Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, two true stalwarts of classy English pop, have reunited after three decades under the moniker of their former outfit, The Zombies. Their reunion has been enthusiastically embraced by the public, thanks to a hot band, some superlative new material, and a stage repertoire that draws heavily upon their much-cherished catalogue of Zombies and solo hits.
In their day, the Zombies were one of the few English bands of the 1960s that enjoyed true global popularity, with two American number ones, chart records throughout the rest of the world, and a deep and lasting affection for their music. For instance, in early 1967, at a time when their career had almost ground to a halt in the UK, the band played to crowds of over 30,000 in the Philippines. And ironically, right after the band split, their final single “Time Of The Season” quickly became their biggest record – US radio plays for the latter song recently passed the four million mark. The Zombies’ first two American singles, “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No”, also remain two of the most-heavily spun vintage hits on American classic-rock radio.
But beyond the statistics, the Zombies had several remarkable attributes that set them apart from other artists. The sheer consistent quality of Rod Argent and Chris White’s songwriting is rivaled only by Lennon and McCartney. Building upon the standard R&B and rock’n’roll influences, the Zombies introduced class and sophistication into a genre not noted for either, and in the most natural, unselfconscious way possible. And the songs were lent an extra dimension by the voice of Colin Blunstone, widely acknowledged as one of the finest singers Britain has ever produced. Rod Argent’s keyboard work is regarded as some of the most accomplished and inventive in rock. The Zombies’ canon belongs on the same shelf as the other major players of the mid-1960s such as the Kinks, Yardbirds and Animals; from their debut “She’s Not There” onwards, there was never at any point a drop in quality. The Zombies’ records are some of the best produced and distinctive in all pop music.
More importantly, the popularity of the Zombies’ music, in keeping with their name, shows no sign of dying. Their unsurpassed oeuvre continues to influence musicians around the world, whether they be original fans the stature of Tom Petty or Pat Metheney, or relative youngsters like REM, Beck, Pavement and Paul Weller. And contemporary cutting edge American and UK acts such as Fountains of Wayne, Spoon, Badly Drawn Boy, Belle & Sebastian and Super Furry Animals are just the latest in a long line of musicians to play homage to the Zombies, for thanks to high profile reissues like the definitive 1997 box set Zombie Heaven, each new pop generation has been able to discover for themselves the undiluted magic of the band’s catalogue.