The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle (1968)

One of the dozen or so truly indispensable albums of the late 60s UK psychedelic era, and one that received a rather undignified reception -- ignored and unsuccessful at the time, generating disharmony that led to the band's break-up, a delayed release after the band was no more, and belated recognition only after fluke single "Time Of The Season" gained popularity long after the band's demise.  Not to mention a misspelled title right there on the cover.  But these days it's rightfully recognized as a true classic.

After a number of more traditional British Invasion singles (i.e. "She's Not There," "Tell Her No") highlighted set apart by Colin Blunstone's silky vocals and Rod Argent's distinctive keyboards, the band pushed the envelope with Odessey, a blend of Sgt. Pepper's expansive sonic palate and Pet Sounds' harmonic pop.  While not psychedelic in the trippy sense of the word (aside from the ornate "Hung Up On A Dream" and maybe "Time of the Season"), the album set the blueprint for future baroque pop bands from (later period) XTC to many of the Elephant 6 artists -- imaginative, almost classical music-inspired melodies, dense orchestration with more reliance on piano and other instrumentation than the basic guitar-bass-drums set-up, and a mellow, artful vibe more conducive to attentive, seated listening than rocking out.

They hit on this intricate sound with opening tracks "Care of Cell 44" and "A Rose for Emily," gorgeous pop tunes that veer starkly from guitar driven rock & roll.  "Brief Candles" is a lovely ballad with a melodic chorus and great harmonies, a seeming model that the Moody Blues would come to follow.  The afore-referenced "Dream" is an album stand-out, a psychedelic masterpiece, while "Changes" shows off the band's sweet harmonies.  "Friends of Mine" is the closest the album comes to the band's earlier British Invasion pop sound, and it's a joyful little ditty.  The album closes with "Season," which suffers from decades of FM radio overplay and a sound that doesn't necessarily fit in with the rest of the album, but heard on its own merits, c'mon, it's undeniably a great slice of late 60s pop.

Here's a cute lyric video for "A Rose For Emily":
And here's a reunited Zombies with a recent live take on "Hung Up On A Dream":