Second Listen: Disco group Odyssey returns with ode to New York City

(May 20, 2021) New York-based trio Odyssey first reached the souls and feet of R&B listeners and dance club-goers in 1977. The bustling groove and dreamy arrangement of the group’s “Native New Yorker” matched humbling, true-to-life lyrics about the big city with celebratory production which summoned repeated jamming at the disco. Over the next few years, sisters Lillian and Louise Lopez with Bill McEachern applied their distinctive vocal treatment to a string of further soul-dance anthems such as “Use It up and Wear It Out,” “Going Back to My Roots,” and “Inside Out.”

(May 20, 2021) New York-based trio Odyssey first reached the souls and feet of R&B listeners and dance club-goers in 1977. The bustling groove and dreamy arrangement of the group’s “Native New Yorker” matched humbling, true-to-life lyrics about the big city with celebratory production which summoned repeated jamming at the disco. Over the next few years, sisters Lillian and Louise Lopez with Bill McEachern applied their distinctive vocal treatment to a string of further soul-dance anthems such as “Use It up and Wear It Out,” “Going Back to My Roots,” and “Inside Out.”

The trio retired from performing together many years ago, and both Lopez sisters passed on in the 2010’s. Lillian’s son, Steven Collazo, however, reformed the group in the early 2000s and has since continued to perform and record with several female counterparts. Now, he's revisiting material that he wrote and recorded several decades ago with his mom. The first of these efforts to come to light is a remix of the 2008 release, “New York City.” Expanding upon the premise of “Native New Yorker,” the tune tells the story of a creative individual celebrating the energy of the 212 while acknowledging that it’s “rough, tough, and dirty…but you never lie to me.”

Led by Lillian with assistance from Steven, the vocals on “New York City” resonate with vigor and grit that communicate the message convincingly and energetically. A welcome respite from run-of-the-mill songs painting a picture of NYC as a magical fantasy land, the words flow ideally with the subtle yet inviting melody and kinetic structure. If it’s any indicator of the remaining vault material to come, the full-length album The Journey Continues (due this fall) should bring the Odyssey name back into the public eye with much enthusiasm and favor.

Take a listen to the remixed “New York City” below, and welcome back Odyssey while commemorating the legacy of founding member, the late Lillian Lopez.

by Justin Kantor

Odyssey - "New York City"

 

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