Revisiting A Classic: Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies

By Neil Manning
Music Journalist

It’s 1968, and the past two years saw releases of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s, respectively. Two amazing albums that sounded so different, but truly remarkable. In 1968, a third album in the same vein is set to be released, Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies, an album that I feel is lost and forgotten in this decade of amazing music.

After not much success from their first singles, The Zombies had decided to split up before the album even came out. While Odessey and Oracle didn’t get much popularity when it first came out, it ended up becoming a cult classic. Listening to it all the way through, there are many things you will notice about the album. The first thing that stands out to me is the production. As I listen to it, it almost feels like it could have been released within the past ten years. Each instrument sounds clear and spectacular. The drums especially sound clear and full. Each time you listen to a song and the drums come in, they get your attention immediately. You notice the clear sound and captivating drum fills. Another noteworthy part of the album is the use of harmonies. On “A Rose For Emily,” the harmonies are beautifully well done. It carries the passion and pulls you into the song. The instrumentation is very well crafted and carry you from song to song.

The next thing that makes this album a classic is the song quality. The songs are high quality with their well written catchy melodies, soothing lyrics and overall good songs. The most accurate way to describe the songs on this album is Sgt. Pepper’s meets Pet Sounds. It’s a good blend of the two, as it has the psychedelic feel of The Beatles while also containing the easy listening of The Beach Boys. “Care Of Cell 44” is a good example of this. The instrumentation feels a bit experimental, similar to The Beatles. The vocals, especially during the bridge, feel a bit more innocent, similar to The Beach Boys. The second track on the album, “A Rose For Emily” is comparable to “Eleanor Rigby.” It’s heavy on vocals with somber lyrics. It uses a piano throughout the song, instead of an orchestra like “Eleanor Rigby,” and seems a little bit more positive than “Eleanor Rigby” with the use of piano. “A Rose For Emily” shows that this isn’t just a typical pop album.

I think the highest point of songwriting on this album is “This Will Be Our Year.” A remarkable love song with touching lyrics. In this opening line, “The warmth of your love’s like the warmth of the sun,” you can feel the beauty behind the song. The song that is most widely recognized from this album is the finale, “Time Of The Season.” While I personally am not a big fan of this song, I can see why it’d gain popularity. If you took out the vocal styling, that is a bit more harmonious than the Arctic Monkeys, it feels a lot like a predecessor to an Arctic Monkey’s song. It has a cool vibe to it, that captures the essence of the song.

Odessey and Oracle is coming up on 50 years, but still seems to be a bit of a hidden gem from the 60s. It gets overlooked and forgotten, but adds a lot to the sounds that were coming out at the time. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend you listen from beginning to end with a pair of headphones and enjoy.

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