Of all the great British rock acts of the “60s, I have always felt that the Zombies never really got their due. Their first hit “She’s Not There” remains a classic rock staple, as does “Time of the Season,” but there was a great deal more to this band than just those two songs. “Time of the Season” was pulled from their 1968 Odessey & Oracle album, recorded right next door to where The Beatles were laying down Sgt. Pepper’s, at Abbey Road. The misspelling of Odessey was unintentional by the way. It seems that the cover artist made the mistake, and since the lettering was so integral to the artwork, they left it that way.
It was a banner year in 1968 for rock, with albums such as Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones, Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix, and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s self-titled debut (among many others) seeing release. In the wake of such a flood of recordings, Odessey was somewhat overlooked, hit single or not. The ensuing years have been kind to it however. Among fans of psychedelic music, it has taken its rightful place as a classic.
When The Zombies broke up, both vocalist Colin Blunstone, and keyboardist Rod Argent went on to achieve significant solo successes. In 1972, Blunstone hit the Top 20 with “Say You Don’t Mind,” and followed up with “I Don’t Believe in Miracles,” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” 1972 saw Argent scoring big with “Hold Your Head Up.”
In 2011, for an invited crowd of 120 people at the Metropolis Studios in London, The Zombies played a 19-song set. This has just been released as Live at The Metropois, London, in a DVD/CD combo package. Of the original Zombies quintet, only Argent and Blunstone remain, but new recruits Jim Rodford (bass), Tom Toomey (guitar), and Steve Rodford (drums) are more than up to the task at hand. With a mix of Zombies songs, plus Blunstone’s and Argent’s solo hits, it was a night to remember.
The set opens with “I Love You,” a wonderful pop song which shows that the years have been very kind to Colin Blunstone’s voice. For a band celebrating its 50th anniversary, the fact that the guy can still hit the high notes is pretty impressive. As mentioned, Odessey and Oracle is The Zombies acclaimed masterpiece, and they acknowledge this with a six-song “set within a set” segment. They perform “A Rose for Emily;” “Care of Cell 44;” “This Will Be Our Year;” “Beechwood Park;” “I Want Her, She Wants Me;” and “Time of the Season” midway through, which works very well.
Although the song “Tell Her No” certainly has its fans, for some reason I never see it spoken of with what I consider to be the proper reverence it deserves. I think “Tell Her No” is one of the greatest pop songs I have ever heard. They do a nice job of it here, and again Blunstone hits the high notes surprisingly well.
Rod Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” is one of those anthems that could have only come in the early ’70s, and gets a big response from the crowd. The main portion of the set ends with “She’s Not There,” which reaffirms the fact that Blunstone’s voice is still in great shape. Argent’s very unique organ-playing style is also a highlight. The actual finale is a short take on the Gershwin tune “Summertime,” which apparently has a special significance to Argent and Blunstone as it was one of the first songs they ever played together.
The 19-song concert runs 72 minutes. As for bonus features on the DVD, there is a 13-minute interview segment featuring Blunstone and Argent about the history of the band. Like all of the Live at the Metropolis collections, the package contains both a DVD and a CD of the concert, plus an informative booklet with essays discussing the history of the group and the show itself. For fans of The Zombies, this set is a real treat.