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The Zombies

Aside from the Beatles and perhaps the Beach Boys, no mid-'60s rock group wrote melodies as gorgeous as those of the Zombies. Dominated by Colin Blunstone's breathy vocals, choral backup harmonies, and Rod Argent's shining jazz- and classical-influenced organ and piano, the band sounded utterly unique for their era. Indeed, their material -- penned by either Argent or guitarist Chris White, with unexpected shifts from major to minor keys -- was perhaps too adventurous for the singles market. To this day, they're known primarily for their three big hit singles, "She's Not There" (1964), "Tell Her No" (1965), and "Time of the Season" (1969). Most listeners remain unaware that the group maintained a remarkably high quality of work for several years.

The Zombies formed in the London suburb of St. Albans in the early '60s, and didn't actually entertain serious professional ambitions until they won a local contest, the prize being an opportunity to record a demo for consideration at major labels. Argent's composition "She's Not There" got them a deal with Decca, and the song ended up being their debut release. It was a remarkably confident and original first-time effort, with a great minor melody and the organ, harmonies, and urgent, almost neurotic vocals that would typify much of their work. It did well enough in Britain (making the Top 20), but did even better in the States, where it went to number two.

In fact, throughout their career, the group would experience a lot more success across the waters than they did at home. In early 1965, another piece of classic British Invasion pop, "Tell Her No," went into the Top Ten. Yet that was as much Top 40 success as the group would have for several years. The tragedy was that throughout 1965 and 1966, the Zombies released a string of equally fine, intricately arranged singles that flopped commercially, at a time in which chart success of 45s was a lot more important to sustain a band's livelihood than it would be a few years down the road. "Remember When I Loved Her," "I Want You Back Again," "Indication," "She's Coming Home," "Whenever You're Ready," "Gotta Get a Hold of Myself," "I Must Move," "Remember You," "Just Out of Reach," "How We Were Before" -- all are lost classics, some relegated to B-sides that went virtually unheard, all showing the group eager to try new ideas and expand their approaches. What's worse, the lack of a big single denied the group opportunities to record albums -- only one LP, rushed out to capitalize on the success of "She's Not There," would appear before 1968.

Their failure to achieve more widespread success is a bit mystifying, perhaps explained by a few factors. While undeniably pop-based, their original compositions and arrangements were in some senses too adventurous for the radio. "Indication," for instance, winds down with a lengthy, torturous swirl of bitter organ solos and wordless, windblown vocals; "Remember When I Loved Her," despite its beautiful melody, has downbeat lyrics that are almost morbid; "I Want You Back Again" is arranged like a jazz waltz, with the sorts of sudden stops, tempo shifts, and lengthy minor organ solos found in a lot of their tunes. The Zombies were also, perhaps unfairly, saddled with a somewhat square image; much was made of their formidable scholastic record, and they most definitely did not align themselves with the R&B-based school of British bands, preferring more subtle and tuneful territory.

By 1967, the group hadn't had a hit for quite some time, and reckoned it was time to pack it in. Their Decca contract expired early in the year, and the Zombies signed with CBS for one last album, knowing before the sessions that it was to be their last. A limited budget precluded the use of many session musicians, which actually worked to the band's advantage, as they became among the first to utilize the then-novel Mellotron to emulate strings and horns.

Odessey and Oracle was their only cohesive full-length platter (the first album was largely pasted together from singles and covers). A near-masterpiece of pop/psychedelia, it showed the group reaching new levels of sophistication in composition and performance, finally branching out beyond strictly romantic themes into more varied lyrical territory. The album passed virtually unnoticed in Britain, and was only released in the States after some lobbying from Al Kooper. By that time it was 1968, and the group had split for good.

The Zombies had been defunct for some time when one of the tracks from Odessey, "Time of the Season," was released as a single, almost as an afterthought. It took off in early 1969 to become their biggest hit, but the members resisted temptations to re-form, leading to a couple of bizarre tours in the late '60s by bogus "Zombies" with no relation to the original group. By this time, Rod Argent was already recording as the leader of Argent, which went in a harder rock direction than the Zombies. After a spell as an insurance clerk, Colin Blunstone had some success (more in Britain than America) in the early '70s as a solo vocalist, with material that often amounted to soft rock variations on the Zombies sound.

Much more influential than their commercial success would indicate, echoes of the Zombies' innovations can be heard in the Doors, the Byrds, the Left Banke, the Kinks, and many others. After a long period during which most of their work was out of print, virtually all of their recordings have been restored to availability on CD. Blunstone and Argent reunited for an album, Out of the Shadows, and toured together in 2003 as Blunstone & Argent, playing live shows into 2004 when they began gigging again as the Zombies, with an album and DVD set, Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, appearing under that name in 2005. To honor the 40th anniversary of Odessey and Oracle, the four surviving original members of the group reunited for a series of three concerts at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire Theatre in March of 2008, with a CD and DVD set of the shows hitting the market later that summer. A new studio album, Breathe Out, Breathe In, attributed to the Zombies featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent, appeared in 2011. ~ Richie Unterberger & Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Give to Em Ee Zz
This song makes me want some coke and whiskey.
omg sweetie child of mine .
oh no you didnt . phil collins
you know what music to play .
this is the most awesome music .best movie ever .
eagles again ' yea
i love this . having spent time in naorleans
eagles yea
Thank you Zombies for Rod Argent
dimmwitness
animals + zombies = doors
These were the days
Summertime

The livin is easy. Epic
These guys are just cool...
rodeo19
Jall house rock
How would I know? Why should I care
Nope lol... ;) wish
Wish my daddy was as rich as him. Love this song.
"69"A Very Good Year*978*~6m 1 4 y ~
She's Not There will weaken your knees, Zombies severely underrated
Love this song. Brings back a lot of memories
Love The Beats & Rhythm Of This Song:) Awesome!
First Rock and Roll song in a minor key.
Yes original members features Rod Argent & Colin Bluestone w White rejoining the band for a few current shows. Atkinson died in 2004. Argent's cousin Jim Redford now plays bass, while his brother has taken over drums for the Zombies. In Houston @ the Dose Doe- Woodlands on Sunday May 11.
I first heard this song while my dad was driving me in his old Pontiac. He said with a wink "I'm not rich, but I'm your daddy" . My dad passed away way too early and I always cry when I hear this.
i was a kid..loved this song,,wanted to grow up and be a hippie
Excuse me ladies and gents what's ur name and who's ur daddy
One hell of a song I love it it's awesome
The British invasion was the best thing that happened to America back in the 60's. They sent many fine artist to are shores
I could still remember that song when I first heard it back in 60's
Great song!
Seriously one of the best f**king songs of all time
One of the best bands ever (drugs are good)
Drugs f**k ya
f**k da police drugsR4every o n e
drugs r just for thugs
abcdefghijkl m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
Aaaaaaah...l i g h t it up!
Nothing mentioned oft Blunstone's involement with The Alan Parsons Project. Old and Wise was probably the best work he'd ever done outside of his Zombies and solo careers.
I love you Colin! You and me forever…Your voice is so incredible my friend! You are the real DEAL! So sexy and sweet on key and perfect pitch! Please be mine always! XO XO XO love u! so...
like
Tulip
linda.huffma n 7
The Guess Who did a version
In fact I do
Like this band!!!
Oddesy and oracle. One of the greatest albums in history
Damn I remember when I first heard this band, I was probably about 10 or 11 and my parents use to jam to this song all the time now looking back on it my mom was a little bit of a hippie which I found kinda weird because my father hates hippies so I still to this day can't figure out how they came together it's still mind boggling to make even before I had this traumatic brain injury and even a few years she's been dead
The Zombies were unfortunatel y under appreciated. Their masterpiece Time of the Season released after they disbanded. What a shame. What a great song.
Utterly unique for their time, I can really dig on all these 45 A & B sides I've never heard before.....
Yeah, found the Zombies radio station for very old classic pop
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