Sunday, January 13, 2008

Odyssey - s/t


I'm sure we’ve all heard of the group Odyssey, right? If so, you might be thinking of the mid-seventies, New York based trio comprised of two sisters sporting cornrows and a male singer that brought us such hits as "Native New Yorker" and "Don't Tell Me, Tell Her" and you’d be correct.

However, for most rare groove fans and soul aficionados, another musical entity of the same name might come to mind. A small band out of California that hit the scene a few years earlier churning out classic movers like "Our Lives Are Shaped by What We Love" and “Battened Ships”.

Odyssey was largely made up of session musicians and featured Royce Jones (lead vocal) who would later go on to sing lead and backing vocals for Steely Dan and Ambrosia), Billy Pierce (lead vocal), Kathleen Warren (Piano, Fender Rhodes, Vibes, & Vocals), Warner Schwebke (Fender & String Bass), Don Peake (Acoustic & Electric Guitar), Don Dacus (acoustic, electric & slide guitar) and Gene Pello (drums) whose signature sound can be heard on countless Motown hits by the likes of the Jackson 5, Diana Ross & Smokey Robinson.

The band's self-titled lp was released back in 1972 on the MoWest label; a subsidiary of Motown handled by the company's West Coast offices before they completely shifted operations from Detroit to Los Angeles. While not a commercial success in its day; over the passing years, “Odyssey” has become a highly sought after piece by DJs and collectors alike.

While some may argue that not all the cuts from Odyssey would fit into the Soul category, there are more than a few standouts among the bunch that pick up the slack for the rest.

Dig for yourself!!

Featured cut: "Battened Ships"
In 1998, the album was officially reissued and released on CD for the first time as part of the Motown/Polygram Free Soul series. It's hard, but a few copies can still be found sprinkled around the net.
On the other hand, if you're prepared to lay out some serious money ($55-$200+) and prefer an original vinyl copy, you can check ebay, GEMM or NetSoundsMusic.


Bob said...

I have been looking for this Odyssey album/CD for over 35 years. Royce gave me the vinyl in 1972. I met Royce in 1968 at the Attice in Costa Mesa, California. Judy, Bonnie and Paula introduced me to him. I followed Royce and his band "Something Else" to Itchey Foot Mose in El Sereno (Alhambra). Every Tuesday-Saturday I drove up from Anaheim to see Royce and the girls who introduced me to him and the band. Royce is still doing it with The Stonebridge Band. Royce and I are still best friends all these 40 years later. ANyone know how I can get a copy of the 1998 re-release CD? Please advise.

Bob Savanich

pmcg said...

My Cousin Robert James wrote most of the songs and played on some of the cuts for this album. I was at some of the recording sessions. I played this album endlessly and still drag it out every once in a while. Royce has some great vocal chops! - Peter McGovern

pmcg said...

My Cousin, Robert James, wrote most of the songs on this album and I had the pleasure of being present for some of the sessions. I think Bob played flute on at least one of the songs as well. Royce has some great vocal chops! - Peter McGovern

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