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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Aphrodite's Child - 666

While the concept albums was ruling the prog genre at the beginning of the 1970s, the globe was turning around and around as it lands in the outskirts of Greece that has one prog band that took the concept album into the layers of hell! That band of course is Aphrodite's Child. Formed in 1967, they started out as a greek psychedelic love-song band. They had some amazing songs like; It's Five O'Clock, End of the World, Let Me Love, Let Me Live, Spring, Summer Winter and Fall, and Rain and Tears. But all of that would change when Vangelis took the concept album into the obscure territory with this double concept album based on the Apocalpyse of St. John. 666 is an amazing masterpiece filled with heavy rocking guitar sounds from Silver Kouoluris, bizarre greek folk tales, ambient and atmospheric music into flameish annihilation!

The key tracks on 666 are the Pete Townshend guitar sounds with Babylon as Vangelis bangs the bass drums while Demis Roussos sings about the fallen empire of Babylon the great, The 5-minute epic heavy metal track on The Four Horsemen as Silver takes on the guitar solo into obscurity while Irene Papas makes her erotic X-rated porn sounds in the avant-garde climax of Infinity. And the space sounds of Aegean Sea and The Waking Beast allows the listener to go deep into pure heavy moods. And the climax of all epics, the 19-minute experiemental strange twist of All the Seats Were Occupied as the battle between good and evil fight for the final showdown with Heaven & Hell to duel it out.

Sadly, Aphrodite's Child's 666 was their final album in 1972. They called it quits as Vangelis enjoyed a mainstream success with film scores such as Chariots of Fire, the Sci-Fi cult classic Blade Runner, and the dreaded Oliver Stone pretentious tale of Alexander while Demis Roussos went a little more pop sound with We Shall Dance and From Soveniurs to Soveniurs by cross-dressing and singing like a greek version of Pavarotti. Concept album based on the apocalypse of hell? Pure fucking insanity right here!

Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel

Germany's answer to Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. There is one band to take these two prog bros. into the outer limits and in the black hole with their Freak Out sinister epics that will make you scream for mercy. Krautrock's space cadet trio Ash Ra Tempel. Released on the Ohr Label in 1971, Ash Ra Tempel's self-titled debut album is the ultimate solar system trip. Manuel Gottsching on Guitar, Klaus Schulze who left Tangerine Dream after their first album Electronic Meditation on Drums to join with Manuel in 1970, and Hartmut Enke on Bass Guitar were on a cosmic roller-coaster ride that was beyond the atmospheric music with Heavy Metal jam sessions, experimental sounds similar to TD's early days in the late '60s. No wonder Julian Cope dug this band so much!

The opening 19-minute stoner rock track Amboss, starts off as a egyptian ambient guitar sound from Gottsching as it sets the mood for this explosive hard rockin' sound that is set towards the Monolith. The next 3-minutes featuring Klaus and Harmut, are following Manuel into a maximum space metal adventure into hell and beyond as you turn this motherfucker up LOUD on your iPod. Traummaschine (Dream Machine) a space rock beyond space music that is similar to TD's Journey through an Electric Brain, this reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey on this last number. They are on a sonic new age sound with Planet sounds on the Guitar and female vocalists setting the scenery by harmonizing the voices in an isolated scenery in a darken room. Klaus is doing an Indian tribe on the percussion instruments while they travel the Universe for the last 13-minutes in a raving light speed ride into Planet Tempel. Space Metal and Krautrock going together in the Milky Way? They never dissapoint!

Second Hand - Reality

The London Scene in the late '60s from the Underground-era was an amazing time period for bands such as Pink Floyd, Family, Traffic, and The Soft Machine. But there was one band that took the Psychedelic and Prog-era into a full proto-metal version of Procol Harum. That band was Second Hand. Formed in 1965, they were known as The Next Collection until they were signed by Polydor Records and changed their name to Second Hand and released their debut album in 1968 called Reality. This is humor, political, post-apocalyptic, and almost a Fairy tale quality of their first album.

Unlike their musical influences from The Creation, Small Faces, and The Who, Second Hand were a combination of The Action meets The Who meets Procol Harum with their first album. The opening track, A Fairy Tale starts off as a mellotronic homage to The Who's 1965 classic I Can't Explain and starts off into a childhood wonder about a mother telling her son a story before bedtime while Rhubarb! is a rumbling hard rock political statement into hell. The homage of the circus and '30s big band jazz music with the one and only Denis James the Clown. Steam Tugs is a bluesy mellotron number that shows that you can have a good time at a house party with the sexual soulness inside to be covered with the blanket of steam tugs and looking back the childhood-era of the 1950s with the Traffic/Dave Mason pop sound of Good Old '59 (We Are Slowly Getting Older).

The World Will End Yesterday is another proto-metal number set into a ballad that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in a fictitious planet; A tribute to Denis James again with him being a DJ in a ballad; An emotional garage classic psychedelia music to Mainliner is almost bizarre and tiwsted that would make the band almost take an acid trip. The 8-minute piece Reality becomes more symphonic prog in a Deep Purple way and the finale of The Bath Song is another rock opera that is mysterious of the killing of an innocent vicitim while taking a Bath. Second Hand would release two more albums before calling it a day in 1971. The two members from Second Hand Kieran O'Connor and Ken Elliot would later form the Sci-Fi band Seventh Wave in 1974. An X-ray cover of a skeletal hand at a London Hospital that is twisted and weird? Who would have thought about that!