Friday, April 19, 2013

odessey and oracle







The Zombies finally took the helm for the recording of their grand and glorious psychedelic swansong.  The group had struggled to repeat the success of their early singles 'She's Not There' and 'Tell Her No'; and had signed to Columbia Records just before going into the studio to record 'Odessey and Oracle'.  The sessions were produced by the band at Abbey Road and Olympic Studios with Colin Blunstone on vocals; Rod Argent on organ, piano, mellotron, and vocals (lead vocals on "I Want Her, She Wants Me" and the first verse of "Brief Candles"); Paul Atkinson on guitar and vocals (on "Changes"); Chris White on bass guitar and vocals (lead vocals on "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)" and the second verse of "Brief Candles"); and Hugh Grundy on drums and vocals (on "Changes"). Geoff Emerick and Peter Vince handled the engineering of the recording.  

Argent reveals:   "We were the first band not signed to EMI that was allowed into Abbey Road. So we very much benefited from some of the technical advances the Beatles had made with 'Sgt Pepper'. They walked out and we walked in. We would go in with a basic arrangement worked out and then throw things on which were virtually improvised. We were kids in a sweetshop. It made everything seem possible. The whole of the 60s were a brilliant time to record because everything was exploding and there was such a feeling of positivity in the air. People were willing to embrace any ideas and see where they led...The album title's slightly high-flown, isn't it? As is the quote from the Tempest on the back. It was a very flowery time in all sorts of ways. Me and Chris shared a flat with a guy called Terry Quirk who was a very talented artist and he came up with this beautiful, florid cover that we adored. We didn't notice that the word odyssey was spelt wrongly, to our eternal embarrassment. For years I used to say, 'Oh that was intentional. It was a play on the word ode.' But I'm afraid it wasn't...Chris and I were very excited about what was going on. I suppose we could afford to be excited because we still had a decent income. Even while we were recording, some of the band were feeling disaffected and restless. Paul was about to get married and I remember him saying just after we finished the album: 'Look guys I'm gong to have to move on, I've got no money.' And Colin said, 'Well, I feel the same.' ... It took twelve – fifteen years for 'O&O' to finally start to gather momentum, and start to pick up sales. It now sells more, year in, year out, than it ever did when it was first released! I’m really proud of the fact that it’s appeared in so many different all-time top 100 charts, and knocked out that so many contemporary artists continue to name it as their favourite album ... Each song is just sparked by a different thing, like 'A Butcher’s Tale', which is my favorite track on the album. Incidentally there was a typo in the original title of that, It should have been 'Butcher’s Tale on the Western Front 1916, not 1914.' Chris just read a giant history of WWI, and that song came from him reading that. In the same day you can feel something dark and go through any mood really. 'Hung Up On A Dream' expresses that back and forth, but it’s also saying that that was the most fantastic experience I ever had...Chris and I desperately wanted to do an album and produce it ourselves before we broke up. We weren’t happy with the way we were being produced. It created a unity about the album and gave it it’s own stamp. We recorded it quite quickly, in actual studio hours that is. Because we were free to pursue our own ideas, it was an individual result...Drugs had no role at all. I’ve never been interested in doing drugs. It seemed like a very crude way of getting an effect. I’ve always loved jazz and classical music as well. I was always very aware of Charlie Parker saying that mind-altering substances never made you play better. And with his struggles I took that to heart. That’s my personal take on it. People are free to do what they want... The music came out of what it came out of. It didn’t come out of drugs. We don’t have any drug references."


White considers: "I think the word psychedelic is confused with experimental. None of us ever took any drugs. In fact the only person who smoked cigarettes was the drummer. I just think the ideas were pouring out of us anyway...All the songs are little stories but they're not about anyone specific - except Friends of Mine, which has a list of friends of ours chanted in the background, most of whom are dead or separated now. Beechwood Park is a real place. My father owned a general store in Hertfordshire and he used to deliver to a private girls' school called Beechwood Park. I remember driving round there and seeing steam rising off the road in the summer after rain...There were no fights or anything like that. It was a matter of financial survival. And a breaking of hope. If you've got excitement and hope then you can survive but not when two things come together like that: discouragement and financial problems. We were disappointed when it didn't take off and it was only Al Kooper in America who forced CBS to put it out. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914) was the first track the Americans put out as a single, which totally surprised us. I think it was to do with the Vietnam war but it wasn't written as an allegory."


Grady remembers:   "In those days the session would be three hours and that was it; you had to shut down for lunch. It's not like today where you can sit in the studio for hours, being creative...Morale did suffer, to the point where it became obvious that we were going to split up, which was sad. I think if we had carried on, we would have weathered the storm. But there you go...We have a lot to thank dear old Al Kooper for. Time of the Season became a hit in the backwoods of America - Boise, Idaho, I think - and it got on the radio there and it spread and spread until eventually it became number one. Sadly it was too late."

Blunstone says:   "People remember things differently. I was very excited, and at the end of the album, I did genuinely think that this was the best we could do. We were all very disappointed when the single [Care of Cell 44, 1967] didn't make an impact on the charts. I feel that everyone lost heart but I know Rod thinks it was particularly me and the other non-writers. We didn't have a manager, an agent or a producer so we felt a bit rudderless ... I don’t remember 'Odessey and Oracle' having any sort of overall concept.  As I remember, 'Odessey and Oracle' did get some good reviews in the U.K.  But it didn’t get a lot of airplay and certainly wasn’t a commercial success.  After a few years, without any promotion or marketing it just started selling and still does.  I think most of the energy with regard to Zombie releases comes from Rod Argent and Chris White."

'Odessey and Oracle' only charted at number ninety-five in the US; but has gone on to be a treasured artifact of the psychedelic era.  






www.thezombiesmusic.com











'Time Of The Season'  took more than a year to catch on with the public.  It made it to number forty-three in Australia, three in the US, and number one in Canada.  By that point, the group had disbanded.  





It's the time of the season
When the love runs high
In this time, give it to me easy
And let me try
With pleasured hands
To take you and the sun to
Promised lands
To show you every one
It's the time of the season for loving
What's your name?
(What's your name?)
Who's your daddy?
(Who's your daddy? He rich?)
Is he rich like me?
Has he taken
(Has he taken)
Any time
(Any time to show)
To show you what you need to live?
Tell it to me slowly
Tell you what?
I really want to know
It's the time of the season for loving
What's your name?
(What's your name?)
Who's your daddy?
(Who's your daddy? He rich?)
Is he rich like me?
Has he taken
(Has he taken)
Any time
(Any time to show)
To show you what you need to live?
Tell it to me slowly
Tell you what?
I really want to know
It's the time of the season for loving










'Odessey and Oracle' 
full album:


Side A
1. "Care of Cell 44" Rod Argent 3:57
2. "A Rose for Emily" Argent 2:19
3. "Maybe After He's Gone" Chris White 2:34
4. "Beechwood Park" White 2:44
5. "Brief Candles" White 3:30
6. "Hung Up on a Dream" Argent 3:02
Side B
7. "Changes" White 3:20
8. "I Want Her, She Wants Me" Argent 2:53
9. "This Will Be Our Year" White 2:08
10. "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)" White 2:48
11. "Friends of Mine" White 2:18
12. "Time of the Season" Argent 3:34


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