A few days ago (he chuckles to himself) we touched upon the recently acquired 8-track of Odessey & Oracle by The Zombies, and today we’re showcasing their most recent vinyl release with this Record Store Day Black Friday picture disc exclusive. Virgin picture discs, in fact, do not skip, at least this one doesn’t, and the backside features artwork closer to the US reissue (close up of the little blue guy at 6 o’clock… reference here). The vote? Oh yeah, vote! The Zombies are up for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Voting closes on December 9th, so don’t forget to show your support to this (and four other) seminal bands!
When this shy and elusive beauty popped up on eBay a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity to welcome this seminal album to the ever-growing 8-track collection. Though the white whale is still the 8-track of The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (I’ve been searching for close to five years!), The Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle is a very close second, and greatly deserving of this outdated, and warm-sounding format. This now brings the O&O total to 4x records, and 1x 8-track, for those keeping score (all one of me).
Mainly just a post for the photo, but I’ll say, without a hint of hesitation, that as long as Newbury Comics keeps pressing exclusive vinyl releases of Odessey & Oracle, I’ll continue buying them. Maybe I’ve made this statement before… come to think of it, sure… I have. The Zombies have been nominated again (their fourth nod) to the rock and roll hall of fame. Fingers, toes, and wires crossed, they make it this year. They’re clearly deserving of the offer.
That’s the official vinyl color for this recent pressing (May 25th) of Odessey and Oracle by British chaps, The Zombies. Technicolour Explosion. (Yet) another Newbury Comics exclusive (limited to 1000 copies), this gorgeous reissue feels like 180 gram vinyl, though this perk isn’t noted anywhere in the item’s description. This is now our third version of this essential album, with (at least) one more to come… the US alt cover reissue from 1969.
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.
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
I’m still contemplating this Newbury Comics exclusive for The Zombies’ Greatest Hits. Limited to only 500 pressings, this mono, single record contains all the classics you’d think of when someone mentions The Zombies, in new, remastered form. For more information, have a look at Newbury’s site here.
The only other album that I’ve ever heard to legitimately rival The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968, The Kinks) is, of course, Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies (1968). Newbury Comics did an exclusive run back in 2015 of 1000 on… let me look it up because, you know, accuracy… “Red, Blue & Yellow Haze” vinyl. It’s no longer available on Newbury’s site (though I highly recommend their limited run exclusives), but as with most anything, it can be found over at Discogs. If you’ve got the green for some red, blue and yellow, we suggest this amazing and limited reissue.
So, it APPEARS, that The Zombies will end their Odessey & Oracle tour finale in Los Angeles at an undisclosed location in late April of next year. 50 years, kids! I’ve already asked for this day off from work (a Saturday), so book your flights and sweet talk the in-laws to watch the little ones, because The Zombies are coming to town…
Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger
George Thorogood & the Destroyers – More George Thorogood & the Destroyers
Minutemen – The Punch Line
The Statler Brothers – The Best of the Statler Brothers
Tim Hardin – This is Tim Hardin (mono)d
Underworld – MMM Skyscraper, I Love You
I was excited to rather recently discover that Rod Argent had continued his music career after the disbanding of The Zombies. Having written the serene The Way I Feel Inside, the colossal hit She’s Not There, the catchy Tell Her No, and the masterpiece Time of the Season, expectations are certainly high for 1969’s Argent. Having not heard anything by Argent (the band, not the man), I’m confident tonight’s spin will be an advantageous one, or should I say Argentageous? No, no I shouldn’t.
This 1967 psych-rock album is the first from Long Island’s Vanilla Fudge, and would serve as the band’s most successful offering, peaking at #6 on the Billboard charts. With only three originals on the album Illusions of My Childhood, Pts. 1-3 (all instrumentals), Vanilla Fudge contains far-out and refreshing covers by The Zombies (She’s Not There), The Beatles (Eleanor Rigby and Ticket to Ride), The Supremes (You Keep Me Hangin’ On), and Cher (Bang Bang). For a refreshing take on classic 60’s flare, try some Vanilla Fudge in your groove diet.
For reasons far beyond my level of feeble comprehension, here is the back (ass-cover) to The Zombies’ 1965 debut, Begin Here. Mind you, this is just a reissue (180 gram, half speed mastering at Abbey Road), but Mr. Rod Argent’s humbling write-up has all the makings for an entry worthy of withstanding the tests of time. Have a read, then a listen (if you’re already in the know). The Zombies : Begin Here…
I passed on the opportunity to snatch the 2013 Record Store Day reissue of the US version of The Zombies’ debut album (titled The Zombies in the states, Begin Here in the UK). I didn’t think much for the bastardized cover, and although the album is obviously essential listening material, I opted to hold out for the original UK art. At my local hit-or-miss brick-and-mortar the other day I found this amazing gem, a UK import of the 2014 limited edition reissue. If Heinz ketchup has taught me anything, it’s that good things come to those who wait, so I feel I made the educated decision. Plus, this copy sounds flippin’ amazing! Side A is unstoppable, and it’s sad to fathom that this amazing band only lasted for two albums. Next on the “need” list, their 2nd, and last album, 1968’s Odessey and Oracle.