F is for Foreigner

Oh, Foreigner. 1984’s Agent Provocateur housed this New York band’s biggest hit, both in the UK and the US, with I Want to Know What Love is. The hype sticker speaks for itself. Oh, Agent Provocateur, that’s the one with I Want to Know What Love is, yeah? Yes, sir or ma’am. You are correct. If you’re unsure, or just need confirmation, you can acquire the definition of love, via means of Foreigner (oh, Foreigner) for as little as a dime from Discogs. No lie! Check out this link. This shit is cheap!

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

30° Somewhere

The Promise Ring’s debut album, 1996’s 30° Everywhere is, was, and will forever be the soundtrack to dark and dreary winter evenings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Originally released on Jade Tree Records in a variety of colors (blue, grey, red, white, yellow…), this 12-track opus is considered an integral part of emo’s second wave. Most scoff at the term emo, and they’re not necessarily wrong, as the term has ballooned into absurd and embarrassing proportions, but this album, this band, at that time… well, there was little better.

Rage Against the Clock

I’ve all but forgotten about Rage Against the Machine these days, but that certainly wasn’t always the case. Their first two studio albums, 1992’s Rage Against the Machine (this) and 1996’s Evil Empire were on constant (near non-stop) rotation during my searching (high school) years. It’s rather difficult to listen to either album and not think of my 13-year-old self riding bikes and shooting hoops… to a steady stream of damn good music (311, NOFX, Ministry, Operation Ivy, and Faith No More come to mind). I broke out Rage the other day after a decades-long hiatus, and it still sounds just as bit as perfect as it did to my adolescent and foolish ears some 26 years ago. Carry that torch, kids.

Blue-Eyed Soul

Two singles emerged from Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, together known as The Righteous Brothers, on their 1963 debut, Now!. (My Babe, and the charted Little Latin Lupe Lu.) The group would find the ear, and subsequent success with legendary murderer and occasional record producer Phil Spector in ’65 for Spector’s label, Phillies Records (no association with the Philly Phanatic is known to exist). The Righteous Brothers would go on to tour with some lesser known bands (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones), until their breakup in 1968. They would reform in 1974, then again in 1981 through to Hatfield’s death in 2003 of an apparent drug overdose. Now that everyone’s in a groovy mood, check out Now!, well, now!

Urban Sound Surgeon

Every once in a while I’ll dig through some of my favorite hip hop tracks and try and source their samples. 4-Ever Fresh released this acappella version of the rare, 1988 track Urban Sound Surgeon that appears in the Handsome Boy Modeling School classic, Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II). In my half-handed search, I discovered a groovy little website called Who Sampled that breaks down samples from various, and namely classic hip hop tracks. Have a look!

Black & White

Light in the Attic released a beautiful remastered double LP of the classic Black Monk Time back in 2009 (original, Germany-only pressing from 1966 fetches a hefty $1500 price tag). Then came a nifty collaboration with Newbury Comics of a limited white vinyl pressing from 2016 limited to only 300 copies. Whichever your color of preference, Black Monk Time is essential spinning material.

Sealed with a Plant

I must have purchased this copy of Robert Plant’s 1985 album, Shaken ‘N’ Stirred quite a few years back, because I just realized this morning that my copy is sealed. Near mint copies go for a whopping $2 online, so we’ll have to open ‘er up and give ‘er a spin sometime soon. Solo Robert Plant from the early 80s is… not great, if my recollection is accurate, but anything he does is still well deserving of a good home.

Survivors

Presented here is a live album featuring three unquestionable legends: Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The album, containing 12 songs, was recorded in West Germany back in 1981 when all three artists were on tour. The collaboration was an improvised little piece of country music history as Perkins and Lewis, during their night off, joined Cash on stage for what was originally intended to be a Cash-only performance. The result, is three Sun Record kings performing the songs that made them famous. Thanks again for the folks for this little gem. The Survivors comes highly recommended.

New Worlds

We lucked out in finding New Worlds (Bill Murray, Jon Vogler and Friends) for about half off the (slightly overpriced) retail sticker of $25.99. This 2018 Record Store Day exclusive release of the 2017 compact disc was sold out at our local brick and mortar back in April, so I was pleased to see the discounted online price for this classic, double LP. Current copies on Discogs go for only $11.99, so order up, kids!

Costa

Back in 1968, record producer and conductor Dominick P. Costa (Don) released a 10-track album of instrumental Simon and Garfunkel songs titled, Don Costa’s Instrumental Versions of Simon and Garfunkel. All the hits are here (Feelin’ Groovy, Mrs. Robinson, I Am A Rock, etc.), and as a whole, Don Costa’s Instrumental Versions of Simon and Garfunkel is a welcoming and approachable take on these unforgettable 1960s classics. Certainly not one for a frequent spin, these 10-tracks come in handy when the subtle weight of S&G have hit their limits.

Business as Usual

Men at Work debuted in 1981 with Business as Usual. With the help of two, knockout singles (Who Can it Be Now? and Down Under), it’s (fairly) easy to see how BaU spent 15 weeks at the No. 1 spot on the US Billboard 200. One of the (if not the) most successful Australian-released pop albums, Business as Usual would serve as the band’s high water mark, and would be one of only three studio albums released (1983’s Cargo, and 1985’s Two Hearts). If in the mood, she still holds up, some 37 years later.

Protector for Life

Good records (and to a certain extent, the bad ones too) need comfortable, protective, and in this case, relatively dapper sleeves. Pfantone, it appears, deals more in the preamp world these days, but back in the day, they were successful manufacturers of long wear, no tear, poly record sleeves. Pimping a lifetime product is always a ballsy move, but Pfantone has certainly, and without question, pulled off this ambitious claim. For quality, and yes, stylish record care, keep Pfantone in mind.

Melting the Ice Queen

I was heavy into Oxford Collapse for a solid, yet brief five-or-so years. This now defunct Brooklyn indie rock trio released only a few handfuls of records during their brief existence, including this, 2004’s Melting the Ice Queen. Presented here is The Workshop Edit of the title track, which is also featured on the band’s debut EP from 2002 (compact disc only), Oxford Collapse, and their first studio effort, 2004’s Some Wilderness. As their debut was the only studio full-length NOT fortunate of a vinyl release, the only way you can get this queen on wax is right here.

Just One Fits

Ministry’s 2001 greatest hits album (appropriately titled Greatest Fits) received its first vinyl release via means of Run Out Groove last month. Double, colored, 180g vinyl, this 13-track monster is considered the only vinyl pressing to include the band’s contribution to Steven Spielberg’s A.I. film, What About Us?. Over the past several months we’ve seen Ministry do a fantastic job of releasing limited, and very often first-time albums on vinyl. Certainly, nobody is complaining here.