Odyssey – 1980 – Hang Together
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A wicked groover from Odyssey – and a crack little album that has the trio hitting hard all the way through! The upbeat numbers are great, the ballads are warm and wonderful, and even the midtempo numbers come off perfectly – all with a rich quality that makes the album a real standout in mainstream soul at the time! There’s a few playful post-disco touches on the dancefloor tracks, yet the vibe is all soul all the way through – and the female vocals really soar with this righteous energy that has the group sounding better than ever.
Review By Derek Anderson
Not only was Odyssey’s 1977 eponymous debut album Odyssey, the group’s most successful album, it featured their biggest hit single, Native New Yorker. This was a song that would forever become synonymous with Odyssey, reaching number twelve in the US Billboard 100 and number six in the US R&B Charts. Spurred on by the success of Native New Yorker, Odyssey’s debut album Odyssey reached number 36 in the US Billboard 200 and number 15 in the US R&B Charts. A year later, came the followup, Hollywood Party Tonight. It didn’t replicate the success of Odyssey, reaching just number 123 in the US Billboard 200 and number 72 in the US R&B Charts. Two years later, in May 1980 came Odyssey’s third album Hang Together. This would see a change in Odysseys’s fortunes, but not in the US, with one of their singles, Use It Up and Wear It Out reaching number one in the UK.
After the commercial failure of Hollywood Party Tonight, Sandy Linzer, who’d produced Odyssey’s debut album Odyssey was hired. Sandy decided to move thee recording sessions to the Hit Factory in Manhattan. The other change Sandy made, was bringing in Ray Chew as arranger. Previously, he’d worked with Ashford and Simpson on a number of albums. This included Diana Ross’ The Boss, Gladys Knight and The Pips’ All About Love and albums by Candi Staton. One final thing Sandy decided to do was hire a number of songwriters. They cowrote the eight tracks on Hang Together with Sandy Linzer, including three songs with Larry Russell Brown. With eight songs written, Odyssey and their band headed to the Hit Factory in Manhattan.
While Odyssey’s third album Hang Together didn’t sell as well in the US, it performed much better in the UK. Not only did it reach number thirty-six in the UK, but Use It Up and Wear It Out reached number one and If You’re Looking For A Way Out reached number six. After this, Odyssey continued to be more popular in the UK than the US. For me, Odyssey’s music was always underrated, with tracks like Never Had It All, Don’t Tell Me, Tell Her, Follow Me (Play Follow the Reader) plus the two hit singles Use It Up and Wear It Out and If You’re Looking For A Way Out demonstrate this. Of these tracks, the gospel tinged Never Had It All shows a quite different, but very beautiful side to Odyssey’s music, while Follow Me (Play Follow the Reader) is blessed with a killer hook. Then there’s the fusion of funk, disco, soul and Latin music that is Use It Up and Wear It Out. It’s one of the most memorable tracks on Hang Together, apart from If You’re Looking For A Way Out, which to me, is absolutely peerless. To me, You’re Looking For A Way Out is one of the highlights of Odyssey’s career, bettered only by Native New Yorker, from their debut album Odyssey. It was rereleased by BBR Records in 2011, while Hang Together will be rereleased by BBR Records on 7th May 2012. This rerelease of Hang Together, Odyssey’s finest album, is the perfect introduction to their music and will allow you to hear the various sides to Odyssey’s music. Standout Tracks: Never Had It All, Follow Me (Play Follow the Reader), Use It Up and Wear It Out and If You’re Looking For A Way Out.