ODESSEY & ORACLE was recorded principally at Abbey Road Studios a few months after The Beatles had recorded SGT. PEPPER'S there. This is the 2004 reissue with plenty of excellent bonus tracks. The popular reception of the album is a testament to the spontaneously anachronistic quality of psychedelic pop. As Greg Russo explains in his liner notes, The Zombies were having difficulty making money on tour. After a disastrous trip to the Far East, the band -- really the songwriters, keyboard player Rod Argent and bass player Chris White -- decided to make one more go of it in the studio. They signed with CBS Records, and CBS put up the money to record at Abbey Road. Once the session work was done and the mixes made, Clive Davis, head of CBS, was not much impressed, an opinion that was confirmed when the first two singles released in 1967, "Friends of Mine" (not the best choice) and "Care of Cell 44" (much better) both tanked, followed by the generally ignored release of the album in April 1968. The label then basically shelved ODESSEY & ORACLE. By this time most of The Zombies had gone out and found regular day jobs. Chasing after the Zeitgeist, Rod Argent was already working on rebuilding the band, moving a new Zombies (which would become Argent) in, as Russo says, "a progressive, heavier" direction. Then something bizarre happened. A U.S. radio station in the Midwest started playing "Time of the Season" at the end of 1968/beginning of '69, and by March it was a smash hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Cashbox chart. By March of 1969 the first blush of psychedelia had already faded. Nixon was in the White House and his secret saturation bombing of Cambodia was underway. Nineteen-Sixty-Nine and 1970 -- with Woodstock and Altamont, EASY RIDER and BUTCH CASSIDY, the Weather Underground and Kent State -- are the end of the '60s dream. The Zombies psychedelic pop from the Summer of Love must have seemed simultaneously dated and fresh. Instantaneous nostalgia.
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