Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Zombies- Odessey and Oracle (1968)

Ok acerola. The duel is on. I am about to hit you with some serious pop right now. This is a forgotten blade buried deep within pop culture, an example of how fleeting fame can be to a group of ninjas that were known solely for a single technique, instead of being appreciated for the vast catalogue of skills and limit breaks they produced in their heyday. I give you The Zombies.

A British band who reached their high water mark with one hit song from a otherwise ignored yet absolutely stunning album, these dudes were serious. They were a five piece band that all sang, focusing instrumentally on keyboard, bass and drums, and featuring their skills with vocal harmonies and hooks; these dudes fully embraced choral vocal styles and interesting song structures, especially so for 1968. The only other band at the time that wrote pop songs and did not incorporate the guitar predominantly in their music were The Doors†; The Zombies were unique, smart, and catchy, and had the skills and imagination to separate themselves enough from being pigeonholed solely as "pop music". This is surely a reason they were not given more acclaim. It was not as adventurous a time for their kind of music, with classic albums from The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones dominating the airwaves†, and they were never shown the proper spotlight for their work. The one small spotlight they were given came from their 15 minutes of fame with the release of Time of the Season.

Time of the Season is great enough to be a #1 hit song, yet it never rose above #3 on the Billboard charts. If you haven't heard it in a while, it is so great that you might not realistically remember how good it actually is. I only stall on sharing it with you to bide time for a quick reflection.

People unfamiliar with Odessey and Oracle may not have heard the second to last track of the album: Friends of Mine came in at track 11, right before the epic last track of the LP, Time of the Season. It is a very lovely combo of songs to feature at the end of an album, and specifically back to back. Friends of Mine is a harmless love song about being a third wheel, hanging out with various couples that you totally give props to for finding each other. It is a hopeful song, upbeat and positive, relating their awesome relationships back to your own hope of finding the right person yourself. Here you go:

And how do you follow up a super poptastic appreciation of love? You offer up the most pimptasticly smooth song about looking for summertime romance, of course. You're young, its hot outside, you want to find someone interesting, and naturally you play it super cool. For good measure, you add in some ridiculously great keyboard solos. Time of the Season:

And that is just the end of the album; the download I have linked to also includes an EP released soon after Odessey and Oracle, and that in itself is an utterly dusty blade. It was made and then no one ever saw it; it just sat in a studio and hardly saw the light of day. The entire package is full of greatness: Odessey starts the show off with Care of Cell 44, a hugely upbeat love letter to the girl for whom you are waiting to finally get out of jail and come back home to resume your relationship together. It is dark in the lightest possible sense: the EP is full of other blades that are just as pop-tastic, such as Don't Cry For Me, or the criminally unknown If It Don't Work Out.

One last song: this one you may recall from the cover of it in Kill Bill Vol 2, after the Bride puts her daughter to bed in Bills house and walks down the hallway on her way to kill him. Its a neat scene, and a neat cover, but this original is some great old school pop.

Check it, or I get a +5 bonus to all stats AND a limit break.

odessey and oracle

†These four tracks by The Doors, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones (respectively) are all taken from their 1968 releases, Waiting for the Sun, The White Album, Smile , and Beggars Banquet.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Zombies, was heavy into them in high school! Still listen to them sometimes...