This year, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the recording of The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, a record virtually ignored when it was released, yet now considered a classic of the late ‘60s. The Zombies had seen hit songs in the years before this album, yet they were becoming frustrated by the time of this recording and decided to call it a day. While the LP’s “Time of the Season” became a hit a year later, the band had already moved on with singer Colin Blunstone pursuing solo albums and keyboardist/vocalist Rod Argent forming the harder-edged Argent. In 2000 Blunstone and Argent began touring and recording together again, eventually renaming themselves The Zombies yet again, with blessings from former members. The Zombies’ sixth album, Still Got That Hunger, came out in 2015, and the band reunited with original bassist/vocalist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy to perform Odessey and Oracle on tour – sadly, original guitarist Paul Atkinson had passed away a decade prior. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the recording of The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, Varèse Sarabande has released an anniversary edition of the album (with 7 bonus tracks), a beautiful art book – The “Odessey”: The Zombies in Words and Images – is out, and the current band and former members are heading out to play the album live for a final time.

“She’s Not There” art by Vivienne Boucherat from The “Odessy”: The Zombies in Words and Images

This year, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the recording of The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, a record virtually ignored when it was released, yet now considered a classic of the late ‘60s. The Zombies had seen hit songs in the years before this album, yet they were becoming frustrated by the time of this recording and decided to call it a day. While the LP’s “Time of the Season” became a hit a year later, the band had already moved on with singer Colin Blunstone pursuing solo albums and keyboardist/vocalist Rod Argent forming the harder-edged Argent. In 2000 Blunstone and Argent began touring and recording together again, eventually renaming themselves The Zombies yet again, with blessings from former members. The Zombies’ sixth album, Still Got That Hunger, came out in 2015, and the band reunited with original bassist/vocalist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy to perform Odessey and Oracle on tour – sadly, original guitarist Paul Atkinson had passed away a decade prior. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the recording of The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, Varèse Sarabande has released an anniversary edition of the album (with 7 bonus tracks), a beautiful art book – The “Odessey”: The Zombies in Words and Images – is out, and the current band and former members are heading out to play the album live for a final time.

I heard your first studio session, in 1964, involved a drunk engineer who’d been at a wedding?

It really did, yeah! A very fine engineer actually; we just got him on the wrong day. It was Terry Johnson. I was reading something about Glyn Johns [Tape Op #109], and he mentioned working with Terry Johnson. We loved what he did on the recording, it’s just that he was completely abusive; he was shouting and screaming at us! I know that Colin said, “If this is what being a professional musician is, I don’t want to know! This is going to be a very short career for me.” The piece of luck was that Terry passed out completely, and the four of us carried him upstairs into a London taxi and sent him home. The taxi driver saw to him somehow. He came back the next day and mixed “She’s Not There.” Gus Dudgeon did take over for the main part of the session. That was genuinely Gus’s first foray into being the prime engineer in a session!

Obviously his career went on to be spectacular.

It was. I know.

That was at Decca’s West Hampstead studios?

That was the one, yeah.

Was your first album, Begin Here, really done in a two-day session?

The first four tracks that we ever recorded were done in a one-day session. We started into the afternoon and went on until about three o’clock in the morning, as I remember. We recorded “It’s Alright With Me,” which was the first song I remember writing, “She’s Not There,” which was the second song that I’d written, “You Make Me Feel Good,” which was a Chris White song that turned out to be the B-side, and [George Gershwin’s] “Summertime.” We recorded those four tracks completely in that one session. The next day we weren’t even allowed there. We had a very autocratic record producer who didn’t want us around when he mixed, but that’s how things were done then. I remember Russ Ballard – from my second band, Argent – knew The Beatles from when they were semi-pro. He was wandering around the West End in London, and they were walking the other way down the street. They said, “Oh, hello Russ. We just recorded our first album yesterday.” They did the whole thing in one...

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