If you are a deep Zombies fan chances are you have the wonderful four CD box set called Zombie Heaven. At the time of its release this set was applauded by most as it was a very overdue collection for fans. Compiling B-sides, A-sides, studio outtakes, demos and radio broadcasts all in one place for the first time, the set was pretty much an instant classic. And, it will remain so until the time when we get a version that is remastered or, better still, delivered to us in a higher resolution format than the simple compact disc (ie Blu-ray).
That said, I have been enjoying a number of the Record Store Day special editions which the band has been putting out over the years, mostly through the Varese Sarabande label. Generally these have been pretty good sounding affairs, likely sourced from digital masters as far as I can tell. And for the most part they sound like a bit of a step up from the CD in terms of fidelity.
Of course in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder how these new LPs might sound if they were crafted from original master tapes…
But that is neither here nor there. Coming back to earth from dreamland, on deck now for this review is the new single disc collection issued on Record Store Day called Oddities & Extras. This is a fine compilation including rare singles and songs that only appeared in the UK on certain albums back in the day. Previously it was included in a five disc boxed set called The Complete Studio Recordings.
I think you do and here’s why: one of the downsides of the 70-plus minute capacity on a standard compact disc is that the music tends to blur after a while. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a barrage of two-minute pop songs such as crafted by the zombies especially in the early days. Don’t get me wrong, they are wonderful and essential to have if you’re a completist fan (as I am!). But as a listening experience, sometimes a more focused vinyl collection can be more immediate and rewarding.
And this is where the new Record Store Day edition of Oddities & Extras comes in to play: as a single LP, it is a great listen with just enough songs to give you that dose of Zombies joy that you may need without playing all the obvious hits. Yet, its not too much!
Producer Andrew Sandoval has done a great job curating this collection and he provides detailed liner notes explaining why the songs included are significant and essential. Some of my favorites here are “Just Out Of Reach” (which appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Bunny Lake Is Missing),
Also, as somebody commented on one of the Facebook music forums, Oddities & Extras is remarkable because it plays end-to-end like a very strong Zombies album, not just a collection of cast off remainders. And there in lies the rub and the joy of being a Zombies fan… There is so much great material!
Also, I love the cover concept which playfully references the deleted alternate U.S. second cover of the group’s classic Odessey & Oracle.
So should you buy it? I would… I did! And it will hold you on over until we get that all-analog or high quality Plangent Process restored version of all this archival material.
That indeed would be a little bit of heaven!