The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle: #375 of best 1,000 albums ever!

The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

So why is The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

It’s the mark of a great and enduring album when you’re well aware that there are great songs and it’s a consistently strong listen, but the particular tracks that you’re most drawn to change and evolve over time.

With The Zombies and Odessey and Oracle, “Time of the Season” is easily the band’s best known song, and for good reason. Listening to it with fresh ears is a pleasure: it’s striking and wonderful and yet a little bit mysterious and psychedelic and even a tiny bit spooky at the same time. And the songwriting, construction, and production are just exquisite.

On Spotify as of this writing, “Time of the Season” has been played around 221 million times. However, when I revisit Odessey and Oracle these days, it’s the sweet and delicate and drop dead gorgeous “A Rose for Emily” – with a relatively modest six million views (the fifth most “popular” song on the album) – that I’m most drawn to.

“A Rose for Emily” runs just over two minutes and it’s largely a singer-songwriter number, essentially Colin Blunstone singing with accompaniment from a piano and incredible backing vocals from the band. And it’s a perfect song.

I’ve mentioned before that it often takes me being really into a song to pay close attention to the lyrics. With “A Rose for Emily,” I’m become taken with its lovely yet melancholy tale of a woman who is in the proximity of those who have love in her life but never any of her own.

Her roses are fading now
She keeps her pride somehow
That’s all she has protecting her from pain

The title of the song and lyrics are inspired by a short story of the same name, written by William Faulkner in 1930. Not the stuff of an ordinary band here, I’d say.

“Maybe After He’s Gone” has a similar vibe with and stands up to the best songs from The Beatles circa Revolver and Rubber Soul – which for me is the highest praise, indeed.

Pop culture stuff that has something to do with The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle

I’m a super fan of the TV show, Mad Men (also see: “The Best 100 TV Shows Ever”). So of course, The Zombies makes me think about Season 5’s “Lady Lazarus,” where the crack team at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is trying to find a song that’s “like The Beatels” that they can license for an ad campaign.

Michael Ginsburg (Ben Feldman) throws out some ideas: “Herman’s Hermits, Chad & Jeremy, The Merseybeats, The Zombies.”

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) isn’t sure about The Zombies because it’s gotta be right. But he cuts Ginsburg off and says he’ll ask Megan (Jessica Paré) – his much younger, second wife.

At the end of the episode, Megan famously hands an album to Don before leaving the apartment, with the idea that listening to it will help him to stay hip with the rapidly changing times and youth culture. It’s The Beatles’ brilliant Revolver, but Megan probably errs by suggesting that Don “start with this one,” which is the final track, “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Don turns it on, sips his liquor, listens to the wildly experimental fusion of guitars and sitar music and psychedelia for a minute, and then promptly gets up, shuts off the record player, and walks out of the room.

It’s the point at which we see that the ‘60s, and the times generally, are starting to pass old Don Draper by.

Some stats & info about The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? British Bands, British Invasion, Rock Music, Psychedelic Pop, Pop Music
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #243
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Odessey and Oracle released? 1968
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #375 out of 1,000

The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

It’s the time of the season for loving.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.