Friday, July 27, 2007

No. 80: Odessey and Oracle

Band: The Zombies
Album: Odessey and Oracle
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The only true Zombies album, "Odessey and Oracle" s consdiered the band's masterpiece. The single "Time Of The Season" is considered a classic and critics adore the album. Like "Sgt. Pepper's," "Forever Changes" and "Pet Sounds" before it, "Odessey and Oracle" is considered a "summer of love" album due to its baroque pop nature.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Wow, does this sound dated. There is not a song on here, save for "Time Of The Season," that I wouldn't skip past if I wasn't reviewing it for this project. The nasally vocals, the proto-progressive psychedelia and the strangeness (though, referential, something I enjoy) of the lyrics make for a wild ride. Not in a good way.
Best song: "Time Of The Season" is, hands down, the best song on the record.
Worst song: "Hung On A Dream" isn't very good.
Is it awesome?: It's not terrible, but it's terribly dated.

One of the problems that hangs over "Odessey and Oracle" is that of comparison. To put it up against either of the two types of record to which it is compared is foolish. It pales in comparison to the "Sgt. Pepper"/"Forever Changes"/"Pet Sounds" triumvirate; The "Summer of Love" trio here is much better than "Odessey."

The other comparison -- made mostly because of the record's lyrical content and time changes -- is to progressive rock, including the psychedelia of the first Pink Floyd album (also recorded and released around the same time), "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn." Mostly, though, there is an inevitable comparison to the Genesises, King Crimsons and ELPs of the world and that's idiotic.

Probably the problem lies in that "Odessey" takes from both camps, in a big way. The art-rock tendencies of the band make for some interesting lyrical and musical experimentation; "Odessey" features songs about World War I, prison life and, of course, love.

Still, it's dated. It seems like the harmonies were done better by the Beatles, the strange time changes were better by Love and the overall production was superior on "Pet Sounds." If you actually wanted superior strangeness in lyrical content and musical drive, certainly "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" could supply that for you. "Odessey" just seems to fall through the cracks.

All I could think in listening to the album is that it isn't an easy listen. I strained to find anything remotely catchy and the middle of the album sounds mostly like English folky stuff. I was not and am not impressed.

1 comment:

toppop100 said...

I certainly agree with you on 'Odessey and Oracle.'
I found it an immense disappointment after I finally got my hands on a copy around ten years ago. Far superior records in a similar vein were made by Swedish band Tages - Studio (1967) and, after they changed their name to Blond, The Lilac Years (1969).

Of course, no one at Rolling Stone probably ever thought of looking into European rock and pop, and so missed them. But they are both pretty much the kind of record you'd be expecting after reading about 'Odessey and Oracle' but definitely will not get.