Chrysanthemums

Odessey and Oracle

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Song-by-song covers of entire albums are fairly rare, and rarer still are those that don't either try to rework the album into one specific style (think of George Benson's jazz-pop The Other Side of Abbey Road) or exist only to mercilessly trash the original. Despite guitarist Alan Jenkins' sarcastic amendments to the liner notes of the Zombies' original Odessey & Oracle, the back cover of which is presented here in modified form, it's clear that he and bandmates Terry Burrows and Martin Jenkins are fans of this '60s Baroque pop classic. Although the Chrysanthemums transform Rod Argent and Chris White's songs into a variety of pop styles, most of them rooted in the skewed psychedelia that's the Chrysanthemums' stock in trade, the results are respectful if not reverent. What's most interesting is the way the reworked songs reveal new facets. The original "Care of Cell 44" is so pretty that it's easy to miss how deeply strange the lyrics are. The Chrysanthemums' version, which substitutes sound effects and tape loops for the original's orchestral interludes, brings out that oddity. Elsewhere, the acid house groove of "A Rose for Emily" works much better than it has any right to, and the sneering hardcore punk setting of "The Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)" fits the horrific wartime imagery perfectly. While the ultra-chirpy "Friends of Mine" sends up the terribly twee original a bit, speeding up the tape until Burrows sounds almost like Alvin of the Chipmunks, it's still all in good fun. The closing track, a hazy, extended psychedelic jam on "Time of the Season," featuring some lengthy Hendrixian solos by Jenkins, bears little resemblance to the original other than the familiar slinky bassline, but it's otherwise a perfect recreation of the ethos of its time.

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