Friday, January 1, 2016

The Zombies: This Will Be Our Year

Recorded in 1967, “Odessey and Oracle” was released in 1968 months after The Zombies had disbanded. The tracks were recorded on four-track Studer tape machine at Abbey Road Studios and then mixed to mono; however, the band was informed by CBS that they needed a stereo mix. Keyboardist Rod Argent and guitarist Paul Atkinson pooled their financial resources and remixed the original four-tracks into a stereo mix. This new mix was finished 48 years ago today – January 1, 1968.

By this time, The Zombies were buried – and would later reanimate in the 1990s. Lead vocalist Colin Blunstone went onto a solo career: first billed as Neil McArthur and then later under his own name. Rod Argent and Paul Atkinson formed the band “Argent.” Bassist Chris White, the only non original member of The Zombies, perfected his craft as a songwriter and producer for both Blunstone and Argent. Drummer Hugh Grundy transitioned to being record label A&R man.

The album was released on Date Records (a subsidiary label of CBS) in the US in June 1968; however, it’s first single from the forthcoming LP was released in late 1967 on Columbia. All in all, seven US singles were issued from the album. Only one charted, and that was second release of “Time of the Season” – the fifth of the seven US singles. “Time of the Season” was their highest charting single in Canada and their second highest charting single in the US – peaking at #3. “She’s Not There” from 1964 was their only US #1. None of the singles charted in the UK.

The second single, “This will be our Year,” was only issued as a radio station promo and like most of the others, it failed to generate any interest from radio or otherwise. It is a fitting song for us as it is New Year’s Day. The year 1968 was not The Zombies year as they had called it quits in December 1967 and none of their releases charted. The re-release of “Time of the Season” made 1969 a much better year for this former cohort of musicians.

“This will be our Year” is a great tune that has been covered by a number of artists including the Foo Fighters. I really like the double tracking of Colin Blunstone’s vocals on this cut. It is very Beatlesque and for good reason – they used the same tape deck that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was recorded.

Re-channeled Original Mono Mix

The mono mix of the song has horns that were not overdubbed onto the four track machine but directly to the mono mix by producer Ken Jones. This song was re-channeled for stereo as is – horns and all. The All Music Guide compares it to “Penny Lane.”

Alternate True Stereo Version

There is an alternate true stereo mix without the horns. It’s too bad the horns were not put on the four-track machine as this mix with the horns would have been a killer release.

Outside of “Time of the Season,” “Odessey and Oracle” was not a commercial success. It was, however, considered a critical masterpiece. As your New Year’s gift, we have provided both versions of “This will be our Year.” I hope it will be yours as well.

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