Saturday, October 17, 2009

Postage Paid: Care of Cell 44

The Zombies: Care of Cell 44


The title of this song stretches the theme just a little bit. But the lyrics are the contents of a letter a guy is writing to his significant other, who is locked up in jail. Although the gender of the jailbird is never mentioned, one assumes it's a woman, which makes this a fairly unique pop song, even for 1968. As a single, it bombed.

"Care of Cell 44" is the opening track on the Zombies' magnum opus, Odessey and Oracle. The band's two hits, "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" were several years old when the they recorded the album in 1967, and it was their final stab at making it big. Unfortunately, the album was pretty much ignored when it was released in the UK, and the band quickly broke up.

Then Al Kooper heard the album and convinced his label, Columbia, to release it stateside. "Time of the Season" was pulled from it as a single and became a huge hit in 1969.

The band (or 3/5 of it) cashed in on its surprise success by recording a follow-up album. In 1991.

Over the years, the rest of Odessey and Oracle has garnered a cult following, and now it's considered a masterpiece. With its sophisticated arrangements, beautiful melodies, and Beach Boys-like harmonies, I wholeheartedly agree.

Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs: Care of Cell #44


A few years ago, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs recorded an album of covers of some of their favorite songs from the '60s. Their version adds a number sign to the title and changes the gender of the narrator, with Susanna taking the lead.

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