The Zombies: The Rock and Roll Undead

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The Zombies: The Rock and Roll Undead

by JasonBryan / Oct 27, 2015 / 0 comments
Date: 
Saturday, 24 October 2015

In the dawn of rock and roll, British youths were on the forefront. If Stanley Kubrick had made an epic about the origins of rock and roll, he could have the early sixties when the monolith, no the stereolith, appeared and evolved mankind’s music tastes into the electric era. In 1964 The Zombies released She’s Not There and it quickly climbed the charts. Their follow up singles never repeated the success in their native England, so they put together the album “Odessey and Oracle” before they split to pursue personal interests. But in the rest of the globe they continued to rise in the charts. “Odessey and Oracle” is listed as 100 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 500 albums of all time. Fifty years later, the band is finally truly enjoying the success of their youth.

The Zombies came to the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills Saturday night, led by original members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone and supported by Tom Tooney on guitar, Jim Rodford (also from The Kinks) on bass, and Steve Rodford on drums. The band was fantastic. If they showed their age, it was only in the professionalism and perfection of their music. In the first set they went through a good mix of some of their old and new tunes. Their new crowd funded album “Still Got That Hunger” is at the 100 spot in overall album sales.

Both Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone told fun and insightful anecdotes before many of their songs, like how they ended up letting Tell Her No be in a toothpaste commercial. My favorite was when they described how they never felt their tune I Want You Back Again was one of their best songs, but then they heard Tom Petty’s cover of it, and really liked the way he did it. They then explained that this was their cover of Tom Petty’s cover of their original song. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a huge Petty fan and I enjoy cover songs. Somewhere in the multiverse, in a dimension with looser physics than our own, I turned inside out. Needless to say their rendition of Petty’s rendition of their song was fantastic. Petty was in attendance, but I didn’t get the chance to ask him how he felt about it. They also covered Smokey Robinson’s You Really Got a Hold on Me with added Sam Cooke’s Bring It on Home to Me which turns out is the way Smokey performed it on his live album that the young band mates had in their youth.

Late in the first set, Rod Argent introduced his biggest hit from his post The Zombies band, Argent’s Hold Your Head Up. He informed the audience that he did not write it rather Chris White, the bassist from the Zombies, had. The transition from 60’s oldies to 70’s classic rock got the crowd amped. And then they closed the first set with their first single and highest charted hit, She’s Not There.

The second set was the real treat as original members Chris White and Hugh Grundy joined the current line up and the band played the album “Odessey and Oracle” in its entirety. Aided by an additional back up singer and keyboardist to make sure the layers of sounds mixed into the album could be recreated on stage. The band just went into it and delivered a blast from the past. I managed to upgrade my seats to 5th row center during the intermission so I was on an extra concert high. The band was excited to play an album that they didn’t get to play together on stage at the time of its release. Chris White mouthed the lyrics to every line of every song whether he was singing or not. It was great to see the guys look back and have so much fun performing this album. The track list of the album was very suitable for a concert, and there’s always the fun of anticipation when you know what’s coming next. As insightful and informative as the dialogue was in the first set, it was deliberately left out of the 2nd set to play the album uninterrupted. The only difference was a slightly longer pause between songs than on the record to allow for the fans to cheer. There was one slight exception of a comment, after Hung Up on a Dream, about that being the end of side one. An art of music pacing lost as technology advanced. The CD could play an entire album at once, and now digital players can play an infinite number of tracks uninterrupted.

One of the highlights was in a Butcher’s Tale, Argent played on a World War I era harmonium or bellow organ. What really made the playing of “Odessey and Oracle” special was the last track on the album. In a world where the method of operation for concerts is to save the best for last, the bands biggest commercial success, Time of the Season was perfectly placed to finish off the album and the second set. Well, sort of, the fans wanted more and the band wasn’t willing to give it to them. They didn’t do a true encore, but the band did do a reprise of She’s Not There with more of a jam and extended two-percussionist drum solo. It was a great way to finish the show. The show left such a positive impression on me and ended so perfectly I was singing She’s Not There the entire walk to my car.

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