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Articles Home » 2011 Articles » Zombies, The (featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent) - 2011 Breathe Out, Breathe In
 
Zombies, The (featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent) - 2011 Breathe Out, Breathe In



ARTIST: Zombies, The (featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent)
ALBUM: Breathe Out, Breathe In
LABEL: Red House Records
SERIAL: REDHCD 6
YEAR: 2011

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Rod Argent - vocals, piano, hammond organ, wurlitzer, electric piano, mellotron * Colin Blunstone - lead vocals * Jim Rodford - bass, vocals * Steve Rodford - drums, percussion, toontrack superior drummer * Tom Toomey - acoustic and electric guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Breathe Out, Breathe In * 02 Any Other Way * 03 Play It For Real * 04 Shine On Sunshine * 05 Show Me The Way * 06 A Moment In Time * 07 Christmas For The Free * 08 Another Day * 09 I Do Believe * 10 Let It Go

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.thezombies.net


Background
2012 saw this UK group celebrate 51 years in the music industry, that's even older than me! This achievement was marked in a number of different ways, the first being a blue plaque placed on The Blacksmith's Arms in St Albans where they first met in 1961. These Blue Plaques are presented by English Heritage in order to commemorate the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings where they lived or worked. This was especially poignant as they prepared to celebrate by going out on a worldwide tour. Ok, my only acknowledgement was of course the song 'She's Not There', in fact I seemed to remember the UK Subs version more (or how about the Santana version?.. Ed), although I did buy the classic 'Odyssey And Oracle' a few years ago, only realising its true beauty playing it more regularly due to.. well I'll explain why shortly. Yes I was well aware of Rod Argent, but really only due to the Kiss destroying 'God Gave Rock N Roll To You' and the inclusion of Russ Ballard in Argent, which he left of course and achieved a great career as a song writer ('Silhouette In The Dark', 'Since You're Been Gone' etc), while the name of Colin Blunstone less so. Before the concert I had forgotten about his involvement in the Alan Parsons Project and the AOR super group, Keats but remembered his cover of the Jimmy Ruffin classic 'What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted' (all together now..)..'who had love that's now departed..'

So what was I doing at a Zombies concert at The Stables in Wavendon? Well it was only because my friend had a spare ticket and rather letting it go to waste, he offered me to join him. Why not? I was impressed by the venue after an earlier visit to see UFO. So off I went listening to 'Odyssey' and I had a box set of Argent stuff, but I didn't realise that they had just released an album the previous year, being this one. Really I didn't even know what they looked like in person, which did create a problem. Who was the long haired bloke, bit scruffy with jeans and the most black eyes I've seen trying to push past me as I was making my way into the auditorium? (look mate all the seats are numbered!) Minutes later there I was sitting in the front row, with that 'scruffy bloke' now on the keyboards, the same bloke I saw minutes before. Yes it was Mr Argent, this time pushing amazing sounds out of his organ, rather than pushing past some nerdy accountant. OK, even though it seems I am doing a concert review, the real purpose is to discuss this album, which of course I went out and ordered the next day.


The Songs
The opening 'Breathe Out Breathe In' with a 'theatre' style to the song (I understand Rod spent much of his career in the theatre), plus it has a calling to Bobby Caldwell. It is like a black and white movie that has been brought into the 21st century, to show what it would look like in colour, bright, clear and absorbing. Not for the first time it is when Rod and Colin sing together that it really re-enforcing's that feeling of quality, fulfilment and happiness.

Few times in life when you hear a song and know immediately it's going to be a great, that is how I first felt when I heard 'Any Other Time' at the concert; this made an instant AOR impression. One of the best songs many AOR lovers have never heard? Sometimes it appears to have too many words in a line, but Colin is able to manipulate his voice, up and down, slow to fast to provide the correct phasing and fit all the words before running out of breathe, or time. It has the right musical vowels and consonants to fit in perfectly.

'Play It For Real' this time is led by Rod, while I have heard it said that it has a likeness to 'Hey Bulldog' by The Beatles, well not having heard that said song I don't know, one minute just going to you tube, chat amongst yourselves.. yes 'Not arf'!, a tribute I would offer as a reason for the closeness.

'Shine On Sunshine' is like an English summer day, a meadow of flowers with bees buzzing from one bloom to another, or an afternoon spent watching re-runs of TV serials like 'Lovejoy' or 'Pie In The Sky'. This is reminiscent of early Colin Blunstone albums, although the track was written by Argent and Colin White.

Just listen to Colin on 'Show Me The Way', what a voice; it is pushed out of the way by Rod (but in a nice way). He is really banging out the lyrics with passion (something lacked by any English footballer) without the need for expletives (something an English or any modern footballer does not lack the use of) this is downright sleaze, the drive is excellent, the sirens of Colin voice re-appears with more vigour.

'A Moment In Time' began life as a guitarist (Tom Toomey) doodle that grew into a portrait. It's way better than the latest Turner Prize winner, and would grace any musical gallery. Special mention of the piano, yes a piano solo, just amazing rolling thunder, is just so beautiful. Song wise it is quite similar to what Mark Spiro would spark together.

I only can see one drawback to this album, being 'Christmas For The Free', mainly because it mentions Christmas, although far better than Queen's 'Thank God It's Christmas', well let's face it not a good indicator of a good song, but this does also contain links to these Great ones and The Beatles again.

Maybe that's just a hiccup because 'Another Day' is epic. Sliding alongside John Miles 'Music' for support, just listen to that at the start - listen again. The most melodic rock song on the album, it leaps onto a higher level of song writing, floating on AOR wishes, it's like something that would had appeared on a Keats album, although it is composed by Argent.

'I Do Believe' is haunting and beautiful. Slow, moving, Colin's voice is pure melodic gold. Kick back to the sixties, mixing old Zombies sound with The Animals and in some way ripe for a scene in a motion picture. It reminds me of the great Procol Harum especially with the addition of the Hammond organ which is also prevalent on the conclusion of the album with 'Let It Go' which is a stirring anthem, probably would have been used in the football terraces in the 70's or the music used in the closing credits of a play.


In Summary
When a publication like Record Collector who in the majority gave this a favourable review but stated that it included 'a couple of generic AOR crimes', you know at that point these crimes would generally be very appealing to this musical criminal. While they don't mention them by name I'm guessing they mean 'Any Other Time' and maybe 'Another Day' because these are great AOR tunes and if that's a crime to like these, then I'm guilty. Say, a year ago if you would have asked me do I consider Rod Argent as one of the best songwriters in the UK? or maybe that Colin Blunstone being one of the best vocalists ever to come from the UK? Well probably not, but in a short space of time I see no reason why these guys should not be considered. I have definitely come to the conclusion they are the most underrated in their field, and really they should be held in higher esteem. The same can be said of the other members of the group, Jim Rodford (Rod's cousin) an expert on the bass, who has provided years of service to the likes of The Kinks and a member of Phoenix. Actually at the concert it was the first time I could hear a bass guitar so clear. His son Steve Rodford on drums plus Tom Toomey on guitar are important members to the current set up. When I first wrote this review it was like how Jack Kerouac wrote his novel 'On The Road' being one continuous long essay extolling the greatness, the skill, that's how much I enjoyed this album, I couldn't stop. The Zombies have a tradition of excellence, a tradition of making albums that are interesting, few tracks repeat themselves in style, if they needed terms of reference it would be that individuality is stressed as a requirement. Sure, they are the elder statements of British rock music, even the 'Vagabonds of the Eastern Counties of England', now Rod, fancy a game of Tennis?


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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on January 20 2013 13:09:18
Sounds very interesting, notwithstanding the epic review Chris!
#2 | Eric on January 20 2013 13:09:32
Great, great album! Very English and proof once again that old guys can still deliver the goods!
 
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