High Fidelity (aka “Barry, the Door!”)

Now, I was certain I’d already posted about this seminal soundtrack, but a quick site search conflicts with my shady memory. Originally released in accompaniment with the film in 2000, this 2015 colored vinyl version was a Record Store Day Black Friday, 15th Anniversary release from November 2015. There also appears to be a red vinyl version, limited to 500 copies “pressed exclusively for Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in L.A.” (Thanks, Discogs.com). The only prior vinyl version came from Germany or the UK, and were extremely limited (not to mention fetch a hefty price online). 2016 black vinyl versions fetch for around $20, so options a-plenty.

R.I.P.

So, I’ve wanted to transcribe the back cover to The Zombies’ (now legit) follow-up to Odessey and Oracle as I felt the band’s own explanation of what R.I.P. is will better suit those needing to know than me trying to piece together any sort of sloppy, half-baked narrative. So, without further ado, here is, in its entirety, the explanation of The Zombies’ R.I.P.

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America’s love affair with The Zombies began in September 1964 with the release of, “She’s Not There,” and has more or less ebbed and flowed ever since. The song found almost immediate popularity on US regional radio charts and in October reached the national Billboard singles chart, rising to #2. In their homeland, the disc had peaked at #12 and The Zombies quickly earned the distinction of being more popular in the States. As proof, their follow-up release, “Tell Her No,” registered similarly, reaching #6 in the US and #42 in the UK. It would be their last UK chart single, leaving little room to redress the balance of their American popularity.

Despite radio and television appearances, two stateside visits and a slew of impressive singles on Parrot label, The Zombies also hit a commercial wall in America by the end of 1965. in 1966, they no longer bothered to invade the colonies and throughout 1967 they focused on recording an impressive long player, Odessey And Oracle. By 1968, they quietly disbanded due to the continued lack of interest in their fine recorded and live work.

As for their stateside record released, they seem to be well and truly buried. Following one single on Columbia (#Care Of Cell 44″), The Zombies’ new material was moved to the Date label. This seemed like the bitter end until a third single from the album, “Time Of The Season,” began picking up regional airplay in October 1968, long after it had been forgotten by the band and their label. Through the winter of 1968, it rose from the dead and by March 1969 had reached #3 nationally. As a result, Odessey & Oracle was also reissued in a revised album jacket and crept into the album charts the same month (reaching a high of #95).

Behind the scenes, The Zombies’ key songwriters, Rod Argent & Chris White, had made significant progress during 1968 to demo new material and were on the verge of launching a new band when this success lit up their phone lines. The Date label wanted a follow-up and fast. Despite the demand, it was unlikely that the original Zombies could be revived given that the other members had quickly moved on from music. Vocalist Colin Blunstone worked in insurance, guitarist Paul Atkinson focused on computers and drummer Hugh Grundy tried auto sales. Meanwhile, in the United States a group of imposters assuming the name of The Zombies toured the country, shamelessly riding on the success of “Time Of The Season.”

“We would never get together again,” remarked lead vocalist Colin Blunstone in February 1969, “we’ve all agreed on that. It was  put to us, but we decided not to. There would be complications with contracts if we wanted to reform. it was not a case of me not wanting to join them, it was a mutual decision.”

However, no contractual issues prevented Argent & White from returning to the studio to record new material under the name The Zombies. At Morgan Studios in December 1968, they taped six new masters (“Imagine The Swan,” “Conversations Off Floral Street,” “Smokey Day,” “She Loves The Way They love Her,” “Girl Help Me” and “I Could Spend The Day”) and subsequently dusted off outtakes from past Zombies sessions spanning 1967-1966 with engineer Gus Dudgeon.

“Well,” explained Colin Blunstone in a rare interview with the UK music paper Top Pops published in March 1969, “CBS (Columbia/Date) wanted an album for America, so we used old tracks which had never been released. I sing on one side of the L.P. We brought the tapes up-to-date by adding certain things and taking away others. It sounds very complicated, but I think it turned out well.”

The “certain things” added where orchestration, backing vocals, additional keyboards and, in the case of “Walking In The Sun,” a new lead focal from Colin (who was now coaxed out of retirement and poised for a comeback under the name Neil McArthur with the revamped revival of “She’s Not There”). This album – evenly split between the new and the old – was given the clever title of R.I.P. and delivered to Date in early 1969.

Sadly, this project met its demise through commercial indifference, after a couple of pilot singles – “Imagine The Swan” and “If It Don’t Work Out” – failed to excite buyers (despite some snazzy cartoon promo ads). Although it undoubtedly features some of their finest recordings, this is the first legitimate issues of the R.I.P. album as it was originally intended in the United States. And so it seems that The Zombies, one of the finest groups to emerge from the 1960s, have gone on to an even more beautiful afterlife.

– Andrew Sandoval

& Slow

Earlier, back in 2015, we touched upon the much anticipated release of Lead Into Gold’s 2015 “official” single from 1991, Low & Slow, and, like a fine wine, this 3-track 12″ has gotten better with age. Lead Into Gold has since released another, 3-track 12″ (this year’s A Savage Gift), so I’m hoping that a good response will force some more, dynamic industrial noise from Paul Ion Barker. (Raises glass) Here’s hoping!

Freebee for Me, B

I’m looking forward to spinning the freebee record I acquired via means of a recent bunked Discogs order. 2015’s Tough Love, Hard Feelings by Loud Boyz is “labeled” as punk, but I’ve never heard of them. Apparently, this blank vinyl pressing is limited to only 400 copies. Groovy. Free music, however, should never be scoffed at… unless it’s modern country… or anything Madonna related. Send that shit straight back!

Time? Astonishing!

Kool Keith side projects are hit or miss (Nogatco Rd., Black Elvis, Tashan Dorrsett). But one thing is certain with each and every one of them, they’re all adventurous bursts of psychotic observations over (often) cool, baby-makin’ beats. Time? Astonishing! isn’t Dr. Octagonecolgyst (Dr. Octagon), First Come, First Served (Dr. Dooom), or even Project Polaroid, but it’s (very) laid back, classic Kool Keith, and worthy of a spin and a purchase. Keeping up with all of Mr. Keith’s aliases is exhausting, something I’m sure this legendary MC gets a maniacal chuckle over.

 

The Daredevil of Jazz

Super excited about our latest acquisition, the sure-to-be classic, Jazz Daredevil by none other than (H.) Jon Benjamin. I knew nothing about this release until about a week ago (he wrote shamefully), but having been a fan of Mr. Benjamin since my high school days (Dr. Katz,  Professional Therapist), I scoured the internet searching (successfully) for a reasonably priced copy. Not paying the $225 some dude on Discogs is asking. You, sir, are crazy! Anyway, we’ll spin her tonight (or tomorrow), depending on the breaks. If you’re unfamiliar with this “concept” album, have a peek at the trailer. Yes, there’s a trailer, and yes, it’s as every bit of amazing that you think it is.

Hi-Fi

Hi-FiFinally, a reasonably priced vinyl version of the Original Soundtrack to High Fidelity. It only took 15 years, but this Record Store Day Black Friday exclusive was well worth the wait. The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, The Beta Band, and The Thirteenth Floor Elevators to name only a few rampant cuts covering four sides of wax make for a damn good compilation album. This album is best enjoyed while accompanied by Johnny Cash’s autobiography, Cash By Johnny Cash.

Surf Classics of the Modern Persuasion

SurfModern Surf Classics by Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake is both a presumptuous title, and spot effin’ on. (Insert broken record comment here), anything John Reis puts out is an unquestionable classic. This incarnation of instrumental grandiose surf rock was classic in the minds of the artists, classic during this album’s recording, classic upon its release, and classic some near 9 months later. The closing hymn is my fav (Sets of Fire), but the album as a whole breeds water-loving twang-rock with plenty of energy to spare. Summer may be over (finally), but with Modern Surf Classics, the waves are always honest.

Deception

WAXTreading thin ice here, so as not to bite the hand that feeds, or some type idiom that some deem appropriate here, but the first day of Los Angeles’ record fair dubbed, Wax The Los Angeles Record Fair, was, although wholeheartedly welcomed (obviously), a severe letdown. Yeah, well, what the shit could you have done better, you POS nobody, nothing head! Fair enough, I’d respond. Crosley Records, for one, would have no presence at said event whatsoever. As far as I’m concerned, and usability backs me up, anything sold at Urban Outfitters need not exist within the meticulous and clinically obsessed lives of record collectors, and anywhere they would frequent. I made a point to walk past that (Crosley) booth with a fierce and cool stride not seen in the great county of Los Angeles (Ventura County, well, that’s a horse of another color, altogether). $1200 priced Elvis Presley 45s baking in the Los Angeles heat, bubbling in the shadows of the (outdated) Capitol Records building, to me, does not make any lick of sense. As an aside, where the organization (WAX) and vendor shirt prices are fixed at an already outrageous $20, why, Capitol Records of Los Angeles, CA, are you charging an astronomical $27 for your damn logo on a solid color? The take away from this event was, at least for me: STEAL YOUR MUSIC! Thanks, but you’re fooling no one. If you’re not going to do it right, then please God, almighty… DON’T DO IT AT ALL!

Lead Into Vinyl

GoldLead Into Gold, wait for it… on gold vinyl! Finally, an official vinyl release of Lead Into Gold’s (Paul Barker) Low and Slow 12″! Previously only existing as a test pressing (roughly only five copies), this gold vinyl release of the now 24 year old record is limited to 500 copies and is sold directly through the label, Wax Trax! Records. Sure, $16 is a bit much to pay for four tracks, but new Lead Into Gold certainly warrants excessive spending.

Clear No More

ClearNoMoreAlthough the “have yet to listen to” pile is dwindling, there still rests a bevy of killer albums waiting to join the fold, and Faith No More’s Sol Invictus sits atop them all. I pre-ordered this band site clear vinyl edition back in May, then it went on backorder. Presumably an issue with the pressing plant, or that’s what the email said. Whatever the reason for the delay, be it manufacturing or the lack of free time, Sol Invictus spins its virgin voyage tonight!

More Rush

Rushmore_LabelFinally, the birth of my lifelong Kinks obsession gets a proper vinyl release. As with so many other groundbreaking introductions to inspirational and root-forming suggestions, this film, Wes Anderson’s 1998 released Rushmore, was a lifelong suggestion, introduced to me by a friend we’ll call MM. We’d seen The Royal Tenenbaums in the theater together, and shared a wall where Rushmore’s official movie poster hung prominently. Rushmore, the soundtrack, much (Rush) more than the film, garnishes so much historical weight, it’s at some times difficult to acknowledge that this day, a day in which the soundtrack to Rushmore on vinyl, is finally a reality.

File under: Too Good to Be True.

The Cover of Plumbs

PlumbsI very rarely purchase full priced albums solely on their cover art having not heard a lick of the music, but with Damaged Bug’s Cold Hot Plumbs, I had to take chance. The music is good, falling under the stoned-out-experiment-electro umbrella, but with this release, my eyes are much happier than my ears. Frame worthy for sure, yet a little unnerving, and I like that.