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  • Begin Here,
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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    The Zombies

    Singles As & Bs 10 ( 2002 )
    She's Not There / You Make Me Feel So Good / Leave Me Be / Woman / Tell Her No / What More Can I Do / She's Coming Home / I Must Move / I Want You Back Again / I Remember When I Loved Her / Whenever You're Ready / I Love You / Is This The Dream? / Don't Go Away / Remember You / Just Out Of Reach / Indication / How We Were Before / Gotta Get Hold Of Myself / The Way I Feel Inside / Goin Out Of My Head / She Does Everything For Me / Friends Of Mine / Beechwood Park / This Will Be Our Year / Butcher's Tale / Care Of Cell 44 / Maybe After He's Gone / Time Of The Season / I'll Call You Mine / Imagine The Swan / Conversation Off Floral Street / If It Don't Work Out / I Know She Will / Don't Cry For Me / I'll Call You Mine ( Overdubbed Version ) / Kind Of Girl / Sometimes / It's Alright With Me / Summertime / Nothing's Changed / Remember You ( Soundtrack Version )

    Their name might have been better if it had been something else altogether, but we'll forget that little detail. Their debut single and great big stonking number one hit was 'She's Not There', and this new group are called? The Zombies! With, 'She's Not There'? Yeah, that's right. Makes sense doesn't it? Their second UK single was called 'Leave Me Be', a soft ballad with much emphasis on the vocals of Colin Blunstone and little emphasis on instrumentation or excitement. It was a poor choice to follow 'She's Not There' and it tanked. In the US meanwhile, the fabulous 'Tell Her No' was released as a second single and went top ten. In the UK? It failed to chart. In actual fact, following 'She's Not There' - The Zombies would never again have a chart success, single or album - in their native homeland. Perhaps it was the spectacles that put off prospective buyers?

    Signed to Decca records following following a 'battle of the bands' contest, The Zombies didn't take long at all to hit big with 'She's Not There', one of THE best singles of the entire sixties for my money. Strong bass lines, the vocals of Colin Blunstone - very soulful. Keyboard wizz Rod Argent added instrumental prowess to the group, the rhythm section were solid. The vocals were fabulous, and 'She's Not There' full of everything a pop fan in the Sixties could reasonably ask for. 'Leave Me Be' is a nice sweet song that should have been on their debut album, but it wasn't. As a failed single, it was never gonna be. But, yeah - the emphasis on the vocals of Colin Blunstone, a soft airy kind of singer yet able to break into strong powerful soulful sections just as easily - seen as the key to the success of 'She's Not There' by their producer do give 'Leave Me Be' such an elegance! And that's ignoring the sophisticated semi-jazz musical backing. 'Tell Her No' is SUCH A FUCKING GREAT SONG! The UK public ignored this? They ignored The Zombies entire career, but god! This is like discovering a long-lost classic Sixties gem of the highest order - exactly what the song is. Romantic, swooning, full of passion and raw vocals in-between ultra sweet, soft and lovely vocals. Impeccably sang. No, really. This guy could sing. A polished, brilliantly produced single...... it's a new favourite in our house, in any event. And, what's this? A fantastic b-side too? Yeah, 'What More Can I Do' is stellar, perfect - beautiful harmonies and a crazy 'Animals' sounding keyboard/organ break. 'She's Coming Home' is the sound of Motown and the sound of Phil Spector wired through the golden vocal chords of Colin Blunstone. A perfect pop song that failed to be a hit in either the UK or the US - and things were getting desperate for the group. A string of singles were released in the hope of getting back on some kind of commercial path, great songs like the thumping 'Indication' - a powerhouse performance with a chorus as catchy as any contemporary single by The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks or The Who. But, 'The Zombies'? And they wore spectacles, and just weren't sexy, you know? Oh, a fickle public who don't give you the time of day unless you happen to 'fit'.

    The Zombies sign to CBS records and record an album called 'Odessey And Oracle' which isn't even given a release initially in the US. They self produce the album and record it in 'Abbey Road' studios. Upon a trip to England, Al Kooper ( Blood Sweat And Tears and Bob Dylan ) found 'Odessy And Oracle', loved it, went back to CBS in America and got the album a release. A string of singles were pulled from the record with no success, and The Zombies split up. A final throw of the dice, 'Time Of The Season' is released. A radio station somewhere in the US plays 'Time Of The Season', it sells five copies in one day in a particular store someplace and the record company get into action promoting it..... it reaches number one. The Zombies reform, minus Colin Blunstone, sadly, for a few subsequent singles, none of which were commercially successful. Surprised? Well, it fits their history, doesn't it? Appreciated only after they've gone.

    About those 'Odessey And Oracle' songs, by the way. Six or seven of them feature here. 'Friends Of Mine' has lovely, lovely beautiful harmonies of the highest order, a chorus as catchy as the flu and is a stone cold pop classic infused with 1967 and psychedelia, but not in any kind of desperate or obvious way. A superb self-production, by the way. 'Abbey Road' studios were good, you know! Never did The Beatles any harm, after all.... 'Beechwood Park' is slow, spooky - the vocals softly blow through you, impossible beauty and sadness - something to fall in love to. 'This Will Be Our Year' opens with a keyboard melody before turning into more pop gold impeccably sang - this guy COULD SING! One of the finest voices of The Sixties, and it's been underused and under-appreciated - so few people have heard it. 'Butchers Tale' is quirky and 'Sgt Pepper' quality - easily. 'Care Of Cell 44' is another perfect pop song that should have been number one everywhere in the world instead of being totally ignored. Strings subtly orchestrate, the lyrics are clever - a spring time Sunday walk with a loved one, that's 'Care Of Cell 44'. 'Bo, bum, bo....' harmonies. I played this song to a friend that knows me rather well, knows my musical tastes - she'd not really heard of The Zombies bar 'She's Not There'. She straight away knew why I loved this, the harmonies! Enough for any Beach Boys, Beatles or Byrds fan, easy.

    'Time Of The Season' was based around 'Stand By Me', the classic soul number. A clever variation of the bass line and a lyric exactly plugged into the hippy mood of the times. The lyric isn't political, doesn't say anything - but match it with the truly blissful lead and backing vocals - EXACTLY matching the mood of those times, or indeed, any time - because the song is utterly timeless and probably ( although it has damn stiff competition ) one of the ten best singles of the entire Sixites. That's where I'd place it. The post Blunstone songs? Good stuff, especially 'If It Don't Work Out' a song The Monkees could have recorded and had a number one hit with. These guys could write songs! Ah, god - just discover them, won't you?

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    Readers Comments

    RobEvKolar@aol.com
    The Zombies A's and B's is fantastic! They are definately an underrated but timeless band of the 60's era. "I want you back again" is an amazing number amongst others. Haunting vocals, dark jazzy keys, innovative drums and well written melodies make them a classic band that any songwriter or music lover should check out. Good Review.david9859@yahoo.com
    Maybe you could help my clarify the Zombies singles. They have 3 "singles" cds available. The first released in 1990 The Zombies "Singles A's & B's" with 22 tracks (one hidden) covering 1964 -1967 on the See For Miles label...some of those tracks are in mono and some in stereo. The second came out a few years ago The Zombies "Singles Collection 1964-1969" with 28 tracks in chronological order as they were released. Now there is a third release The Zombies "Singles A's & B's" a double disc with 42 tracks on Repertoire label. If the "Collection 1964-1969" includes everything they released then why would there be another release with more tracks? Although the third installment on Repertoire is said to be entirely in mono. thank you, David

    Matt Brockett matt@thorsdiscs.co.uk
    I like The Zombies too, so thanks for a great review of their work. However, I could have sworn that 'Tell Her No' was a UK hit, if only a modest one. Whatever, they certainly deserved more success in my opinion. A great band.

    tony lampert a.lampert@btinternet.com
    Just surfed in. Is this an English or American site? Whichever, I really liked your reviews. If you don't already know, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent have just released a new album in the U.K. with the re-formed Zombies call "As far as I can see" and it is just as good as "Odessey and Oracle". I have seen them live on stage for last three years since they got together again and they are better than ever. The best band I have seen since The Beatles in my opinion. The album is available on the Amazon website and is being sold on Ebay as well. So underrated as you say. Rod Argent composed 10 of the songs, brilliant harmonies, Blunstone's unique vocals. Sooooooooo good!! Buy it and you will want to keep playing it like I do.

    Maurice Roca fraim25@aol.com
    You should review Odessey and Oracle on its own. It is clearly one of the best albums of the 60's or ever. I also love The Buthchers Tale...its one of my favorite songs by them. I have a similar singles album with most of these songs...and they are all great...but Odessey is the best thing they ever did.

    Jude Bolton Australia
    I have, or should I say used to have, the single disc version of Singles A's & B's, but sold it after buying reissues of Begin Here and Odessey & Oracle which together covered every track on my (and this) version of A's and B's. The single version is an incredibly consistent collection of music, with literally only ONE duffer - the clumsy Woman. What amazes me is that, if the tracks were presented randomly and there were no liner notes, I would have no idea (The Way I Feel Inside and the aforementioned Woman aside) which songs were A-sides and which were B-sides, they're all that great! You Make Me Feel Good was a B-side? It's better than the subsequent A-side Leave Me Be! I Love You was the B-side of Whenever You're Ready? It's every bit as good. And the list goes on. Even on the early Beatles singles, you could usually tell what the B-sides were. Ditto the Kinks. The Stones' B-sides were generally vastly inferior to their A-sides. The Beach Boys kind of cheated, using prov! en classics from their previous album as the B-side to most of their early singles. However the Zombies were in my opinion the epitomy of the double-sided single as an artform in the 1960s.


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    Begin Here 7 ( 1964 )
    Roadrunner / Summertime / I Can't Make Up My Mind / The Way I Feel Inside / Work N Play / You Really Got A Hold On Me / She's Not There / Sticks And Stones / Can't Nobody Love You / Woman / I Don't Want To Know / I Remember When I Loved Her / What More Can I Do / I Got My Mojo Working

    The above review will tell you all you really need to know about The Zombies stellar singles and i'll be covering 'Odessey And Oracle' in more detail, but the above review gives you a good taster. What you may not know is that 'Begin Here', The Zombies debut LP, really isn't very good. Well, correction. The majority of the original material is wonderful, but then again, half of the album consists of cover versions. It was the done thing in the beat group era to record your live set. Your live set, unless you were The Beatles, had to contain cover versions so the audience would be familiar with the material. That still doesn't excuse the opening and closing numbers here. We've a hideous 'Roadrunner' and a pointless 'I Got My Mojo Working' and neither demonstrate the vocals of Colin Blunstone well. Neither seem to indicate that The Zombies are anything other than an average beat group of no distinction. On the otherhand, 'I Can't Make Up My Mind' and 'The Way I Feel Inside', the first two originals here, are both wonderful. Chris White's 'I Can't Make Up My Mind' isn't a million miles removed from other Zombie singles, it's of a similar quality, meaning it's very good indeed. 'The Way I Feel Inside' is a Rod Argent composition and is a soft, pleasing demonstration of the soul inherent in the vocals of Colin Blunstone. It's also pleasingly a million miles removed from beat groups and merseybeat. It indicates that The Zombies did indeed have an original talent if only they had consistently been allowed to demonstrate it at the time.

    In terms of performing style, compared to The Beatles, we can make a direct comparison when considering 'You Really Got A Hold On Me', which of course, The Beatles also performed and recorded. The Zombies reveal themselves to have, arguably, a better singer in their ranks than the entire Beatles. The Beatles version of this tune is pretty great too, but I do prefer this version. I also like The Zombies version of 'Summertime' that's here, Colin gives a smokey, hazy and sunny performance, where the sunshine lazily fades into view through the clouds. Of the remaining originals on 'Begin Here', 'Woman' is fairly undistinguished Animals like rhythm and blues fare, 'I Don't Want To Know' is demonstrating the way The Zombies could pen a strong chorus and 'I Remember When I Loved Her' is simply lovely and gorgeous. Oh, and 'She's Not There' is of course fantastic. Almost forgot that song for a moment, my apologies. Overall, 'Begin Here' could have been so much better. The singles The Zombies released in the immediate aftermath were cool songs and better than the cover versions this record contains. The Zombies, like many groups that weren't The Beatles, didn't have enough power, freedom or confidence though to do anything else, it seems.

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    Readers Comments

    Jude Bolton Australia
    I have the Repertoire reissue of this album which contains as bonus tracks everything on Singles As & Bs up until (but not including) Gotta Get A Hold Of Myself, plus a few more assorted tracks (Kind Of Girl, It's Alright With Me, Sometimes, I'm Going Home - demo). As for the Begin Here album itself, it suffers because of the cover version which (apart from Summertime and possibly You've Really Got A Hold) aren't as good as the band's original material. In fact, with very few exceptions, I find every song written by Argent or White to be at least interesting, and more often than not superior to even the very best material from most 1960s bands. Kind Of Girl reminds of the Kinks' Such A Shame, a timeless, insanely catchy song buried on a minor throwaway EP, to be lost forever in the annals of popular music. Such a shame indeed!


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    Breathe In, Breathe Out 6 ( 2011 )
    Breathe Out, Breathe In / Any Other Way / Play It for Real / Shine on Sunshine / Show Me the Way / A Moment in Time / Christmas for the Free / Another Day / I Do Believe / Let It Go

    Key founder members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent are present and correct, but Paul Atkinson - guitar, vocals, Chris White - bass, vocals and Hugh Grundy - drums have long since departed. Colin and Rod are joined here then by former Kink Jim Rodford - bass, vocals, Tom Toomey - guitar, vocals and Jim's son, Steve Rodford on drums. Original guitarist Paul Atkinson had been involved in or two of the reunions over the years, but sadly passed away in 2004. Post The Zombies original split in 1968 they've released a live album, various compilations and a poorly received album of new material, 'As Far As I Can See' in 2004. Rod Argent since 1968 formed a successful band bearing his own name and became a producer of note. Colin Blunstone had a solo career selling more records than he did as a member of The Zombies. It's strange considering such facts when the parent group were always more acclaimed and written about, largely because of 1968s 'Odesey And Oracle'. Three songs on 'Breathe Out, Breathe In' date from some of the aforementioned projects, 'Any Other Way' featured on a Bluestone solo album, 'Christmas For The Free' was originally an Argent b-side and 'Shine On Sunshine' is also a track that originally appeared on a Rod Argent project. Argent were a Seventies band that trod the line between Rock and Progressive Rock and some of those influences infiltrate this new album here. Alternatively, some of the songs remind one of Steely Dan or The Beach Boys. Vocally, Blunestone sounds in remarkably fine fettle, considering he first performed for The Zombies way back in 1961. Rod Argent is still a very fine musician as in particular some of his keyboard runs clearly demonstrate.

    The album has a stately kind of sound, mid-tempo pop rock with breathy vocals, keyboard/organ sounds and a somewhat dated feel as a result. Well, we naturally don't expect a band this old to come up with anything new, their formula for 'Breathe Out, Breathe In' seems to be 'let's take lots of the elements people liked about us in the 60s and 70s' and actually, there's nothing too terribly wrong with that. At times the vocals sound like classic Zombies, at other times pleasingly like Carl Wilson from The Beach Boys and coming from this unrepentant Beach Boys lover, that's a compliment. The closing 'Let It Go' is one such track, a song that also contains very Procal Harum like keyboard sounds. The opening track sounds the most like classic Zombies to my ears, the feel of the song is very 'Odesy and Oracle' and the harmonies very good, if also recalling Steely Dan, but there's nothing wrong with that, of course. 'Shine On Sunshine' is very Beach Boys in feel, right down to the husky vocal that recalls Carl Wilson very much indeed. This isn't 'Surfin USA' era Beach Boys by the way, rather their better late Seventies albums. Yes, such things as 'better' late Seventies Beach Boys does indeed exist! Overall, the relentlessly polite mid-tempo nature of this new Zombies album does grate on a listener, it all plays out a little too safely, 'Play It For Real' being perhaps the only track that raises the temperature and reminds us that The Zombies once did rhythm and blues and rock n roll.

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    this page last updated 08/01/12


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