The Zombies – Oddities & Extras – VareseSaraband (2019)/Craft Recordings (2021) Record Store Day [6/12/2021] 180-gram mono vinyl, 29:45 ****:
(Rod Argent – piano, keyboards, vocals; Colin Blunstone – vocals; Paul Atkinson – guitar; Hugh Grundy – drums; Chris White – bass; and others)
Once the influence of American Rock & Roll permeated the British music scene, there was a tidal wave effect. First The Beatles, then The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five and many bands became successful in England before the inevitable journey to The States. One of these groups was The Zombies. Led by keyboardist Rod Argent and vocalist Colin Blunstone, they created a jazzier vibe with their 1964 single, “She’s Not There”. In 1965, the band appeared on the first episode of Hullabaloo establishing a presence. A follow-up single “Tell Her No” did not chart like “She’s Not There”. In 1967, at Abbey Road Studios, the group hit a critical, if not commercial zenith with the album, Odessey And Oracle. Though it garnered a lukewarm reception, it has become an influential rock album, and produced an unexpected hit single, “Time Of The Season”. Part of the lore of Odessey And Oracle is that due to a limited budget, The Zombies used John Lennon’s mellotron from the concurrent Sgt. Pepper sessions. At this point, the group was beginning to break up. They reunited years later and were inducted into the 2019 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame class. Rod Argent enjoyed success as a solo artist, most notably on “Hold Your Head Up”. His iconic organ solo is considered to be among the finest on any rock recording.
Craft Recordings in conjunction with Record Store Day 2021 has released a 180-gram mono vinyl of early Zombies material, Oddities & Extras. Initially released prior to their R & R H.O.F. induction in 2019, the 13-song compilation (singles, soundtrack tunes and outtakes) provides a look inside the artistic journey of this band. Side One opens with “Kind Of Girl” (a Rod Argent Composition). Improbably left off the Zombies debut LP, the 60’s pop rocker features the steady 4/4 beat and organ riffs, with the distinctive vocals associated with this group. “She’s Coming Home” (also by Argent) was the third single, and showcases all of the trademark hooks and rhythms, with a snappy chorus, strong piano and moody organ shading. There are detailed liner notes on the back of the album. Bassist Chris White contributed “I Must Move” with a mellower, flowing tempo and three-part harmony. With jazzier 3/4 time signature, “I Want You Back Again” indicates the musical development of The Zombies, Although not commercially successful. Argent’s electric piano solo is top-notch. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers would cover this on a live album. Argent’s unique arrangements help this music stand out from other contemporary artists. After a lesser-known White number, “I Can’t Make Up My Mind”, the Argent moodiness returns on “I Remember When I Loved Her”. Argent’s ethereal organ infuses a melancholic texture. Switching to oddity mode, “I’m Going Home” is a rocking blues jam with a fired-up solo by Argent. Blunstone’s stirring vocals are memorable.
Side Two kicks off with three tracks recorded for the Otto Preminger film, Bunny Lake Is Missing. The first cut, “I Remember You” standard pop of the era, but with some cool piano licks. The Colin Blunstone-penned “Just Out Of Reach” incorporates all of the signature Zombie riffs, succinct tempo with guitar chords, great vocals and organ. In a bit of introspective reflection, “Nothing’s Changed” is reminiscent of British pop vocal groups of the mid 60’s. Certainly British musicians were influenced by American r & b. This version of Little Anthony & The Imperials’ “Goin’ Out Of My Head” is credible, but lacks the impactful higher-register vocals. The uncharted “B” side, “She Does Everything For Me” is a straight up rocker with a driving beat, hand claps and descending harmony backup vocals. The final offering (Rod Argent’s “A Love That Never Was”) is more developed songwriting and arrangement, but surprisingly had no commercial impact for The Zombies.
The Zombies – Oddities & Extras is an historical footnote to England’s 1960’s pop movement. The 180-gram mono mix is substantially centered. The listener gets to experience sound production that was designed for single-speaker technology of the day.
Side One: Kind Of Girl; She’s Coming Home; I Must Move; I Want You Back Again; I Can’t Make Up My Mind; I Remember When I Loved Her’ I’m Going Home
Side Two: Remember You; Just Out Of Reach; Nothing’s Changed; Goin’ Out Of My Head; She Does Everything For Me; A Love That Never Was.
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