19 April 2013

19th April - The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle

Artist – Album: The Zombies – Odessey & Oracle
Released:  19th April 1968
Sounds Like: Everything you want a great 60's album to sound like

From the goofy misspelt title to the eye sore of the album cover, there’s much on first glance at this Zombies record that doesn’t work. Indeed, a first spin of the opening song ‘Care of Cell 44’ may confirm your worst suspicions that this is the nothing more than typical flower power fluff of the late 60’s, like the aural equivalent of the original Batman TV series, or Austin Powers.

Repeated listens of that first song though reveal it to be way more than a real life version of Spinal Tap’s ‘We Are the Flower People’. With an intriguing premise (written as a letter to a soon-to-be released inmate from their love back home), playful song structure – check out that middle choral harmony break, as good as anything the Beach Boys put together – and a catchy, if insanely happy, tune. Its excellent blend of simplicity and depth has seen it covered by many, including important modern(ish) artists such as Elliott Smith and Of Montreal. Likewise, the entire album is on one level a light hearted romp through the psychedelic pop, but packed to the brim with hidden subtleties and nuances that prevent it from ever going stale.

The well known hits like ‘This Will Be Our Year’ and ‘Time of the Season’ obviously sparkle, and if you’re not familiar with them then you’ve got some living to do, but the whole album is phenomenal. Friends of Mine’ and ‘I Want Her, She Wants Me’ are delirious, infectious froth. ‘Maybe After He’s Gone’ and ‘Brief Candles’ are autumnal songs with a deep sense of longing; ‘Butcher’s Tale’ is a haunting war ballad, with a sombre verse but stunning chorus; and ‘Hung Up On a Dream’ is a pocket psychedelic symphony.

Before today, fifteen of the one hundred and eight albums reviewed on this blog had earned themselves that dreamt of score of ten out of ten. This is number sixteen. And, despite its flaws, it may be my favourite of the lot.

Albumaday... rating: 10/10

1.       Care of Cell 44 – 3:57
2.       A Rose for Emily – 2:19
3.       Maybe After He’s Gone – 2:34
4.       Beechwood Park – 2:44
5.       Brief Candles – 3:30
6.       Hung Up on a Dream – 3:02
7.       Changes – 3:20
8.       I Want Her, She Wants Me – 2:53
9.       This Will Be Our Year – 2:08
10.   Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914) – 2:48
11.   Friends of Mine – 2:18
12.   Time of the Season – 3:34

Listen to ‘This Will Be Our Year’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf7wRe4AUtU

Also released on the 19th April:
1971: The Doors – L.A. Woman
Also released on the 19th April:
2005: Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations

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