Odessa - Polydor 1969
The band was still a 5-piece band at the beginning of the recordings, but before the release of the album in 1969, guitarist Vince Melouney had left the group.
Though not a direct concept album there are themes about the ship Odessa that runs though the songs. Apart from some long, mostly instrumental orchestral pieces, the music is not really that different from the group's previous releases.
To be regarded as a real classic I find the album too uneven, with too many average songs. There are of course a lot songs, too, that ranks with the very best of their early works. I have always liked their music best without the big arrangements that often burdened good songs too much.
Simple songs with great melodies like, "Sudddenly", "You'll Never See My Face Again" and "I Laugh in Your Face" are still my favourites. I also used to like "Marley Purt Drive", but it seems the songs hasn't aged that well. Among the classic ballads "Lamplight" is outstanding, and "Melody Fair" and "First of May" are both great songs.
The 3 CD version contains both mono and stereo versions of the original album, and the third CD contains some very interesting alternate versions along with some previously unreleased songs. Many of these are almost as good as the well-known versions, and a few maybe even better; I especially like the alternate mix of "You'll Never See My Face Again". The song "Barbara Came to Stay", is the same tune as "Edison", with different lyrics, and also one of the great additions. Great reproduction of the original cover and a fine informative booklet too.