Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Zombies – Greatest Hits

The Zombies were one of the top 60’s British invasion bands with a unique sound based on Rod Argent’s electric piano. All of their elements are highlighted in their phenomenal first hit single, “She’s Not There” – great pop songwriting, intricate drumming with an unusual beat, superb vocal harmonies and Rod’s cool keyboards. The really did have a sound of their own and they had some of the best tunes of the 60’s!

Not everything on this CD is truly their best and “Don’t Cry For Me”, while a good pop tune, is far more conventional than their big hits and really not super special. “I Can’t Make Up My Mind” is a little more Zombie-like in feel, but still a bit inconsequential.

They do a better job on “You Make Me Feel So Good”, a more interesting pop number. Oddly, the follow up to “She’s Not There”, “Tell Her No” was not a hit in England, though it still scored big in America. I can’t imagine why the Brits snubbed this as it is supremely catchy with its “no,no,no,no,nononono” choruses and patented Zombie sound. A truly fantastic smash!

A nice minor key tune is “The Kind of Girl”, with interesting harmonies and cool dynamic work. Colin Blunstone was a fantastic singer with an unmistakable style and the backup vocals always blend perfectly.

Bassist Chris White was a fairly prolific song writer but unfortunately, I like his songs less than Argent’s. Not bad, but Rod is obviously the one who created their sound. “Leave Me Be” is another good, but not great, pop song.

But, “Sometimes” is great, with its intricate melody and jumps from almost ballad territory to up-tempo beat music. Colin shows how he can shift his voice from one extreme to another in a short breath! Another rockin’ number is “It’s All Right With Me” – great, energetic r’n’r with cool guitar and keyboard breaks and a half tempo bridge. Clever, fun stuff!

This set then showcases a couple of White’s best numbers – “I Don’t Want to Know” and “I Love You”. The former is a creative pop tune with some interesting instrumental segments and tempo changes. “I Love You” was another smash in the states and rightly so! White got it right this time – this is perfect Zombie material! Minor key melodies, another unusual drum beat from Hugh Grundy, a super Argent solo, and Colin sounding damn near desperate when he pleads “and I don’t know what to say!” Couldn’t be better!

Rod turns in a lesser song in his Brit-beat “Indication” – nothing special here though the repetitive ending is interestingly hypnotic. White’s “Nothing’s Changed” is a fairly bland ballad. But then they return with their biggest hit ever, the posthumous “Time of the Season” from their psychedelic album, Odessey and Oracle. This deserved to be a massive tune – another unique rhythm, incredible harmonies and melody, perfect keyboards and a fairly indescribable breathy background vocal that becomes part of the rhythm section. Just magical…

This set concludes with “Imagine the Swan” from the final album and it is a bit of a let down after “Time of the Season”. It is somewhat of an overblown ballad with overdone production and a sound that is more middle-of-the-road pop than Mersey-beat. This could easily have been left off of this collection and I doubt that much of anyone would have cared.

Regardless, the Zombies were a terrific band with some incredible songs and this is a good compilation or some of their biggest hits.