Thursday, September 1, 2016

Labor Day Weekend concert best bet: The Zombies

Looking for something to do this holiday weekend? Here's a Best Bet for classic rock fans in Southern California and beyond...

The Zombies original incarnation was short-lived, but the British Invasion band still notched three top 10 pop singles in the mid-to-late Sixties. All of them made an indelible mark and are universally considered classics today: "She's Not There" (#2), "Tell Her No" (#6) and "Time of the Season" (#3). Ironically, the last hit arrived after the band had broken up.

During the '70s, leaders Colin Blunstone (vocals) and Rod Argent (organ/piano/vocals) moved onto solo careers with varying levels of success. Blunstone briefly fronted a reunited Zombies alongside '60s members Hugh Grundy and Chris White for 1991's "New World," which also saw Argent and original guitarist Paul Atkinson making guest appearances. Flash forward a decade and Blunstone and Argent finally recorded an entire studio album together again; the result was 2001's "Out of the Shadows." 

A few years later, they returned to using The Zombies name on "As Far as I Can See" and took a larger gap between unveiling new material until 2011's "Breathe Out, Breathe In." Around the same time, Neko Case and Nick Cave covered "She's Not There" for the "True Blood Soundtrack, Vol. 3."

In the interim, artists such as Tom Petty, Beach House, Beck, Fleet Foxes, She & Him, Black Angels and Belle and Sebastian have either cited The Zombies as an influence, recorded or played the veteran Brits' tunes live. And The Zombies' 1968 LP "Odessey and Oracle" is widely regarded as a masterpiece.

The current Zombies lineup - augmented by bassist Jim Rodford (ex-Argent, Kinks), his son Steve on drums and guitarist Tom Toomey - did three American tours in 2013 and got on the short list nomination to the 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

They instituted a successful PledgeMusic campaign, returned to the studio and put out the aptly-named "Still Got That Hunger" via The End Records last year.

It was produced by Chris Potter, best known for his work with The Rolling Stones, The Verve and The Feeling).

Standout tracks include the bright pop of tune "New York" (a reminiscence about Argent's first trip to the city and early influences like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis), "I Want You Back Again" (a modernized 1965 Zombies single), the relaxed "And We Were Young Again," a rollicking "Maybe Tomorrow" (which name checks The Beatles) and "Never Get Over You."

Upcoming California shows:

9/2 The Rose, Pasadena
9/3 The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano
9/4 Libby Bowl, Ojai
9/5 Sausalito Arts Festival
9/7 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz
9/8 Belly Up, Solana Beach
9/15 McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica - Argent/Blunstone only (sold out)

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