Odessey & Oracle

Artist: 
The Zombies
Non-Airable Tracks: 
NONE
Label: 
Varese Sarabande Records
Album Art: 

The past two years have seen the 50th anniversaries (and subsequent re-releases) of two of the most important albums in music history - The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds (originally released in 1966) and The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). It only seems fitting then, that we continue the 50th anniversary celebration with another re-release of a seminal album of the 60's. While overlooked in comparison to Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's, The Zombies' second album Odessey and Oracle (1968) certainly holds its own musically and has clearly influenced many musicians in the 50 years since its original release. While perhaps not as revolutionary as the slightly older albums, Odessey and Oracle in many ways, effortlessly blends together the sadly sincere baroque pop of PS and the stranger, more psychedelic elements of Sgt.P's to create something that exists in the middle and that stands on its own as an influencer of later psychedelic music. Odessey and Oracle feels more carefree, tongue-in-cheek, and relaxed than the other two albums. 

Let's get away from comparing it to other works of art, though, and look at the album on its own. From its happy keyboard riffs, layered harmonies (they go deep), and baroque stylings (the horns! the flutes! the organs!), this album is just a delight and will brighten your mood. This is the sort of music that'd play if you found yourself in a montage of walking down the street, smiling at everyone you see - people are dancing in the street behind you, and a stranger offers you a bouquet of flowers. It's that sort of bouncy feeling that boy groups from the 60's were really good at making. Of course, while it's not all fun and games, the more tongue-in-cheek or critical songs (see: "Care of Cell 44and "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)") do not falter in their delivery, and the sincerity in some of the songs will warm your heart ("Friends of Mine" is so pure). The classics, of course stand on their own - "Time of the Season" is still a catchy-as-hell song with an unforgettable beat and the sort of harmonies that just run around and echo your head. If you don't recognize it by name, if you have ever listened to a classic rock station, watched a documentary on the 1960's, or stepped foot in a Five and Diner, I can almost guarantee you will recognize it. "A Rose For Emily" is still a sad tale about poor, loveless Emily, but is still a great song with a soft sentiment and again - great harmonies. 

 At 19 tracks long (featuring the original 12 songs plus seven miscellaneous bonus alternate/mono/stereo versions, backing tracks), this 50th release is a perfect way to introduce a newer generation to this great piece of work. I myself am a bit ashamed to say that even though I've spent hours debating the finer points between Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's, I had never really listened to the entire album until I picked it up to review. But now I'm in love with all of the tracks and understand the hype! If you listen to psychedelic music (pop or rock) today, you will enjoy Odessey and Oracle and realize how much this album has influenced psychedelic rock through the years. The Zombies have a pretty exciting year ahead of them - they're nominees for the class of 2018 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as going on tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this album. Listen to this album, take in a piece of music history, and understand the hype - you'll be glad you did. 

Sounds Like: 
The Beatles
Sounds Like: 
The Beach Boys
Sounds Like: 
The Monkees
Sounds Like: 
Sonny and the Sunsets
Recommended Tracks: 
#8 "I Want Her She Wants Me" - a sweet little song about a rare reciprocal romance; refreshingly happy
#10 "Butcher's Tale (Western From 1914)" - the most psychedelic on the album, a reverb-y condemnation of war (particularly WWI) with great imagery and fantastic organs
#11 "Friends of Mine"- This song is so, so, SO pure - about loving how your friends are in love. Play to be reminded of the love the world holds.
#12 "Time of the Season" - Seductive and catchy, a classic song of the 60s with gorgeous melodies that has withstood the test of time.
#16 "A Rose For Emily" - Pretty much the same as the usual "Rose", but has cellos; a very nice twist on another classic song
Name: 
Katie Fapp
Date Reviewed: 
10/30/2017