THE ZOMBIES: Zombie Heaven (4CD Box)

Led by the accomplished Rod Argent on piano and organ. The Zombies comprised Paul Atkinson on guitar, Chris White on bass, Hugh Grundy on drums and vocalist Colin Blunstone, the latter widely acknowledged as one of the finest singers Britain has ever produced. White and Argent wrote the group's striking, inventive original material.

The group came together as school friends in the Hertfordshire town of St Albans in 1961, purely for the love of beat, jazz and R&B music. In early 1964 just as they were about to start work or college, they took a shot at the local Herts Beat talent contest and won. A few months later Rod's She's Not There became the Zombies' first single and a Top 20 hit in the UK. The group were thrown into the excitement of tours, television appearances and pop stardom. Their third release. Tell Her No was a further hit in the UK, and meanwhile in the United States, She's Not There reached the coveted #l spot in October 1964. The band made the first of several trips across the Atlantic that Christmas, where they were rapturously received - Tell Her No went Top 10 - and America has subsequently always held a soft spot for the Zombies.

Popular throughout the rest of the world, the Zombies spent most of 1965 and 1966 touring Europe and America and releasing a slew of impeccable pop singles: She's Coming Home, Whenever You're Ready, Is This The Dream, Remember You were all of an unswervingly high standard.

The group's first album "Begin Here" was issued in April 1965, and later that year the combo appeared in the thriller "Bunny Lake Is Missing". The group paid a visit to the Philippines in spring 1967 expecting a quiet 2 week residency. Instead they were thrown into a Beatle-like maelstrom of wild adulation and fan pandemonium, performing to crowds of 30,000 nightly. Upon their return to the UK, the Zombies signed to CBS and, determined to produce a record themselves, embarked on the making of the classic "Odessey & Oracle" album. It was during the making of "Odessey" however that the Zombies came to a mutual decision that they had gone as far as they wanted to and they disbanded upon the release of the album in April 1968. Almost as an afterthought, a final single, Time Of The Season, trickled out and in supremely ironic fashion became a gigantic international hit almost a year later, once again hitting #l in the States and going on to sell well over a million copies. But having mentally moved on, the Zombies declined to reform to capitalise on this posthumous success. Colin left the music business for a period but was coaxed back into a solo career, which he has pursued ever since to critical and commercial acclaim.Pauland Hugh both became successful A&R men, and of course the group Argent, led by Rod with Chris behind the scenes, scaled commercial heights in the mid-1970s that rivalled the Zombies' own.

The years since have seen the Zombies rightly become one of the most beloved and respected groups of the mid-1960s, and their groundbreaking influence continues to spread. Musicians as diverse as Pat Metheney and Tom Petty have revealed their deep admiration for the band-.-She's Not There has been covered countless times, from Santana to the UK Subs-.-and "Odessey and Oracle" is often referred to as a work of genius. Their catalogue, which, unlike so many other artists of the era they own and benefit from, continues to bring pleasure to millions the world over. This is the first time that this catalogue has been given the respect it deserves.

By Alec Palao

Leave a Reply