Aphrodite’s Child – End of the World
Mention Greece and what springs to mind? Nana Mouskouri’s NHS specs? Anthony Quinn cutting a rug against an Ocean backdrop in Zorba the Greek? The very mad husband of our very own Her Majesty the Queen (God bless ‘er)? Maybe even a bag of chips and a jumbo sausage, please?
Bone idle stereotyping aside, maybe the answer is three portly blokes banging out their very own brand of psychedelia and prog? If this be the case then we’re on the same wavelength. Welcome to the club.
Yes, Aphrodite’s Child features a pre-Chariots of Fire Vangelis, flexing his musically inventive muscles on keyboards and whatever else comes to hand, and Demis Roussos in the days before he took to wearing a glittery dress and became a global superstar. There’s also some bloke called Loukas Sideras on drums, but he must’ve drawn the short straw when it came to divvy up the post-Aphrodite success.
Their 1968 debut, End of the World, is a splendid piece of often eerie psychedelia, which hints at the progressive road down which they’d soon be travelling.
The title track immediately lets you know what they’re all about. Expect lightly accented (though completely English) vocals, delivered in a near-operatic warble by Roussos. Expect psychedelic effects to be heavily interwoven throughout, giving it an altogether eerier edge. And expect a very faint, but slightly disconcerting, feel of 1970′s Eurovision.
‘Mister Thomas’ is the Aphrodite’s Child take on the very English sub-genre of baroque Toytown-psych, and a fine one at that. If it wasn’t for the Eurovision accent it could easily pass for a lost recording from the likes of the Idle Race or Tomorrow.
‘Rain and Tears’, the band’s biggest success, becoming a hit in a host of countries across Europe, is a bit of a sappy ballad, but one that’s lifted by the Vangelis sonic arrangement, which excuses the insipid lyrics and hoists what could’ve been a painful listen out of the murky trough of mundanity.
And so it goes on. Some great, some good, and a wee bit of the not so good psychedelic rock, which taken as a whole is more than the doctor ordered. There’s a certain darkness entwined along the seam of End of the World, as demonstrated on songs such as the aforementioned title-track, ‘The Grass is no Green’ and the histrionically enhanced, near-terrifying ‘Day of the Fool’, which, incidentally, features the bizarre couplet “… she knows what’s up in my mind, she smells like a tree …”
Very much so. It’s more common than you think. But enough of that. From top to tail End of the World is good stuff. Slightly off-kilter, creepy psychedelic rock, with a hint of the continental thrown in for good measure.
The 2010 reissue of End of the World offers two bonus tracks, the single ‘Plastics Nevermore’ and its B-side ‘The Other People’.
End of the World by Aphrodite’s Child is reissued by Esoteric and available from Amazon.co.uk
Don’t just read and applaud. Subscribe to the rather splendid RSS Feed