The psychedelic era was chock-full-o-cool album covers. The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle is one of those cult records that even cultists like me missed out on. Other than the hit single Time of the Season, the LP vanished without a trace at the time of its release. Columbia Records grudgingly released it and the band broke up not long after it hit record shops. Not exactly a recipe for success.
Although not a success at the time, Odessey & Oracle is now considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Its delicate, immaculately-crafted pop proved hugely influential on the next five decades of music.
Part of its legend is the cover, a painting done by Terry Quirk, a friend of Zombies bassist Chris White. Although classic in its own right and inarguably gorgeous, the cover illustration features a noticeable gaffe: Odyssey is misspelled “Odessey.” At the time, several of the Zombies maintained the misspelling was intentional, but in recent years, the band admitted it was a mistake they caught by the time the record had gone to print.
Dang. I hoped it was a pun; now that I think of it, Homer’s Odyssey was an ode of sorts.
The music is lush and gorgeous with Beach Boys-style harmonies. That’s right, it’s another album influenced by Pet Sounds. Rod Argent’s keyboards place the music in the early prog tradition and it sounds quite a bit like early Genesis and 10cc at points. Good stuff. Here’s the LP via ye olde YouTube: