valley of sadness” is also shortly issued in France, but later quickly withdrawn……

In the early 1960s, young Greek musicians began to move away from the traditional popular music of Buzuki in Greece and to get involved in Western musical currents, especially bit music and garage rock. In the mid-1960s, when mass tourism developed rapidly in Greece, many groups emerged in Athens, playing fresh hits from England and America for Western tourists. Young Demis Roussos participated in many such groups, and - what is most interesting - at first did not sing, but only played: on the bass guitar and on the trumpet (under the great impression of the play of the American trumpeter Harry James). 

Once, when Russos played in the band We Five, her main vocalist decided to make a break during the performance. Then Demis was allowed to sing, and he debuted as a singer with the song The Animals - “House Of The Rising Sun” (House of the Rising Sun). The audience enthusiastically accepted his unusual voice, and since then Roussos began to appear as an additional vocalist with the song Animals, and then other hits of the era, such as “Black Is Black”, etc. 

Speaking at major tourist centers in Athens, such as the Hilton hotel, etc., Demis met many of the best musicians in the Greek capital, including Vangelis Papatanassiou (full name Evangelos), leader of the group Forminx. Demis and Vangelis became friends and formed a group, which also included Agirilos Kuluris and drummer Lucas Sideras. Initially, the band was called The Papathanassiou Set. 

The first entries were made by a new team at Phonogram in Greece. They were the “Plastics Nevermore” and “The Other People”, enthusiastically accepted in Paris and London. In early 1968, the musicians received an invitation to London, but then the group faced bureaucratic obstacles. This is now the European Union made on the principle of the Soviet Union without borders - live and work where you want. At that time it was not so easy to make a working visa in England. 

At the same time, the group had difficulties inside the country. In Greece, military conservatives came to power, and they revived, among other things, universal military service, as a result of which Agirilos Kuluris went to serve in the army. The other three members of the group were also at the age of conscription, but they did not wait for the agenda, they packed up things and went to France. The ultimate goal was to get to the UK, but the problem with the work visa remained unresolved. In addition, they could not go to Albion for physical reasons: a general strike began in Paris, including transport workers. 

This was the beginning of the carefully planned Federal Reserve and the US CIA “orange” revolution for the displacement of the freedom-free French President Charles de Gaulle, who dared to shake the power of the dollar. Interference in the internal affairs of the country has given the romantic character of the struggle of workers and students against capitalism. The Bohemian capital plunged into barricades, chaos and a mess around it all. 

These days the group was very helped by the French producer from Philips Records Pierre Sberro who arranged a contract with the record company Mercury Records. They signed a contract already called Aphrodite’s Child (Aphrodite’s Child), which was offered by the famous producer and AP-manager of Mercury Records, Lou Reisner. The name perfectly harmonized with the progressive style of the group and reflected its Greek origin. The first fruit of cooperation with Mercury was the single “Rain And Tears” (Rain and Tears), which was released in May 1968. 

Aphrodite’s Child followed in the footsteps of the popular rock groups Procol Harum and Moody Blues, actively introducing elements of classical music into rock music. The main hit of Procol Harum was (and still remains) the song “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, written under the impression of the cantata of IS. Bach “Wake up, voices call us!” (BWV 140) and his suites for the orchestra No. 3 D major (“Aria”, BWV 1068). The song “Rain And Tears” became the processing of the famous Canon in D major by the German organist and composer of the Baroque period Johann Pachelbel. 

The record suddenly became the most popular hit not only in France, but also throughout Europe and sold over a million copies. After this success it was necessary to release an album. To the public immediately guessed who is talking about, the album was subtitled Rain And Tears. 

The name End of the World in this case makes sense not “End of the World”, as it is most often translated, but judging from the text of the title track - “Edge of the World”: “ 

You must go to the end of the world with me, 
But do not tell your parents and friends 
You know that you need only say a word 
To stop my game at the end of the world 

But I know, 
What will I have to leave alone? 
I feel that you do not want to go 

If you would go with me to the end of the world 
I would give you everything that lives on earth 
You know that you need only say a word, 
And we could live on the edge of the world 

Aphrodite’s Child sounded very fresh and original. The repertoire consisted of psychedelic rooms in the spirit of the times and original love ballads, performed in a style that would later be called art rock or progressive rock, where Demis Roussos already showed……………..

I liked this album very much, though there are few duller songs on it. That does not seem surprising, as the styles of the songs alter very drastically, reflecting perfectly the mash-up album cover’s awesomeness. I believe there was much energy from new situations, as these musicians escaped their home country’s troubles to France, and met new exiting sounds and lifestyles radiating from London. to their own interpretation. From the tracks, mentionable would be "The End of The World” opens the LP brilliantly with grandiose drama, fitting to 1960’s Paris dance floors as slow piece and apocalyptic prayer for freaked out stoners. The sense of style and tone of Demis Roussos’ vocals meet the massive style-array of Vangelis Papathanasiou’s keyboard talents. “Don’t Try to Catch A River” runs after harpsichord driven soft-rocker, reminding some funny keyboard-driven trios soon blossoming at Great Britain’s scene. “Rain and Tears” is also a beautiful ballad, but shadowed by the album intro. “Valley of Sadness” is maybe another greates peak on this album from me, shimmering with spiritual belief and melancholic trust to turns of the fate. “The Grass is No Green” gives possibly hints of their forthcoming more adventurous “666” album, considering its form as aural landscape for Demis’ reciting. The band has also opened an official youtube channel, and it is fun to see and hear that Demis was also quite good bass player. I would recommend this record to all who like 60’s music, and also to those who are interested in the musical history of Vangelis and Demis Roussos, even though not liking the musical style of this album…..by Eetu Pellonpaa ………..

Soon after APHRODITE’S CHILD was formed, the guitar player Anargyros “Silver Koulouris is called to the military Service and has to leave the bands (only to rejoin them for the recording of 666), so they turn into a trio with Artemios (Demis Roussos) taking both the bass and guitar. 

With this emergency lineup they release "End of the World” in 1968, an album that lead them to fame due to the self titled single “End of the World” which reached N° 1 in most continental Europe, but the album is much more than a hit single, even when their Prog leanings are not yet so obvious, the adventurous and delicate blend of Psychedelia with Greek ethnic roots is simply delightful. Probably a bit naive in comparison with their masterpiece, but this kids were releasing very elaborate and interesting music when the 60’s were dying. 

The album starts with the title song in which the absolutely dramatic and clear voice of a young Demis Roussos creates a nostalgic moment only broken by his sentimental screams, but again, this is much more than just a ballad, the Greek Folk influence is more than evident while Vangelis adds outstanding organ sections with an evident Psyche/Prog orientation, I can’t understand why people catalogue this outstanding song as soft POPO when it’s one of the more advanced pieces of music you can listen in 1968, love the disheartening atmosphere and pure passion. 

“Don’t try to Catch a River” is much faster and snappy than “End of the World”, but not less interesting, even when the funky entrance seems to announces a catchy POP track, the wonderful keyboards of Vangelis take us in a trip to an electronic Psychedelic universe, while that human metronome named “Lucas Sideras” adds dissonant backing vocals that prove how elaborate this track is. 

People often criticize “Mister Thomas” and catalogues it as a childish song, but lets not forget this guys are Greek and want to include their ethnic roots into their music, yes, you can dance to it almost as you would do with a Tarantella, but they are shouting “We are Greeks and don’t want to sound like a British band”. 

“Rain and Tears” is another track that obtained popularity for APHRODITE’S CHILD, and even when it’s basically a ballad, the contrasting and dissonant choirs plus the subtle organ and violin, makes of it interesting from start to end. 

Now it’s time for “The Grass is no Green”, an experimental song with an extremely strong ethnic component that gives us hints of what 666 will be, absolutely dramatic and disturbing, demonstrates that this guys are going for more than just a place in the Billboards combining their national essence with trippy Psyche. 

“Valley of Sadness” sounds like a track taken from the 60’s British Invasion, but again their Greek atmosphere make it unique and creates a contrasting mood with the heavy “You Stand in my Way” where Demis gives one of his best vocal performances. 

As “Mister Thomas” before, “The Shepherd and the Moon” is a folksy song, but the distorted vocals and radical changes make it worth to be listened, the band tries to embrace Rock but never forgetting their essence, simply delightful and mysterious. 

The album ends with “Day of the Fool”, one of the proggiest and more challenging songs in the album, they go from Rock to some sort of melodic Prog, Avant Garde to an outstanding and extremely long organ solo by Vangelis, the perfect closer for an excellent album. 

Before rating “End of the World” I must say that before last week I only heard this album once back in the 80’s and didn’t impressed me, so I udsed to believe tha APHRODITE’S CHILD was a mainstream band that released one Prog album (666) by luck. 

But before placing it in a box with the albums I never listen decided to give “End of the World” a new chance, and my opinion has changed in 180° degrees, it’s fantastic release in which the seeds of 666 are starting to blossom, so I can’t rate it with less than 4 solid stars…….by Ivan_Melgar_M ………..

Famously known for bringing together keyboards maestro Vangelis and easy listening singer Demis Roussos, Aphrodite’s Child were formed in Greece in 1968. The band was completed by Loukas Sideras on drums and Anargyros “Silver” Koulouris on guitar, with Roussos also playing bass. Intending to relocate to London, UK, the band got as far as Paris, France, where various factors combined to impede their progress. Rather than sit on their hands waiting, they signed a record contract in Paris, and released the single “Rain and tears” a few months later. The single found chart success in a number of European countries, so an album was quickly put together to capitalise on the success. 

All the songs on “End of the world” were written by Vangelis (Papathanassiou) with non- band member Boris Bergman. Classical composer Johann Pachelbel also receives a credit for the use of his “Canon” melody on “Rain and tears”. The album has in recent years become a sought after rarity, although it has now finally been released on CD and download. 

This is very much a proto-prog album, full of sounds which are now of their time but which in 1968 were novel and exciting. It may seem hard to believe, but Demous Rousos singing is actually invigorated and inventive. The fact that he was and is a fine singer must have been a major factor in the success of the the band. Vangelis keyboard work is confined to more traditional instruments such as piano and organ, his dalliances with synthesiser still being a few years off. 

At times, such as on “The grass is not green”, we venture into more spacy, psychedelic territories, but generally the songs are well arranged pop based affairs. “You always Stand in My Way” features some unusually aggressive mellotron sounds, that instrument being more associated with pastoral orchestral effects. 

One thing which noticeable is the lack of any significant lead guitar work, perhaps reflecting Anargyros Koulouris partial absence from the recordings (he was called up for military service around that time). 

In all, an album which, to those hearing in the 2000’s for the first time, will sound rather naïve and dated. We must however recognise the vast amount of music which this album pre-dates. Seen for what it is and when it was recorded, this is a highly inventive and satisfying début. 

Recent releases include both sides of the band’s first single"Plastics Nevermore/The other people" as bonus tracks. Both are interesting is an historical context, but not really worth seeking out….. by Easy Livin …………

Line-up / Musicians 
- Demis Roussos / vocals, bass, guitar, bouzouki 
- Vangelis Papathanassiou / keyboards, flute, vibes, percussion, vocals, arrangements (4) 
- Lucas Sideras / drums, percussion, guitar, vocals 

With: 
- Claude Chauvet / vocals (1,4) 
- Boris Bergman / arrangements (4)

Tracklist 
End Of The World
Don’t Try To Catch A River
Mister Thomas
Rain And Tears
The Grass Is No Green
Valley Of Sadness
You Always Stand In My Way
The Shepherd And The Moon
Day Of The Fool

Discography 

LP 
1968 Mercury 138 350 France/Greece/Holland/Spain 
1968 Mercury 20140 SMCL UK 
1969 Mercury SLP 66.001 Brazil 
1969 Mercury 131.103 Chile 

CD 
1996 Mercury 532 866-2 Greece 
2004 Mercury UICY-9371 Japan 

Single 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river Mercury 132 501 MCF France/Belgium/Holland/Greece/West-Germany/Italy/Spain/Norway/Turkey 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river Mercury 4124 Greece 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river RTB S53531 Yugoslavia 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river Mercury Australia/Brazil/UK/Peru/South Africa/Rhodesia 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river Philips 40549 Canada/USA 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river Philips SFL-1178 Japan 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river Lacsea Disques 68124 Cambodia 

1969 End of the world / You always stand in my way Mercury 132 502 MCF France/Belgium/Holland/West-Germany/Italy/Spain/Turkey/Denmark/Singapore/Chile 
1968 End of the world / You always stand in my way Mercury Greece/UK/Peru 
1968 End of the world / You always stand in my way Philips 40587 Canada/USA 
1968 End of the world / You always stand in my way Philips SFL-1202 Japan 

1969 Valley of sadness / Mister Thomas Mercury 132 503 MCF (withdrawn) 
1970 Valley of sadness / Funky Mary Mercury 6033010 Portugal 

EP 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river / The other people / Plastics nevermore Mercury 74250 CXE France (Cassette) 
1968 Rain and tears / The other people / Plastics nevermore / Don’t try to catch a river Mercury P 26 003 Portugal 
1968 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river / End of the world / You always stand in my way Litratone 74208 Israel 
1970 Rain and tears / Don’t try to catch a river / Marie Jolie Mercury 6234002 Portugal 
1968 End of the world / The shepherd and the moon / You always stand in my way / Mister Thomas Mercury P 26 008 Portugal 

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