Forgetten series: The Zombies – The Zombies (1965)

Founded 1962 in St. Albans, England, the Zombies starred the remarkable talents of lead singer Colin Blunstone, guitarist Paul Atkinson, bassist Chris White, keyboardist Rod Argent, and drummer Hugh Grundy. Competent chops, advanced by a varied musical vocabulary and sturdy songwriting skills directed the band to stand out among the many other British groups then inhabiting the airwaves and teen magazines.

The band’s first hit single, “She’s Not There” reached No. 2 on the charts in the fall of 1964 and was quickly followed by “Tell Her No” that cracked the top ten. Both these tunes, which are included on the band’s American debut album, The Zombies (Parrot Records) inject strands of jazz into contemporary pop rock concepts, resulting in a seductive sound that houses sophistication, smoothness, and edginess under one roof. Yearning vocals, flanked by feathery harmonies, blinding hooks, minor key chords, and twirling keyboard lashings further personify the tracks.

Cuts like “Woman,” “I Don’t Want To Know,” and “Sometimes” also zero in on the band’s knack for dispensing artful arrangements and engaging melodies, and then there’s “Work ‘N Play,” a frisky harmonica-riddled instrumental bleeding with blues bluster. A paralyzing version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” a herky-jerky recreation of the Muddy Waters classic “I Got My Mojo Working,” and an impassioned medley of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” additionally appear on the collection.

Unfortunately, the Zombies wouldn’t release another album until 1968, but what a masterpiece it was. Swamped with lush and detailed psychedelic pop applications, the bizarrely spelled Odessey and Oracle contained the haunting “Time Of The Season,” which peaked at No. 3 early in 1969. But by then, the Zombies had called it quits. The band evolved into Argent, enjoyed success on the counterculture circuit, and even garnered commercial commerce with “Hold Your Head Up,” which made the top five the summer of 1972. In recent years, the Zombies have reunited and continue to draw the crowds and critical acclaim. The band’s influence has spanned decades, and their songs have been covered by a diverse selection of musicians.

Professionally executed, but still maintaining an organic feel, The Zombies captures the band handling jazz, pop, soul, and beat music with an instinctive maturity. The roots of progressive rock begin here!

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.