on 30 May 2001
The Zombies were not your standard, down-and-dirty, working-class rockers. They were a quintet of polite English schoolboys from the provincial town of St Albans, Hertfordshire, who turned professional aged 19.
Their crowning glory, recorded at the end of 1967, was Odessey and Oracle, probably the closest we have to a British 'Pet Sounds', the precision 3-part harmonies of lead singer Colin Blundstone and songwriters Rod Argent and Chris White forming the album's distinctive sound. Every track is an unforgetable gem - from the tweeness of 'Friends of Mine' to White's mournful vocal on the haunting 'Butchers Tale'; from the pure pop balladry of 'This Will Be Our Year' to the psychedlic period-piece 'Beechwood Park'. And, of course, we mustn't forget the monster hit single 'Time Of The Season'. No wall of sound or wailing guitar solos here - just crafted pop at its very very best.
on 17 January 2014
One of those forgotten classics of the sixties, this was first released in 1968. Prior to buying it I knew of the album from frequent references as a "classic" but was only familiar with the first and last tracks (Care Of Cell 44 and Time Of The Season). It's a good album but very much of its time, reminiscent of contemporaries like the Moody Blues and the Small Faces' Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. Overall I found it well worth owning, but probably an album I'll be dusting off every year or two rather than playing through every couple of months.
Many bands (the Beatles, the Beach Boys) at least dabbled in psychedelica, but the Zombies are often overlooked. For the 30th anniversary of "Odessey and Oracles," the Zombies' best album was rereleased in a new form, proving that their enchanting psychedelic pop has aged exceeedingly well.
The Zombies were unusually good at taking perky, sweet, lush music and wrapping it around a more serious song, such as the upbeat "Care of Cell 44" (guy writing to his jailed girlfriend), or the lovely "A Rose For Emily," a poignant little song that tells of a lonely woman doomed to stay lonely. "And as the years go by/she will grow old and die/The roses in her garden fade away/Not one left for her grave..."
But the Zombies aren't all sadness wrapped in happy music. There are perky songs about being happy in love, losing a love and hoping she'll return, and reminiscing about "golden days and golden summer nights." The album ends on a reassuring note with the laid-back "Time of the Season," which sounds like the ultimate hippie anthem.
I have no memories of the 60s, since I was only born in the eighties. But "Odessey and Oracle" gives a rosy glow to that era,. Psychedelic flair minus the hazy, and every song is a gem. Though "Time of the Season" was the sleeper hit from the album, it's not the best or catchiest song on here -- it's just one of many excellent ones.
Rod Argent was definitely an outstanding songwriter. He was able to create atmospheric and beautiful songs with very simple writing ("Brief candles in her mind/bright and tiny gems of memory"). Perhaps his finest moment here is "I knew he when summer was her crown/and autumn sad/how brown her eyes," as a kick-off to a colorful look at a woman compared to all the seasons.
Colin Blunstone's vocals were well-suited to the music: a bit husky, quite pleasant and mellow. The music itself was generally based on guitar, gentle drums, pretty piano, and wavering Mellotron, with a bit of accordian coming in in one song. There's a rich interweaving of many instruments, in all sorts of pop music. Some is almost classical in tone, some is uptempo stuff that is perfect for the radio.
The Zombies were in peak form in "Odessey and Oracle," churning out some of the purest pop music ever. As sweet and exquisite as it was in the 1960s.
on 24 June 2006
The English 1960's band the Zombies seemed to have all what it took to be a success. Two unsually gifted songwiters in Rod Argent and Chris White and two outstanding singers, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent (again). What they may have lacked was a little more "edge" to balance their melodic music and "nice school-boys" image.
They actually did have early success with their 1964 single "She's Not There". But in spite of several strong singles were recorded and released during 1965-66, they somehow were not able to follow-up their early success.
So in early 1967 the band had not had a hit-record for more than two years, and it seemed that their time was over. They decided to record a final "real" album before they'd split up. The result was the highly acclaimed "Odessey and Oracle" which they recorded during the second half of 1967.
Of course they had hoped that one of the two first singles taken from these recordings "Friends of Mine" and "Care of Cell 44" would bring them back into the charts. And since this did not happen they assumed their time was over, so they disbanded before the album was actually released in April 1968.
Another single was chosen to promote the album, and the succeeding big success of "Time of the Season" in America came as a complete surprise. The album itself also reached the lower parts of the charts in the States.
Their music has proving its viability over the years, and this album contains some of their finest moments, with great tunes from both Argent and White.
After their unexpected 1968 "comeback" effort were made to secure a Zombies re-union. But Rod Argent and Chris White were already deeply involved in gathering a new band, which eventually would become "Argent".
In this transition period Argent and White were persuaded to do a final "Zombies" album which was given the title "R.I.P."
The album was supposed to consist of earlier out-takes and demos, ( with new overdubbings ) combined with new recordings.
This 12-songs "new" album was for release some time in 1969 but the album which had been given the title "R.I.P." was never released.
This was a big shame, as it would have been a great album.
In recent years this album has actually been released in Japan and all songs have been released released on various compilations. Here among the bonus-tracks you'll 11 of these songs of which most equals on the actual album. The box-set "Zombie Heaven" contains all 12 songs.
6 of these "R.I.P." songs are original Zombies recordings from 1964-66, featuring Colin Blustone on vocals. He was called in to record new vocals to "Walking in the Sun" which is the earliest track, from late 1964, but he is not involved in any of the "new" 1968 recordings. Rod Argent, who is also an incredibly fine singer, takes over the vocals on these tracks. All these 1968 songs / recordings are great. "Imagine the Swan", "Smokey Day", "Girl Help Me", "I Could Spend the Day" are outstanding songs. "Imagine the Swan" was released as a single and was a minor hit in America.
The earlier recordings featuring Colin Blunstone are equally strong. "If It Don't Work Out" was written for Dusty Springfield in 1965. The song was also released as the Zombies' final single in July 1969.
So apart from the one missing song ( "I'll Keep Trying" ) this highly recommed CD contains two great Zombies albums.
on 15 April 2009
I can't enthuse about this enough since buying it last month! Odyssey and Oracle is a quite literally a revelation and worthy of all the british Pet Sounds hype! I can see why Paul Weller rates it so highly - sort of psychedelic folk rock but so catchy and poppy and not a bad track in twelve! Blunstone's plangent vocals and Argent's swirling organ and White's bounding bass the whole thing's a summer joy tinged with autumnal melancholy. A rose for Emily is as good as Eleanor Rigby and as moving, Beechwood park and Brief candles are incredible hymns to memory and loss and Time of the Season as a vintage slice of sixties psychedelia. These guys are up there with The Beatles and The Beach Boys let alone The Kinks and Small Faces who never made an album as good as this! I've run out of hyperbole for this wonderful life enhancing record and they came from the Ancient Roman hub of Britain St Albans! Buy this expanded edition ( unbelievably the 16 extra tracks are good too! ) and go and see 'em at Hammersmith at the end of the month play it live for the last time. Then you'll be playing it for the rest of your life - I know I will.
on 31 December 2013
I will always come back to this album. Lyrical and of otherworldly beauty (well a bit morbid at times but that's not what I meant:)
This is one of them albums that should have disappeared without a trace (and it did, until it started selling 10 years after its release day).. Recorded at Abbey Road studios in the summer of 67', to me this album is superior to 'the best album of all time' - Sgt. Pepper - which was recorded in the same studio around the same time. Don't get me wrong, I love the Beatles but 'Odessey' (misprint) is a timeless masterpiece of a record, far exceeding whatever the aforementioned, more famous quartet from Liverpool ever aspired to achieve.
Enough said! Thanks The Zombies for taking me to places I never even imagined even existed.
on 26 April 2009
A gorgeous, quietly joyous album. Hung up on a Dream and Beechwood Park are soaring, aching songs of shimmering delicacy. Colin Blunstone's vocals are almost celestial, whilst The Butcher's Song jolts in its rawness but is remarkable for its compassion - and Chris White sounds not unlike John Lennon.Time of the Season, a number three hit in America, brings the album to a sultry, balmy close. You can taste summer all the way through and smell the coming sad-sweet autumn too. The Zombies should have go on and on.But if they had to bow out, this was the way to do it.
on 4 February 2012
Odessey & Oracle is a superb album, which I have owned since it was first released in 1968. Since its first release it has been re-issued many times, often with additional tracks, so a word to the wise here. Be careful when following Amazon's links to alternate versions, particularly mp3 albums, since they tend to contain only the original set of tracks from 1968, as follows:
1. Care Of Cell 44
2. Rose For Emily
3. Maybe After He's Gone
4. Beechwood Park
5. Brief Candles
6. Hung Up On A Dream
8. I Want Her She Wants Me
9. This Will Be Our Year
10. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)
11. Friends Of Mine
12. Time Of The Season
However, the CD album with ASIN: B00005B0PU (Odessey & Oracle [Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued]) has an additional 16 tracks not included in the mp3 album, the extra tracks being as follows:
13. I'll Call You Mine
14. She Loves The Way They Love Her
15. Imagine The Swan
16. Smokey Day
17. If It Don't Work Out
18. I Know She Will
19. Don't Cry For Me
20. Walking In The Sun
21. Conversations Off Floral Street
22. I Want You Back Again
23. Gotta Get A Hold Of Myself
24. Goin' Out Of My Head
25. She Does Everything For Me
26. Nothing's Changed
27. I Could Spend The Day
28. Girl Help Me
on 20 February 2014
I got this album because I'm always interested by cult albums. For me it is always a good sign when there is a devoted following decades after release despite the current lack of general knowledge of its existence. I was blown away by some of the tracks on initial listen ('hung up on a dream' and 'time of the season' especially), which gave me reason to come back and listen to the album and discover the joys of the darker and more obscure other tracks held within.
I now consider this one of the best pop albums of all time; easily as good as anything by the Beatles or Beach Boys that was being released at the same time. The album wastes no time, it is direct and to-the-point, being an album of 35 minutes with short pop songs, yet the content is diverse, occasionally complex and flows fantastically. It sounds fantastic as well, and has aged remarkably well, particularly the darker sides of the album that deal with aspects such as prison, and world war one. The lyrics range from the poetic to the brutal...
"I have seen a friend of mine, hang on the wire like some rag toy, and in the heat the flies come down, and cover up the boy"
...its just an album crammed to the brim with memorable line after memorable line, with catchy hooks and tunes and just about everything that makes a good album 'good'. Superb from start to end!
on 24 December 2014
A lovely collection of 12 songs written by Rod Argent and Chris White, this 1968 release is another of the forgotten classics from the progressive movement which was inspired by the likes of The Beatles. The opening track, 'Care Of Cell 44', with its gorgeous Beach Boys-inspired harmonies, is a marvellous opening track and the quality just keeps on coming. Lead vocalist, Colin Blunstone, shows what a fine song stylist he is throughout this LP. The closing track 'Time Of The Season', which was released as a promotional single, could easily have been a chart hit, but The Zombies, after the huge success enjoyed by 'She's Not There' in 1964, found it difficult to achieve major success in either the singles or albums market. Still, this is a superb album with plenty of interesting bonus tracks and I can heartily recommend it to fans of 1960s pop music.