Friday, April 18, 2008

A forty year odessey

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest sound recordings ever.

The Zombies' album Odessey & Oracle came out the same month as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the title was misspelled because the graphic designer didn't spellcheck the cover art. The Zombies had already split up before O&O came out, and the album was dead and buried on both sides of the Atlantic before "Time Of The Season" became a surprise smash hit in the U.S. in 1969.

After the Zombies turned down offers to reform and tour the U.S. after "Time Of The Season" hit, some promoters assembled bands of bogus Zombies that toured the country to cash in on the song's success. Even though "Time Of the Season" stayed in heavy rotation on oldies radio, its original album was out of print and nearly impossible to find before it was reissued on CD (by Rhino) in 1988.

From my observations, it seems like most Odessey obsessives are people like me who were too young to pick up on the album when it came out. When I saw a Rod Argent & Colin Blunstone reunion show at SF's Great American Music Hall, Argent was astounded to be playing for an audience of young fans who knew all the words to songs that were written before most of them were born. (At one point, Rod asked "Are you all here for someone else?"). When they first reformed, Rod and Colin played mostly the hits (including Argent songs) with two or three Odessey & Oracle tunes, but for their 40th Anniversary tour they're playing the entire album in sequence.

I was going to mark the anniversary by assembling a mixtape of covers of songs from Odessey & Oracle, and found multiple covers of "Care Of Cell 44" and "This Will Be Our Year", but not many covers of the other songs.

Here are the results. Eight songs with three covers of "Care Of Cell 44" (by Elliott Smith, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, and the Grey Race), three covers of "This Will Be Our Year" (by the Beautiful South, Pablo, and Chris von Sneidern), a Zombies demo of "This Will Be Our Year", and R. Stevie's (actually not that great) cover of "Time Of The Season".

Once find the Pop Llama Zombies tribute and Loser's Lounge comp in my stack of "various artists" discs, I can augment this with the Posies cover of "Brief Candles", the Zumpano (Carl Newman's pre-NPs band) cover of "Changes", and TMBG's cover of "Butcher's Tale".

Are there any other notable covers of Odessey & Oracle songs?


PCarino said...

This doesn't help your MP3 cause, but I saw Quasi cover "This Will Be Our Year" (with Elliott on bass) live once, and it was a highlight.

Steve said...

I saw Quasi play that song too (opening for ES), but haven't been able to find a mp3 of said performance.