Charles Earland – Odyssey (1976)

CHARLES EARLAND
ODYSSEY
Released 1976
Mercury SRM-1-1049

After the phenomenal double-LP ‘Leaving This Planet’, which featured Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson as rocket fuel, Earland continued in a similarly cosmic-jazz direction.  He made one more LP for Prestige, a live album of new material called Kharma, and then began a new phase at Mercury Records with this jazz-funk-latin-disco-rock fusion called Odyssey, which also became the name of his spaceship, I mean vehicle, for releasing this kind of thing for the next few years.  This album has never ever been issued on CD.  Meet you after the jump to continue the voyage..

A1     Intergalactic Love Song  6:16

Bass – Ron Carter
Congas, Percussion – Lawrence Killiam
Drums – Abe Speller, Howard King
Guitar – John Abercrombie, Robert Lowe
Synthesizer [Arp Odyssey] – Richard Himsvark
Synthesizer [Arp Pro-soloist, Arp String Ensemble], Electric Piano, Pedalboard [Echo-plex] – Charles Earland

A2     Sons Of The Gods  5:44

Bass – Billy Colburn
Congas – Lawrence Killiam
Drums – Abe Speller
Guitar – Jack Turner
Lead Vocals – Arthur Grant
Percussion – Hoséa Cheó Santos
Synthesizer [Arp Pro-soloist, Arp String Ensemble, Axe Arp], Organ, Clavinet – Charles Earland

A3     Cosmic Fever  8:01

Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Howard King, Norman Connors
Guitar – John Abercrombie, Robert Lowe
Synthesizer [Arp Odyssey] – Richard Himsvark
Synthesizer [Arp Pro-soloist, Arp String Ensemble], Electric Piano, Pedalboard [Echo-plex] – Charles Earland
Trumpet [Electric] – Randy Brecker
Violin – Michal Urbaniak

B1     From My Heart To Yours 3:46

Backing Vocals – Charles Earland, Gene Skinner, Robert Brooks, Vernon Brown, Jr.
Bass – Billy Coburn
Congas – Lawrence Killiam
Drums – Abe Speller
Guitar – Jack Turner
Percussion – Hoséa Cheó Santos
Synthesizer [Arp String Ensemble], Electric Piano – Charles Earland

B2     We All Live In The Jungle 3:44

Backing Vocals – Charles Earland, Gene Skinner, Robert Brooks, Vernon Brown, Jr.
Bass – Billy Coburn
Congas – Lawrence Killiam
Drums – Abe Speller
Electric Piano, Clavinet – Charles Earland
Guitar – Jack Turner
Percussion – Hoséa Cheó Santos

B3     Phire  4:07

 Backing Vocals Charles Earland, Gene Skinner, Jack Turner, Robert Brooks, Vernon Brown, Jr.
Bass – Billy Coburn
Congas – Lawrence Killiam
Drums – Abe Speller
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Jack Turner
Percussion – Hoséa Cheó Santos
Saxophone [Tenor] – Arthur Grant
Synthesizer [Arp Pro-soloist, Arp String Ensemble, Axe Arp], Electric Piano – Charles Earland

B4     Journey Of The Soul  8:53

Bass – Ron Carter
Congas, Percussion – Lawrence Killiam
Drums – Abe Speller, Howard King
Guitar – John Abercrombie, Robert Lowe
Synthesizer [Arp Odessey] – Richard Himsvark
Synthesizer [Arp Pro-soloist, Arp String Ensemble], Electric Piano, Organ, Pedalboard [Echo-plex] – Charles Earland
Trumpet [Electric] – Randy Brecker
Violin – John Blair

All compositions by Charles Earland except “Phire” by Jack Turner

Recorded and remixed at Electric Lady Studios

Published By – Betty Earland Music
Mastered At – Sterling Sound

Associate Producer – Betty Earland, Van Jay
Design – Roberto
Engineer – Jerry Solomon
Executive-Producer – Robin McBride
Mastered By – Lee Hulko
Photography By – Benno Friedman
Producer – Charles Earland

Matrix / Runout (side A runout etched): SRM-1-1049 CPA-3
Matrix / Runout (side B runout etched): SRM-1-1049 CPB-4

Transfer info: US Mercury vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

After the phenomenal double-LP ‘Leaving This Planet’, which featured Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson as rocket fuel, Earland continued in a similarly cosmic-jazz direction.  He made one more LP for Prestige, a live album of new material called Karma, and then began a new phase at Mercury Records with this jazz-funk-rock fusion called Odyssey, which also became the name of his spaceship, I mean vehicle, for releasing this kind of thing for the next few years.

This time he also has a few prominent guests, but the focus is less on soloists than a very thick group ensemble sound.  You can kind of piece together the sessions and their personnel based on the track-by-track listing above.   There sure seemed to be a lot of people hanging around the studio in revolving-door style fashion, but the whole record hangs together well under Earland’s direction.  Of course Ron Carter is there (7 degrees of Ron Carter is too easy a game, better make it 3..).  John Abercrombie on guitar on some stuff that is a bit wilder than his usual ECM label environs.  Norman Connors sneaks in an appearance on one of the tunes with a double drumkit setup, and Norman is in an similarly cosmic-jazz-funk part of the universe that I’ve been meaning to shine our telescope on for a while now (a couple posts are in the works, I promise!).  He shares those drum duties with Howard King (Gary Bartz NTU Troop, Roberta Flack, Eddie Henderson) and Abe Speller (Sonny Sharrock).  Conga player Lawrence Killiam is a veteran of Pharaoh Sanders and Lonnie Listen Smith’s groups.  Randy Brecker drops in to toot his horn for one track. John Blair lends some violin to the closing number.  Polish violinist Michał Urbaniak shows up with so much modulation on his instrument that I mistook him for a synth.  It’s too bad they didn’t include his wife Urszula Dudziak for some crazy vocalization.  Those shoes are filled by Arthur Grant of Sound Experience (“Don’t Fight The Feeling”).  His first appearance here on “Sons Of The Gods” adds a vibe that reminds a little of when Alex Ligertwood sang for Santana, with a little more urgency or maybe it’s just the “save me Jesus!” shout in the middle that gives that impression.  “We All Live In The Jungle” is lean, mean, and socially-conscious. Like 90% of the good records released in 1976, there are debts to the ubiquitous Earth Wind & Fire – if Maurice and the gang had found a way to trademark the words “fire,” “desire,” and “higher” being in the same song, they could have sued the pants off Charles Earland for the hopelessly derivative “Phire” on this album.  I’m not giving him any side-eye for it, because the record is just so comfortably enjoyable on the whole (and also, it’s the one track that he didn’t write on the album).

Odyssey is, like a fine pipe tobacco or aged whiskey, a curiously-pleasing blend of aromas and spices.  The longer instrumental tracks sometimes push at the boundaries of “out” playing without going too far out.  Multiple drummers and percussionists, layers of warm and bubbly analog synths, modulated violins and guitars, but locked to a comfortable groove so I don’t get that panicky feeling I sometimes have when listening to certain kitchen-sink cosmic apocalypse ensembles where I have to carefully pick a time and place for listening.  This is All-Purpose Cosmic Jazz-Funk.  And there’s the vocal numbers which I suppose have a slightly more commercial slant to them although I doubt you would be hearing “Sons Of The Gods” on the radio.  Earland would keep this group together as Charles Earland and Odyssey for a few years to put out a few more records like this on Mercury, which I promise to blog about before the human virus destroys the planet (so I had better hurry). Meanwhile he could simultaneously return to his more traditional jazz-organ combo sound with records on the Muse label (Smokin’, Mama Roots, Infant Eyes), where he left his rack of Arp synths at home.

Like a good apéritif, this album may leave you ready for more music.  Mixes and matches well with a variety of other styles, so the choice is yours what to play next!

Never ever issued on CD and not available on your crappy crooked streaming services, I’m bringing you this post out of my deep-seated drive for universal brother-and-sisterhood. But it’s also part of our informal SPRING FUNK DRIVE in which I am asking people to please look into your hearts and spare a dime or a dollar for your long-laboring music blogger in a world where music blogs are becoming as quaint as flip-phones.  The costs of keeping this blog viable aren’t going to drive me to sell my plasma, yet, but the domain name is up for renewal on top of the regular monthly server costs.  When I switched from the crappy crooked Blogger platform to the paid and less-fugly hosted WordPress option, I had imagined that my employment situation was going to become more steady across the next year.  It really hasn’t.  The domain-name thing reminds me that we are coming up on YEAR 9 of this idiosyncratic blog.  A demagogue might say, you are either for us or against us at this point.  Or you can be like the anonymous commenters I get and say, “who cares you jobless basement dweller.”  Or, you can click on this link and pledge a little something, a one-time donation or a monthly contribution, and I’ll write your name in glitter in the Book of Karma.

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7 Comments

  1. man,I’ll definitely support you on Patreon starting in june.I understand how expensive it must be to host that kind of blog and I appreciate what you do:)

  2. William Dennehy

    The PW is not working for me…..

    • Please read all the info in the sidebars. This problem gets reported all the time by Mac users

    • Sorry William, I was thinking back to the old blog layout. That info is no longer on the the sidebar. Are you on a Mac? You’ll need to use a third-party extraction tool like UnRAR-X. There is a link from my ‘links’ page under tools. Also, don’t copy and paste but type it the password, each and every time.

  3. Superb album, fine rip. Thank you, so very much appreciated and cheering up a rainy day here in northern England.

  4. Excellent/… 24Bit….I have one of ‘Smooths’ 320 from along time ago!

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