Odessey and Oracle
"Time of the Season," the only hit from this wondrous and revelatory album, was recorded after the members of the Zombies agreed to break up. "We were all very testy at that time," guitarist Chris White recalled in the notes to the anthology Zombie Heaven. "We knew we were going to break up, so it was, 'Let's get this thing finished, let's get out of here.'"
All recall the studio environment as being tense, with the song's composer, keyboardist Rod Argent, imperiously instructing singer Colin Blunstone how to deliver the melody. Eventually they finished "Time of the Season," and walked away expecting little from it. The song was released as a single in 1969, nearly a year after the band said farewell, and it became a massive hit in the U.S. The success led some curious seekers to the album, where they encountered one of the most florid and ambitious song cycles of the rock era. From a distance, Odessey and Oracle can sound like an unretouched photo from the age of flower power. But it's deeper than that, and more challenging. While some tracks move in a drifty Donovan-ish head-in-the-clouds way, others position psychedelic colors—coming from such instruments as the aptly named mellotron keyboard—within crisp, rock-rhythm contexts. The best of these are "Hung Up on a Dream" and "Changes," artifacts from a long-ago season when trippy experiments weren't all that far from what lit up the airwaves.
Released: 1968, Columbia (Reissued 2004, with bonus tracks, Fuel 2000)
Key Tracks: "Time of the Season," "Hung Up on a Dream," "Friends of Mine," "Changes"
Catalog Choice: Zombie Heaven
Next Stop: Pink Floyd: Meddle
After That: Donovan: Sunshine Superman
Book Page: 889