The ZOMBIES – ” The Complete Studio Recordings ” (5-LP Box Set)

Posted: May 19, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The Zombies - Complete Studio Recordings (5-LP Box Set)

The Zombies rode the British Invasion wave like many of the bands that weren’t the Beatles or the Rolling Stones: by having a couple of early hits and then fading into the corners of rock ‘n’ roll history. For the first time, the essential studio recordings of Britain’s legendary Zombies are assembled in one place on vinyl.

The set includes their two original US albums: “She’s Not There/Tell Her No” and “Odessey & Oracle”; two important compilations: “I Love You” and “R.I.P”.; as well as a bespoke collection of rare singles and UK-only album tracks: “Oddities & Extras”. The most comprehensive LP collection ever assembled for The Zombies, confirmed as inductees in the R&R Hall of Fame class of 2019.

After they recorded their second album Odessey & Oracle in 1967, the Zombies became discouraged by dwindling commercial success and called it quits. A few months later, the LP – earmarked as a permanently shelved record made by a band that nobody seemed to care about anymore – found a famous champion at the record company.

The five-LP The Complete Studio Recordings is set for release and includes their first U.S. album, She’s Not There/Tell Her No; its follow-up, Odessey and Oracle, an album called I Love You, which was released in the U.K. and Japan; R.I.P., which was supposed to come out after Odessey but was never released; and Oddities & Extras, a compilation of singles and U.K.-only album tracks.

The set is due a little more than a month before the British Invasion group were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last March . “There’s been lots of ups and downs in this 50-year career,”said  singer Colin Blunstone  “This is the pinnacle, to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. What a reward for all of the ups and downs over the years.”

The Zombies originally formed in 1962 and scored their first hit two years later in their native U.K. and in the U.S. with “She’s Not There.” They placed a few more songs on the chart before splitting up in 1967. A project they were working on, Odessey and Oracle, was released a year later and a single from it, “Time of the Season,” eventually climbed into the Top 3.

Over the years, that album became one of rock’s most legendary cult records, influencing artists and entire genres in the decades since its release. The Zombies reunited several times, including a recent get-together that included tour dates and a new album, Still Got That Hunger. Singer Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent continue to lead the band.

“She’s Coming Home”
From: 1965 single

Three months after “Tell Her No” gave the Zombies their second consecutive Top 10 hit (following “She’s Not There,” their biggest hit), “She’s Coming Home” stalled at No. 58. It’s the last time they got that high on the singles chart until “Time of the Season” became a fluke Top 5 smash in 1969. Maybe it’s because “She’s Coming Home” is more Phil Spector than British Invasion.

“I Want You Back Again”
From: 1965 single

Unlike most of their contemporaries, the Zombies borrowed from jazz greats, incorporating rhythmically tricky melodies not usually heard on pop radio. Keyboardist Rod Argent often took the spotlight solo, riffing like Jimmy Smith or a Miles Davis sideman and giving the band a sophistication other groups – British and American – lacked. “I Want You Back Again” is the most jazz inspired of the early singles.

“Imagine the Swan” (1969)
From: 1969 single

After Odessey & Oracle became a belated hit a couple years after it was recorded, thanks to the Top 10 single “Time of the Season,” keyboardist Rod Argent and bassist Chris White were persuaded to put together a new Zombies album that featured older unreleased tracks and some new songs recorded by the new Argent-led lineup. “Imagine the Swan” couldn’t crack the Top 100, so the album was shelved for more than three decades. Argent then moved on to his own group. The song serves as a sweet coda to a too-brief career.

But one of its songs, “Time of the Season,” eventually climbed all the way to No. 3 in 1969 – more than a year and a half after it was recorded. And the album is now considered a cornerstone work of baroque pop, and one of rock’s greatest cult records.

Even though they were around for only a handful of years at first – the Zombies reunited in 2004 and still perform – and their catalog isn’t as deep as other Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the band’s influence is wide. And as you’ll see it’s not just Odessey & Oracle, though that classic album does show up several times.

“This Will Be Our Year”
From: Odessey & Oracle (1968)

The Zombies recorded their second album during the latter half of 1967 and then broke up before it was released. It almost never came out at all. Almost a year after Odessey & Oracle’s April 1968 release, one of its songs, “Time of the Season,” hit the Top 10, and the album became one of rock’s most heralded “lost” LPs. “This Will Be Our Year” is a highlight – all horns and Summer of Love pop swathed in one of Colin Blunstone’s warmest vocals and a centerpiece of the classic record. Like more than half of Odessey & Oracle, “Year” was written by Chris White.

“Tell Her No”
From: 1965 single

The band’s follow-up to the breakthrough “She’s Not There” runs barely two minutes, but it’s one of the breeziest two-minute singles of the ’60s. Rod Argent based the song on the hits of Burt Bacharach and Hal David from the era, which explains its almost hushed, soft-pop structure. “Tell Her No” became the Zombies’ second U.S. Top 10 hit, though it didn’t fare as well in their native England. Colin Blunstone’s breathy “whoa-oh-oh-oh” during the second verse remains one of pop’s great wordless breaks.

“A Rose for Emily”
From: Odessey & Oracle (1968)

One of Odessey & Oracle’s most melodically somber songs, and one of the best. The chamber-pop movement of the ’90s pretty much starts here. The LP split the Zombies, who were disappointed by reception to the album’s first single, “Care of Cell 44.” The record almost didn’t come out at all, until Al Kooper – a rock ‘n’ roll journeyman who played with Bob Dylan and was now a producer at the Zombies’ record company – pushed for its release. Odessey & Oraclestill wasn’t a hit, but its stature has grown over the years. “A Rose for Emily” is one of the reasons.

“Time of the Season”
From: Odessey & Oracle (1968)

The Zombies were broken up when “Time of the Season” unexpectedly climbed to No. 3 in 1969. But that didn’t stop record execs from pushing Rod Argent and Chris White – the architects behind “Season”‘s parent album, Odessey & Oracle – for more music. They never completed the project, save for a single and some songs that ended up on albums years later. “Time of the Season” is both timeless and of its time – which sorta explains why a song recorded during the Summer of Love became a hit in the way different musical climate of 1969.

“She’s Not There”
From: 1964 single

The Zombies’ first single came out just as Beatlemania ushered the British Invasion onto the U.S. charts, sending “She’s Not There” straight to No. 2. Two more Top 10 hits followed – including the late-blooming “Time of the Season” in early 1969 – before the group went dormant until the early ’90s. More than 50 years later, the song still sounds like a revolutionary record. Rod Argent, who wrote “She’s Not There,” fills the track with jazz-inspired electric piano that set the Zombies apart from their blues- and R&B-borrowing contemporaries.

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