An amazingly bombastic concept album about the Apocalypse of St. John seen as a rock spectacle. Demis Roussos wails the lyrics in a frantically operatic falsetto, while the band pound fiercely through Vangelis' furiously complex music. It certainly has its moments, but the entire set eventually becomes too overwhelming to sit through.
- Steven McDonald (All Music Guide)
Costas Ferris wrote a concept book for the "666" album: Saint John's "Revelation" (The Apocalypse as they call it in Greek), and this subject had to be seen through the culture of the sixties.
A big circus Troupe, giving a big circus Show, based on the Apocalypse. Acrobats, dancers, tumbelines, elephants, tigers and horses. Of course, the reference to the "Beatles" "Sgt Peppers" is obvious.
While the show goes on, light and sound effects in all their glory, something is happening outside the circus tent. It is the real revelation disaster going on, staged by God himself.
The audience believes that what is happening outside, is part of the show. But the narrator, who understands that something strange is happening, gets hysterical.
At the end the big tent disappears. and the two "shows" unite, in a great battle between Good and Evil, between the real Revelation-End-of the-World, and the its staged representation.
* (note from Costas Ferris) The term "book" (usually "book and lyrics") is used by the writers and lyricists of the American Musical, to translate the Italian Opera and Ballet term of "libretto". It consists of a minimal description of the stage action, possibly recited text (recitativi), and lyrics for the "arias" ("songs"). It all comes from the aesthetics of the Rinucini Camerata in Florence, 16th century, for the revival of the ancient Greek drama (tragedy), that created the first Operas ("Euridice", "Orpheus" etc.)
"Tommy" was the first attempt to create a "rock opera", inventing a new structure, where the action does not have a theatrical (dramatic) continuity, but it is described by successive "songs" (arias), who describe different point of view narrations. Kit Lambert, the producer of "Tommy", was the son of the classic music composer Constant Lambert, and he was my (Costas) friend since 1963. The fact that we were both movie-professionals (Kit was the Unit Manager in the film "The Moonspinners", where I was assistant director), I believe had it's impact on both, "Tommy" and "666".
The source of "666" being the Apocalypse of John, that is a religious (oriented) book, made me (Costas)choose the term of "oratorio" (Rock Oratorio). The first "Oratorio" in history, was "Rapresentazione di Anima e di Corpo" by Emilio di Cavalieri, 1600, some months before the first opera by Caccini. Di Cavalieri himself in his letters insists that it is the first opera ever created, but the religious essence of his work and the static evolution of his "drama", imposed the term of "oratorio" instead.
The narration of "666" meant to be looser than "Tommy", but more rigid and strict than "Sgt Pepper's", so I (Costas) (sort of) "invented" the term of "concept book", that became a "concept album". That also was not my original idea, because in the early 1960s, the famous Greek composers Hadjidakis, Theodorakis and others, had already created a series of records with a main central theme for all the songs. They had called this form "cycle of songs".
So, I wrote the lyrics of the songs, based on a sort of written design, also using the "time-puzzle" narration of films such as "Intolerence", "Citizen Kane", "Rashomon", "The Killing" (Kubrick's) and so on.