Sunday, January 23, 2011

Odyssey - Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love

So, I almost never loan out any of my LP's. But, recently I made an exception for the fine folks at Light In The Attic records. Turns out they are gathering tracks for a compilation of stuff released on the MoWest label. MoWest was a subsidiary of Motown that was designed to cover the West coast and be based in Los Angeles. The LITA folks had been looking for quite a while for a clean copy of the Odyssey LP. Not the Odyssey disco group from the New York area, but the hippie funk rock group from California. They were around a few years before the New York group. It's a seriously hard LP to get in clean shape with a decent cover. It's a dark brown cover and most copies have severe ring wear, or just heavy fading. I actually have a strange copy of this record, probably the cleanest copy I've ever seen. The nice cats at Light In The Attic Records got my info from my homie Jon Blunck. I'm still trying to figure out how he even knew I had this particular LP, as we never play this kind of stuff at Sweaterfunk. The chances of him hearing me play this are slim to none. But, somehow he suggested they give me a call. My response to both Jon and the LITA people was a resounding no. There's was no way I could find this LP. I had no idea where it was, haven't seen it for months, maybe years, and don't have anything in my collection in ANY kind of order. So, I answered 'not likely' and didn't put any more thought into it.

Well, it just so happened that during Xmas time my brother Andy was in town. He was over at my place and noticed some Coleman Hawkins records I had pulled aside for him. He had given me these records many years ago, and I promised I would give them back at last years Xmas gathering. We got down on our knees are flipped thru the whole pile looking for more Coleman Hawkins. Once I pulled aside a bunch of stuff he wanted I started finding a bunch of things I was looking for in the surrounding records. A few things I wasn't looking for, but was cool to see again. And, a few things I HAD been looking for. Well, it just so happened that I found my copy of this Odyssey LP. Ultimately I sent it to the LITA folks and it was confirmed that it was the cleanest copy they had all seen. My copy of this LP is a bit strange. It's actually a dutch issue of the LP and has that layer of gloss only on the front cover. This issue is surprisingly put out by Rare Earth Records which of course is another Motown subsidiary. The fact is has this protective layer of plastic built into the cover has protected it well over the years.
So, the moral of the story...flip through your own shit! You may have a goldmine right under your nose. Funny how if they weren't my records in that pile I would have gone through them in a heartbeat.

Cool, so now I get to see my copy on the cover of LITA's new compilation. And, they were nice enough to grace me with a few of their fine releases. So we'll give them a big shout and plug when this comp comes out and probably feature their future releases as well. Really nice folks over there and really quality releases on that label.

So, this tune by Odyssey was probably thee very first hippie soul or folk funk tune that I ever fell deeply in love with. It's simply a majestic and charismatic tune. So calm and gentle yet deep, funky and soulful. I think the first format I had this in was on 45. I had looped the first two or three measures and just played them over and over again. Still its a solid tune as a whole, delicious from start to finish. To me, this is what hippie soul and folk funk is all about. It's about something more seductive then just out right hard funk. It's about a positive or introspective message. It's tinged with just a hint of psychedelic flavor and often riding on the cusp of an acid trip. It's about the merge and harmony between rock and soul. A perfect hybrid developed and groomed right from the waves of late 60's and mid 70's AM radio. Bands Like Odyssey had a mixed race cast of characters and this particular outfit was comprised of several session players. Some of the singers went on to providing backing vocals for Ambrosia and Steely Dan. Odyssey didn't record anymore and this was their only release. Aside from having a 45 released of 'Our Lives..' this great group never hit the charts or made much of a name for themselves. However, in the rare groove and folk funk circuit this LP and this group are well loved. You can't get this LP for less than $150-200 these days and once this LITA comp drops.. expect that to hike the price up a bit. Some like this LP through and through, and at times I'm one of them. Most would agree that the stand out tracks are this one, and 'Battened Ships'. 'Ships' is a bit more of a modern groover with a big brass arrangement that almost sounds salsa inspired. It's definitely a dancer where as 'Our Lives...' is just mellow madness. Perhaps I'll put up 'Ships' when the compilation comes out, but I have a feeling there's going to be many good tracks to choose from.

For many of you familiar with this blog, you'll be well aware that I often meander in the categories section of things quite a bit. I assure you there is purpose behind my standings on this subject. In speaking about Odyssey over the last few weeks, many don't seem to know where to really put a group like Odyssey. Either people thought they were a rock group or a soul group. But, that just doesn't quite encapsulate their true sound. So, Hippie Soul or Folk Funk as a category opens up opportunity to explore more artist like this. Or, the desire to find more that sound like this. My Argument: If you ever handed me a record and I didn't know it..and you said it's perfect Hippie Soul..I'd ultimately know exactly what you meant and would buy it without listening to it. How do you know if you're a folk funk group? Well, like Odyssey, you're probably recording with choir like backing vocals and a vibes solo to boot. Then you go out to beach and shoot a trippy LP cover photo? The answer is...for crying out loud!  You're a funkin' hippie group!   I rest my case.

Odyssey - Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love


  1. thanks for your help w/ the project soundboutique...
    much appreciated!

  2. Cheers, keep me posted as when it will be out! We'll plug it here!
    Thanks SB