There’s something romantic about the idea of a band that’s already decided to implode putting an album together. No commercial pressures, no fear of the critics, just an overriding urge to make something great. That’s essentially how “Oddesey and Oracle” was born.
Of course, officially The Zombies broke up in 1966, after making themselves famous with the awesome “She’s not there” a couple of years previously, but bassist Chris White convinced them to do that one final album, which became, ironically, their biggest hit.
“Odessey…” (And yes, the spelling mistake is deliberate) took me a few listens to really get my death into, but once you can see it as a whole you realise just what a perfect snippet of sixties pop at its finest this is. It’s not a psychedelic album (apart from a few Byrds-ey jangles on”Hung up on a Dream”), it’s not a rock album, but it fits perfectly with the time.
From the opener, “Care of Cell 44” through to the end, this is gentle, warm and exquisite lay penned pop. “A Rose for Emily” is like a superior cousin to “Eleanor Rigby”, capturing the sad fate of a lonely forgotten woman. “Maybe after he’s gone” is honestly emotive and has an annoyingly catchy chorus, while “Beechwood Park”, the moving “Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)” and famous closer “Time of the Season” stand out, all superb in their own way. But for me, the highlight of the album has to be the wonderful “This Will Be Our Year”, a magnificent hopeful song (that apparently showed up in a recent episode of “Mad Men”) that just sounds more lovely every time I play it.
Oh, and how gorgeous is that album cover? Despite the misspelling of ‘odyssey’, it was loved by the band, who renamed the album to suit it. Can’t blame them really.