The Wizard Reviews: Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac
Album: Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac
Year Released: 1967
Aquarius – The Lover of Life
Pisces – The Peace Piper
Virgo – The Perpetual Perfectionist
When you see an album cover as psychedelic as this one, with a back cover that suggests the album “must be played in the dark”, you know you‘re in for a treat. As one of the first discoveries on my journey into the obscurities of psychedelic rock, this album has always stuck a personal chord with me. Although this album’s genre could hardly be considered rock, it is one hundred percent psychedelic, in the sense that it does everything else right. There are some songs that do feature trippy background guitars, but tracks include many other exotic instruments. Eastern percussion instruments, sitars, flutes, a moog and theremin, perfectly replace the traditional elements of rock and roll and are accompanied by beautifully chilling spoken word poetry.
The songs on this album were written and conducted by Saint John’s very own Mort Garson. The lyrics, more akin to poems are perfect and at clear. Although certain lines may seem cheesy to some, they truly capture the characters in the Zodiac mythology perfectly. Other lines are noticeably deep, and very well thought out, and very quotable. The Zodiac is a very early and overlooked concept album. Many credit the first concept album to The Who, or to Pink Floyd, where in fact it may have been the Zodiac all along! Groovy cosmic sounds are within, played by none other than The Wecking Crew, who were a group of America’s best studio musicians that came together to produce albums and sounds for the biggest hitmakers of the 1960’s. Their resume included hit names like The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, The Mama’s and Papa’s, The Byrds, and many more.
A side project of sorts, The Zodiac began when Elektra Records hired the Wrecking Crew in 1967, who originally intended to cash in on the new psychedelic generation of youth emerging in the American mainstream. In my eyes, however, this album goes much farther than a simple cash grab. This album is an outstanding psychedelic classic, both performed and recorded especially well. It‘s surprising that this album was as under-the-radar as it was and how quickly it was put into discount bins. Even in 1967, the market of this type of album was still a very niche market, even still I can imagine young hippy youth “expanding” their minds to this album in some dark room on a summer night. I really love this album, and although it is often seen as a laughable psychploitation record, it certainly deserves more praise in the psychedelic record collecting circles. I might take the lyrics too seriously, but this album is a very calming and relaxing experience that I recommend to anyone in the mood for a dreamy late night psychedelic experience, or to those who just want to reflect and listen closely to something uniquely beautiful.
Poetic with many complex layers of sound, The Zodiac will never disappoint, and The Wizard is confident that it will hold up to any psychedelic record in your collection – – – A must buy!
Cohen O’Connor AKA “The Wizard” is a psychedelic-progressive rock record collector who calls Saint John his home, when he’s not at home spinning rare wax, or digging the local bins for that one obscure album you Dad had in the mid 70’s he’s on his radio program “The Technicolor Dream Show” playing rare tracks from the lost era of flower children and renegade teens. Music is his passion, and so is writing for you! Can you dig it? The Wizard can…