Albums similar to middle Beatles era, Pet Sounds and/or Odessey & Oracle
The Idle Race
The Birthday Party Released October 1968
AMG review :
"The debut album by this unjustly overlooked band is a piece of classic British psychedelia that transcends its origins. Most British bands trying to achieve a psychedelic sound in those days simply played softly and sang in a very effete and poetic manner -- the Idle Race, by contrast, play hard here and don't sound effete so much as just cheerfully trippy, a lot like the Beatles of "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever"; indeed, "End of the Road" from this album sounds like a rewrite of "Penny Lane." Jeff Lynne is the dominant personality here, as composer, guitarist, and singer, and, as one might expect given his presence, the music all has a Beatles-like quality of playfulness amid the musical invention. The single "Skeleton and the Roundabout" may be a little over-produced, but it is beguilingly innocent in its zaniness, and the softer middle section anticipates the structure of Lynne's later work with ELO. Much more indicative of his future direction are "Morning Sunshine," one of the prettiest songs to come out of the entire Birmingham music scene and displaying a languid guitar flourish that anticipates any number of ELO songs circa A New World Record, and "The Lady Who Said She Could Fly," an orchestrated Beatlesque jewel that sounds like a lost ELO track. As demonstrated here, the Idle Race weren't quite as powerful a band as their rivals the Move -- who also loved to cover American soul and folk-rock and thus had a wider variety to their sound -- but this album is steeped in beautiful melodies and even prettier embellishments in the singing and playing, yet never loses sight of its rock & roll underpinnings. Once in a while, as in "On with the Show," the sound effects are a little more prominent than one would like, and there's a certain music hall ambience to a few songs (such as "Lucky Man") that is somewhat distracting -- but those two numbers are followed by the joyous and pounding "Pie in the Sky," so it all balances out and, overall, this album is very solid and a great deal of fun, as well as full of little surprises and signposts pointing toward Lynne's future."
The Neon Philharmonic
The Moth Confesses
AMG review :
"A timepiece in the less impressive sense of the term, seeking to fuse the conceptual ambition and sophisticated production of Pet Sounds and Song Cycle with MOR pop. It doesn't work that well, particularly since songwriter Tupper Saussy is clearly more well-versed in (and comfortable with) MOR pop. The collision of grandiose romantic songs, Rococo string arrangements, and a touch of psychedelic experimentation is so bizarre that it exerts a strange fascination, but it doesn't make for durable music."
Forever Changes Released November 1967
AMG review :
"Love's Forever Changes made only a minor dent on the charts when it was first released in 1967, but years later it became recognized as one of the finest and most haunting albums to come out of the Summer of Love, which doubtless has as much to do with the disc's themes and tone as the music, beautiful as it is. Sharp electric guitars dominated most of Love's first two albums, and they make occasional appearances here on tunes like "A House Is Not a Motel" and "Live and Let Live," but most of Forever Changes is built around interwoven acoustic guitar textures and subtle orchestrations, with strings and horns both reinforcing and punctuating the melodies. The punky edge of Love's early work gave way to a more gentle, contemplative, and organic sound on Forever Changes, but while Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean wrote some of their most enduring songs for the album, the lovely melodies and inspired arrangements can't disguise an air of malaise that permeates the sessions. A certain amount of this reflects the angst of a group undergoing some severe internal strife, but Forever Changes is also an album that heralds the last days of a golden age and anticipates the growing ugliness that would dominate the counterculture in 1968 and 1969; images of violence and war haunt "A House Is Not a Motel," the street scenes of "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hillsdale" reflects a jaded mindset that flower power could not ease, the twin specters of race and international strife rise to the surface of "The Red Telephone," romance becomes cynicism in "Bummer in the Summer," the promise of the psychedelic experience decays into hard drug abuse in "Live and Let Live," and even gentle numbers like "Andmoreagain" and "Old Man" sound elegiac, as if the ghosts of Chicago and Altamont were visible over the horizon as Love looked back to brief moments of warmth. Forever Changes is inarguably Love's masterpiece and an album of enduring beauty, but it's also one of the few major works of its era that saw the dark clouds looming on the cultural horizon, and the result was music that was as prescient as it was compelling."
Chad & Jeremy
The Ark Released September 27, 1968
Chad and Jeremy's "The Ark" was their most accomplished album. Following the less polished (but more brilliant) Of Cabbages and Kings, they combined the "concept album" approach of Cabbages with more diverse, commercial and lyrical selections. Still the title track "The Ark" has all the bite and satire of their finest works and the long version of "Painted Dayglow Smile" (contained on this album) is stunning. The album is beautifully orchestrated and has great sound quality.
It's a real mindboggler as to why this album hasn't gotten the recognition it so duly deserves.It would have done better I'm sure,if Columbia records had only promoted it properly.
A true psychedelic lost classic and worthy contemporary of both "pepper" and "pet sounds",if you're anything like me it'll stay in your cd player for ages.