Thursday 23 March 2017 at 7:00pm
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A recent article on the website Music Aficionado begins, “It’s damn near unfathomable to think that a band can be peaking a half-century after their first gig, but with the Zombies that wouldn’t be far from the truth.” More than fifty years after they became one of the first British Invasion groups to top the U.S. singles charts with the hit “She’s Not There,” and approaching the golden anniversary of their album, Odessey and Oracle, that is acknowledged as one of the classic pop albums of all time, the Zombies continue their remarkable 21st-century resurgence with a North American tour and the release of a lavish coffee-table book. The Spring 2017 trek across the U.S. and Canada, which will continue to England and Europe later next year, includes the final full-album performances of Odessey and Oracle reuniting all four surviving members of the group, Colin Blunstone on lead vocals, Rod Argent on keyboards/vocals, Chris White on bass/vocals, and Hugh Grundy on drums. Along with founding members Blunstone and Argent, the current line-up of the Zombies, celebrating their current release Still Got That Hunger, includes bassist Jim Rodford, guitarist Tom Toomey and Steve Rodford (Jim’s son) on drums.
In 1967 five young men walked in to Abbey Road Studios - #3, tinkered with the gear that was left behind from the previous session (by none other than The Beatles’ recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band), and set out to make an album their own way. Of course, they never dreamed the results would loom so large in their lives. Ironically, although it led to the breakup of the original line-up, Odessey and Oracle produced the group’s biggest hit a year later (“Time of the Season”), and became a musical touchstone for generations to come. 50 years later, it brings the four surviving members back together on stage to perform the album in its entirety for the final time.
The book, which will be published by BMG in March 2017, will be an album-sized (12” X 12”) volume of the lyrics of Odessey And Oracle, as well as many of their other popular songs, handwritten by the authors. Original artwork will accompany the lyrics – from both Terry Quirk who created the iconic cover artwork for Odessey and Oracle, and Vivienne Boucherat, who created individual works for each O&O song, inspired by both the songs and Quirk’s original work. The book’s text will include anecdotes behind the songs and their recording, all from the original members.
Following the breakthrough with their first single “She’s Not There” in 1964 (a record just last year inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame), the Zombies continued to make music whose impact and influence resonate to this day, on songs like “Tell Her No,” “Whenever You’re Ready,” “Just Out of Reach,” and “I Want You Back Again,” and on Odessey and Oracle, released in 1968, which concluded with their biggest hit, “Time of the Season,” a track that has become a generational touchstone, used in numerous ‘60s-set films and television shows to musically illustrate the spirit of that era. In a strange turn of events, by the time that song was going up the charts, the Zombies had disbanded, with Blunstone starting a solo career and Argent forming a new band that bore his name.
It became clear, however, that the final chapter of the Zombies’ story was unwritten, as the boxed set Zombie Heaven chronicled the depth of their creativity, and artists ranging from Tom Petty to M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel (She & Him) brought Zombies songs to new audiences. Blunstone and Argent assembled a new edition of the group. The media excitedly welcomed their return, leading to a 2011 performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
2013-2016 has marked a major resurgence for the band, with a dozen tours across America, England, Europe, Japan and The Philippines (including notable stops at UK’s Glastonbury Fest, NYC’s Central Park SummerStage, Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival and two whirlwind visits to SXSW in Austin), the release of two studio albums (2013’s Breathe Out, Breathe In and 2015’s Still Got That Hunger), the debut on RollingStone.com & VEVO of their first-ever music video for “Any Other Way,” a PBS Special filmed on the legendary Austin City Limits stage, their first Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame nomination, Eminem’s sample/cover version of “Time of the Season” on his comeback album, “She’s Not There” being used in the Keira Knightley TV ads campaign for Coco Chanel, and remarkably, the 2015 release of Still Got That Hunger marked a historical moment for the group, as it debuted on the Billboard album chart at the same time that Odessey and Oracle re-entered the Billboard Vinyl albums chart forty-eight years after its release.
Also in 2015, original members White and Grundy re-joined their former bandmates for select performances of Odessey and Oracle – the first time the album had ever been performed in its entirety in the U.S. - including at a sold-out show in New York City.
Writing about that special event for Rolling Stone, critic David Fricke called it “absolutely triumphant,” and said, “Either half of this night would have been exhilarating in its own right. Together, they were a story still busy being told — in classic-pop history, psychedelic monument, continuing aspiration and enduring friendship.” The magic of that evening and the few other O&O shows was too undeniable to not continue to share it, so the band decided to bring it back one more time for this new set of tour dates.
As Yahoo Music put it, “"With a legacy rivaling that of nearly all of their fellow British Invasion mates — and that company includes the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, and Small Faces — The Zombies have the singles, the albums, and the actual playing chops to rival any band that ever was.” Their distinctive sound made the world take notice with the first notes of “She’s Not There,” and today, they’re still making pop history.
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