Thursday, October 16, 2014

Music Review - The Zombies - The Singles Collection

Now HERE'S THE STUFF! What a solid band with too few albums. Dig it, bro.
A few years ago while listening to the oldies station, "Time of the Season" was playing and even though I'd heard this song countless times before, the signature bass line really stood out this time. So began my quest to find out about The Zombies, culminating in the purchase and severe enjoyment of The Singles Collection. The CD contains all fourteen of their singles, both A and B sides (kids, ask your parents if you need this concept explained) covering their entire career. The Zombies only had two or three really big hits but were constant favorites of the critics. Since I'm technically a critic, I'm legally obligated to like them for fear of being disbarred from the union. What set The Zombies apart from the rest of the bands that came over with The British Invasion was their heavy use of keyboards, minor keys, jazzy feel, and their ability to consistently write catchy yet complex songs.

The CD kicks off with their first big hit "She's Not There" a song with some great organ playing that paved the way for The Doors, plus some great interplay between the bass and an inventive drum part. The sound of The Zombies is difficult to capture because they did so many so well. There's the near-Rolling Stones sound of "Woman", the early Beatles feel of "You Make Me Feel Good" and the Supremes R&B of "She's Coming Home". "Indication", a later single, moves along like a speeding semi-truck with a rollicking, fun bass line before ending with a proggish melody on the guitar. In contrast "Beechwood Park" is a gloomy, melancholy minor-key ode to erstwhile days spent in Beechwood Park. "Conversation Off Floral Street", the only instrumental on the CD, flips the beat around like Brubeck's "Take Five" with lots of upbeat organ and a relaxed, pastoral bridge. Of course, The Zombies scored their biggest hit, "Time of the Season" after they broke up. While there aren't any songs on the CD quite like this classic where more is said with what is not played that what is, every song on this album deserves more airplay than it received. The bass is inventive and prominent, nearly as much as the plentiful keyboards, and the songs take unexpected twists, using chords outside the traditional rock repertoire. For those who tread the musical road less traveled, this CD is a lesson in expanding boundaries. For everyone else, it's just chock full-o-great songs.

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, March 2001.

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