Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Armageddon it on

YouTube served me up a record I haven’t heard in about 48 years the other day, and I’m still swooning over it.

Not because it was an especially great record. In fact, I bet it’s largely forgotten for the most part, but in the early ‘70s, at least in St. Louis, Mo., it was all the rage on KSHE-95—Real Rock Radio. That was the so-called progressive station in town, and it specialized in stuff you couldn’t get on Top 40 AM stations like KXOK. In the summer of ’73, they’d play whole sides of LPs in the vein of Dark Side of the Moon, and you’d hear lots of non-charting bands like String-Driven Thing, Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep, and It’s A Beautiful Day. All the Kool Kids listened to KSHE and sported T-shirts with its mascot, Sweetmeat the Pig.

Cue up the double album, 666, by Aphrodite’s Child.

The title alone gave this record some vicarious fascination. Was it demonic? Was it apocalyptic? I wasn’t sure, but one of the oft-played songs on it told of the four horses revealed when the lamb opens the seals. Straight out of Revelation. It’s an eerie song too, with ethereal vocals and tinkly bells, followed by scalding guitar solos. It’s been buried in my head for almost half a century.

Yet, when it played on YouTube, all of its nuances came back to me, preserved in my memory.

Aphrodite’s Child, by the way, included the keyboard/synth master, Vangelis, who died a few weeks ago. (I didn’t know he pronounced his name Van-GHEL-iss.) You can hear his lush influence all through the two discs, though most people remember him for the Chariots of Fire and Bladerunner music.

Anyway, it was the last song on the album, “Break,” that really gave me shivers. I haven’t given it one thought in all this time, yet it came rushing to the surface from deep inside my frontal lobe as the wistful piano started, and I had to drop everything, close my eyes, and listen. It took me back through decades like a bathyscaphe carrying me to the seabed. The hair on my arms stood up. All I could do was relish the goosebumps and let the experience happen.

This is how powerful music is. I don’t think any other art form has the same kind of effect, even if Proust puts some stock in the taste of childhood madeleines rendered in fiction. All I know is, when I hear music from heavily inflected times in my life, I feel it all.

It might not hit you as anything special, but you can listen to 666 any time you like. Thanks to YouTube, Spotify, et al., we can time travel whenever the fancy strikes.

What music from your earlier life still resonates today?


9 comments on “Armageddon it on

  1. pinklightsabre
    June 23, 2022

    Bathyscaphe! Nicely done Kevin, love the energy and detail in this. I know that feeling you describe. I’m not proud of this one, but the tune Night Moves takes me back to the late 70s when my dad would play that record. And the words of the song have their own nostalgia obviously. I could pick more interesting tunes for sure, a field of wildflowers to choose from and amen it is a lovely field to gaze upon. Be well…”sweetmeat!”

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 23, 2022

      Thanks, Bill! I can see how Night Moves could shoehorn its way into someone’s psyche. Mr. Seger was ever-present back then. I was just getting a similar “those days” buzz off of ELO’s “Strange Magic,” which conjured up really specific memories. Just one of those many wildflowers!

      • pinklightsabre
        June 23, 2022

        Yeah That ELO number is a winner. Rediscovered it with the kids film of the same name, so good. To those good times, I see and raise you one. Or some such 😝

  2. justdrivewillyou
    June 23, 2022

    Ah, the early days of FM radio, when they played whatever the hell they wanted. That was a great time.

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 23, 2022

      We used to walk right up to the KSHE studio window and make requests. “Can you play ‘Do What You Like’ by Blind Faith, man?” And they’d play it! Now there’s probably not even a DJ, because it’s all preprogrammed.

  3. Gary Trujillo
    June 23, 2022

    I love Vangelis, (I listen to Blade Runner radio to fall asleep) and am glad you brought this to my attention. Fantastico!

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 23, 2022

      I’m sure you’ll find lots to like in this. There’s the Vangelis keyboard stuff, but the guitarist is terrific too. 🤘

  4. loristory
    June 23, 2022

    I vividly remember lying in bed listening to the radio one morning in 1970 when Elton John’s “60 Years On” came on. I was blown away. And now, almost 60 years later, a friend turned me on to Brandi Carlile’s version. Just stunning! Mind blown again! And another blast from the past was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” performed two nights ago by Roger Waters et. al. on The Late Show. I liked their version better than the original!

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 23, 2022

      I just watched that Late Show clip. Wow! Waters sounds great, and the man is pushing 80.

      Isn’t it amazing how the old music holds up? I have a ton of musical memories like your Elton John one, and they send me right back to particular rooms/cars/places on particular days. How awesome is that? 😀

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This entry was posted on June 23, 2022 by in Music and tagged , , .
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