The Zombies, Odessey and Oracle
The Zombies' final album, and one of the high marks of '60s British pop
Al Kooper, the omnipresent producer and session player, saved the Zombies' album Odessey and Oracle, from extinction. He found a copy in London and, back in New York, pushed it to Clive Davis, head of Columbia Records, saying he heard three hit singles on it. They got one — "Time of the Season" — which was plenty, especially considering that the Zombies had disbanded by the time the album came out in the U.S., in 1968.
So, were there two other hits among the dozen tracks? It doesn't matter. Consider the circumstances: Keyboardist Rod Argent and bassist Chris White, the main composers, were itching to form another band (Argent); this was just a farewell gesture three frustrating years after their last hit ("Tell Her No"); the sessions were rushed. Still, they produced a superb album that deserved Davis' attention. Sure, there could've been other hits, like "Care of Cell 44" and "Friends of Mine." But every cut will be interesting, especially for lovers of British pop of that period. Vocalist Colin Blunstone and gang evoke the Kinks, the Beatles, Badfinger and the Alan Price Set. They mount gorgeous harmonies and mix piano, guitars and mellotron behind songs of various moods, from empathy for the lonely ("A Rose for Emily") and weary optimism ("This will be our year; took a long time to come") to the curious ("What's your name? Who's your daddy?"). It all adds up to what Kooper heard those 40-something years ago: one fine album.