Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Britain's Brainiest Band"

Since All Hallow's Eve is quickly approaching, I thought an entry on the Zombies would be most appropriate! A truly magical group, the Zombies produced some of the most gorgeous, melancholic compositions of the British Beat era. Their popsike masterpiece, Odessey and Oracle, (sic) is one of the greatest albums of all time (in my opinion, and many others, too). If you have never heard it, get your hands on a copy as quickly as possible!

Formed in St. Albans in 1963, the Zombies consisted of Rod Argent on keyboards (his Hammond B3 work is the signature element of their sound), Colin Blunstone taking lead vocals, Chris White - bass, and Hugh Grundy - drums. On the strength of a demo tape, the band was quickly signed to Decca Records. The press quickly seized upon the fact that these lads were extremely intelligent, boasting more examination qualifications than any other British group, and saddled them with the label of "Britain's Brainiest Band."

The Zombies achieved success in the US, particularly with the hits "She's Not There," "Tell Her No," and the flower child anthem "Time of the Season," which was released to much acclaim after the group's untimely demise. Colin's angelic, evocative vocals, combined with the song writing talents of Rod and Chris, set the group apart from their contemporaries. John Lennon was so impressed that he expressed the desire to produce them himself!

If one is interested in a single disc collection of the Zombies' "greatest hits," I recommend the Audio Fidelity hybrid SACD. If one wishes to delve further, dive head first into the Zombie Heaven box set, lovingly compiled by expert Alec Palao. This 4 CD set contains every single, LP track, BBC performance and studio outtake available. It's love at first listen!

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent have reunited in recent years, touring and performing together again. This past year, they performed Odessey and Oracle in it's entirety to enthusiastic crowds and have released a live CD from the tour.

(References: Zombie Heaven by Alec Palao; The Fab British Rock'N'Roll Invasion of 1964 by Dave McAleer)

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