The Zombies create the perfect album with Odessey and Oracle

Odessey_and_oracleOf all the lost masterpieces covered on these pages, The Zombies ‘Odessey and Oracle’ is probably the finest of the bunch. Quite why it hasn’t been featured is beyond me.

The LP was released with very limited success, which meant Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone & Co split a mere fortnight after its release. However, the album’s standout single, ‘Time Of The Season‘ was a surprise hit in the US, which gave the band currency again. On the strength of the music included in the LP, I fear they may have broken up because they knew music had just reached a new zenith, which would never be bettered.

I could break this LP down track by track and twitter on about the genius of each cut, but that would be a bit self indulgent. So twisting my own arm, let’s look at the highlights of an LP that doesn’t have one duff track on it.

The opener, Care of Cell 44, is probably the greatest Side One – Track One on any psychedelic album ever. Baroque pop meets Pet Sounds meet Forever Changes meets The Zombies at their absolute peak of their powers. Glorious fifty-part harmonies hang over a rousing piano led psych/pop backbone which has you under its spell from the moment it sets off. You’re already suckered in mid way through the verse before the chorus comes along and sets your soul alight. ‘Cell 44’ is epic without being heavy and broody… quite the opposite in fact as the song is pure sunshine (without the twee summery-ness of many tunes of the mid sixties).

The album dips in pace but not in quality for the ballad of ‘A Rose For Emily‘. Once more, a stunning array of vocal harmonies swirl around over a beautiful piano, before giving way to a clutch of breathtaking tracks. ‘Maybe After He’s Gone’, ‘Beechwood Park’ and ‘Brief Candles’ could have all been contenders for single of the decade, should a better known band release them. This being the fickle sixties, these were largely ignored in favour of Sgt Pepper (over-rated but important granted).

Beechwood Park‘ which sits in the middle of the first side is a druggy evening sat in the summer dusk. Subtle studio effects turn a woozy psych track into something all the more special. Like many psych songs of the day, the track is keen on nostalgia. Instead of creating some faux rag-time song or some novelty jazz piece (see ‘When I’m Sixty Four’) the group focused on making the song sound like a memory. Sepia shot, a bit fuzzy around the edges, but (for its day) modern as you like. The stupendous opening bars are coupled with the dreamy "Do you remember golden days just after summer rain?" to create a wonderful comedown from whatever.

Staggering the sides, the band once again hit a high water mark with ‘Hung Up On A Dream’, ‘Changes’ and ‘I Want Her She Wants Me’. ‘Changes‘, is admittedly perfect pop music, but somehow manages to incorporate the sounds of The Incredible String Band and early Marc Bolan. Genius. These segue into one of the best bits of music this writer has ever heard. ‘This Will Be Our Year‘, with descending chords (a la the Fab Four, or The Hollies) manages to be just about the most positive thing ever to grace your ears. When you find yourself dewy eyed, alone in your livingroom singing along to "I won’t forget the way you helped me up when I was down, and I won’t forget the way you said ‘darling I love you, you gave me faith to go on", you know… you just know.

Time Of The Season‘ closes the LP, which, in fairness, you probably know all about. The surprise stateside smash features The Zombies at their jazzy-psych best. Famously ripped off by Os Mutantes for their ‘Ando Meio Desligado’, the tune stealthy grooves along with a brilliant off kilter rhythm section before searing into one of the most thrilling hammond solos on record.

The CD reissue comes with a whopping 16 bonus tracks of B-Sides, non album singles and more. I was going to say that no record collection is complete without this LP, but that would be doing Odessey a disservice. Basically, this album is so great that your person, your wellbeing… your life… isn’t complete without this record. Buy it now. It WILL change your life.

Mof Gimmers

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2 Responses to “The Zombies create the perfect album with Odessey and Oracle”

  1. kandti Says:

    justice is done!! what a classic

    earlier zombies stuff is great as well – there’s a decca a and b sides comp which captures most of the goodness. lovely melodic naive three minute songs with incredibly interesting and original arrangements. their r&b covers are awful though – this band never ‘rocked’ 😉

  2. mof gimmers Says:

    Indeed it is! I’ve also discovered that it’s my 10th anniversary of having the LP, so as a result, it hasn’t been off the turntable!

    Magic!

    Fancy doing a review of the Zombies comp? Send it to the email above if you do!

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