Monday, 14 July 2014

Odessey and Oracle- The Zombies

The Zombies had a fleeting affair with success, in the brief period between 1965 and 1968 the band released some great 45's, including She's Not There which was a big hit in the U.S in 1965, the band were never able to achieve commercial success in the U.K, She's Not There was their biggest hit reaching #12. After two years without success the band signed to CBS record in 1967 and in June of that year they went into Abbey Road studios where they cut the masterpiece Odessey and Oracle, a brilliant slice of British psychedelia. It's such a crisp and musically diverse album, flawlessly played and intricate. The harmonies on the album are a standout, a little reminiscent of the Beach Boys at their prime.

The album was recorded between June and November 1967 and was recorded on a tight budget, CBS obviously not hopeful of commercial success, the album was not guaranteed of a U.S release only at the behest of Al Kooper did the album get issued in the states. Care of Cell 44 has a sunny musical backdrop but has a darker more twisted tale to tell, it's about the return of a lover from a stay in prison of all places. It seems the Zombies were deeply influenced by the Revolver album and also the Pet Sounds album, baroque pop stylings against layered harmonies. Most of the album was recorded at Abbey Road studios with engineer Geoff Emerick and it has that crisp sound that the Beatles had on Revolver. A Rose For Emily has a dramatic solo piano opening, providing a haunting backdrop. Cascading vocals are then draped gently over the chorus, Colin Blunstone was an underrated vocalist with a clear concise vocal style. Maybe After His Gone is another pop gem, Emerick captures Hugh Grundy's drums in a similar vein to the way he did with Ringo Starr on Revolver. Beechwood Park has a distinct crisp drum sound and for the first time captures the the dense organ harmonies of Rod Argent. The song is a nostalgic vignette something that was popular in British popular music in the late 60's.

Do you remember summer days
Just after summer rain
When all the air was damp and warm
In the green of country lanes

Hung Up On A Dream is classic British psychedelia a harder guitar edge against the lilting backdrop of strings. I Want Her She Wants Me has the same sunny feel as the Beatles' Good Day Sunshine, it's more stripped back even with the strains of harpsichord played on a mellotron. This Will Be Our Year continues that Revolver inspiration with a more soulful outing, Blunstone vocals take on a more rougher hew. The album closes with the classic Time Of The Season, stripped back, funky and juxtaposed. It was the perfect accompaniment to the summer of love, but it's a song with darker undertones, a more ominous outlook that mirrored society at that time. It was also perhaps Rod Argents greatest studio moment with those fiery bluesy organ blasts. Every individual performance on this song is amazing, the striking bass of Chris White melds brilliantly with Hugh Grundy's jazz style drumming.

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