MAY 2022

THE ZOMBIES

ODESSEY & ORACLE

(1968)

 

Label : CBS (UK) / Date Records (USA)
 

Released : April 19th, 1968

 

Producer : The Zombies
 

Singles : ‘Friends Of Mine’, ‘Care Of Cell 44’, ‘Time Of The Season’, ‘ ‘Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)’.
 

Vinyl : Black vinyl / UK import / Remastered for this 30th Anniversary reissue 

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Released at the height of hippie hedonism and narcissism in 1968, Odessey & Oracle was a last gasp from the age of innocence for The Zombies, a London outfit who wouldn’t last long enough to see the release of their second album and swan song, let alone appreciate its genius.

 

Like The Beatles, The Zombies had well and truly left their Mersey beat sound behind by the late 60’s, trading the sonics of previous hits like ‘She’s Not There’ for a moodier, more sophisticated sound. It was indeed their crowning achievement - a Day-Glo, baroque-tinged masterpiece deserved of a place beside Pet Sounds or Sgt Pepper’s…

FILE UNDER 

The greatest albums of all time, the underrated, the influential, psyche rock, baroque pop masterpieces, chamber pop,

IF YOU LIKE

The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, The Hollies, Donovan, Badfinger,  The Byrds, The Monkees, Harry Nilsson, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Mamas & The Papas, Iron Wine, Modest Mouse, Father John Misty, Grizzly Bear, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Band Of Horses, Nada Surf, Spoon, Death Cab For Cutie, Peter Bjorn & John, TV On The Radio, Clap Your Hands & Say Yeah, Frightened Rabbit, Midlake, Animal Collective.

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TRACKS

A1. Care Of Cell 44

A2. A Rose For Emily

A3. Maybe After He's Gone

A4. Beechwood Park

A5. Brief Candles

A6. Hung Up On A Dream

B1. Changes

B2. I Want Her She Wants Me

B3. This Will Be Our Year

B4. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)

B5. Friends Of Mine

B6. Time Of The Season

WATCH

LISTENING NOTES:

  • The album was received indifferently in its day and the band decided to dissolve before its release. It has since gone on to attract a massive cult following and its critical recognition as a respected masterpiece was eventually received, remaining a word-of-mouth obscurity to this day. 

 

  • Unlike their contemporaries, they self-produced the album at Abbey Road Studios and Olympic Studios in London. During sessions at the former, they used percussion and a Studer four-track tape machine, the very same used on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band just two days earlier. Additionally, they used Geoff Emery and Peter Vince from Pepper sessions and there was a young assistant studiously working hard named Alan Parsons.​

 

  • A single from the album - ‘Time Of The Season’ - became a surprise hit in the US almost a year after the album’s release when a CBS staff producer recommended it to Date Records. Perfectly conjuring a psychedelic scene of the late 1960s, it has frequently been used in pop culture, appearing in Friends, South Park, Will & Grace, Sabrina and many depictions of the Vietnam War.

 

  • Another song, ‘This Will Be Our Year’ has proved to be of similar significance in film and TV, soundtracking the pivotal final scene in Schitt’s Creek as well as key moments in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Beauty & Tbe Beast amongst many others.

 

  • Notice a typo on the artwork? The misspelling of “odyssey” was a mistake by Terry Quirk, the designer of the LP cover, so they rolled with it at the time and claimed it to be intentional.

 

  • Despite perceiving themselves as incredibly unsuccessful, The Zombies has influenced a LOT of big musicians since and many modern indie fans cite them as well-ahead of their time, receiving some credit for revolutionising the keyboard in modern rock. It’s hard not to listen to The Shins, Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian or on a Sub Pop mixtape in 2007 without hearing their influence. Beyond that, the artists on record who sing their praises is a list of everyone from Tom Petty to Foo Fighters, The Bangles to Paul Weller of the Jam and even Opeth. 

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:

 

"Odessey and Oracle was their shining moment - a cornucopia of pop-art songs and elegant arrangements worthy of McCartney at his Revolver-era best."
- Record Collector.

“... a psych-pop treasure, decades ahead of its time, its complex arrangements and baroque instrumentation-were idealized harbingers of today's indie pop.”
- Pitchfork (9.3)

"Anyone with an interest in 60s artistic pop will adore the underrated Odessey and Oracle"
- Q,

"Their masterpiece... without doubt one of the best albums of its era."
- Mojo

"The beat boom's most refined and elegant group, they specialised in unashamedly romantic pop - whether heartfelt and personal, wistful and nostalgic, or inspired by literature.”
- The Times

"The Zombies were psychedelic gods...[Odessey] moved them from of-their-time to timeless"
- The Guardian