Al Kuiper, whose Blood, Sweat & Tears helped pioneer jazz-rock, convinced the label if it released Odessa & Oracle, the album would be a hit. And the album is now considered a cornerstone work of baroque pop, and one of rock's greatest cult records.
From the jazz-inspired early singles to an aborted project started after “Time of the Season” temporarily resurrected the group, you'll find some of the best British Invasion, psychedelic rock and baroque pop music ever made. Unlike most of their contemporaries, the Zombies borrowed from jazz greats, incorporating rhythmically tricky melodies not usually heard on pop radio.
This song stalled just outside the Top 100, but it's loaded with the band's classic sounds, including a jazzy electric piano solo and a catchy chorus. After Odessa & Oracle became a belated hit a couple of years after it was recorded, thanks to the Top 10 single “Time of the Season,” keyboardist Rod Argent and bassist Chris White were persuaded to put together a new Zombies' album that featured older unreleased tracks and some new songs recorded by the new Argent-led lineup.
“Imagine the Swan” couldn't crack the Top 100, so the album was shelved for more than three decades. Almost a year after Odessa & Oracle's April 1968 release, one of its songs, “Time of the Season,” hit the Top 10, and the album became one of rock's most heralded “lost” LPs.
Rod Argent based the song on the hits of Burt Zachariah and Hal David from the era, which explains its almost hushed, soft-pop structure. Colin Blackstone's breathy whoa-oh-oh-oh during the second verse remains one of pop's great wordless breaks.
The opening song on Odessa & Oracle was also issued as the album's lead single in November 1967. “Care of Cell 44,” written by Rod Argent as a letter from prison, is the record's longest song, but at almost four minutes, it sweeps by, setting up all the baroque pop that follows.
The Zombies first single came out just as Beatlemania ushered the British Invasion onto the U.S. charts, sending “She's Not There” straight to No. Rod Argent, who wrote “She's Not There,” fills the track with jazz-inspired electric piano that set the Zombies apart from their blues- and R&B-borrowing contemporaries.
Our Top 10 Songs of The Zombies list takes a look at a band from the 1960s that were part of the legendary rock and roll British Invasion of rock bands that traveled from England to the United States during the decade of the 1960s. Along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and so many other bands the Zombies electrified American audiences with a sound that was completely different from the decade of music that the 1950s had spawned.
The legend of the Zombies has been defined by a very small catalog of albums that had a very large impact. Songs like Time of the Season, She’s Not There and Tell Her No inspired countless bands for years.
The Zombies consisted of Colin Blackstone, Rod Argent, Paul Atkinson, Chris White and Hugh Grundy. The band’s early success was based on the release of their debut single “She’s Not There,” in 1964.
Three years after the release of their debut album, The Zombies would return with their masterpiece Odessa and Oracle. Many rock fans probably do not realize that The Zombies returned to the studio many years later and released New World in 1991.
It also included remakes of songs Rod Agent had released in his 70s band Argent. The final Zombies' album to be released as of this writing was issued in 2015 entitled Still Got That Hunger.
If you are not familiar with the band, we hope this article turns you onto to one of classic rock’s most important groups. The EP contained only four racks including a remake of Gershwin’s Summer.
The Zombies' song “Care of Cell 44,” was the opening track to the band’s second album Odessa and Oracle. Those opening guitar chords go right through me every time I hear this great song.
It was a two record set that combined non album tracks, unreleased songs and some of their big hits. In interviews, Rod Argent was quoted as saying that it was a John Lee Hooker song that inspired the lyrics to She’s Not The.
Thirteen years later after the song was released in 1964, the band Santana had a top twenty hit with it in 1977. The classic Zombies' song “Time of the Season,” was released on the Odessa and Oracle album.
The song presents listeners with one of the best musical introductions in classic rock history. The Blacksmiths Arm public house in St Albany, Hertfordshire, where The Zombies first three members of the band, Rod Argent, Paul Atkinson and Hugh Grundy, first came together to jam in 1961 in St Albany, Hertfordshire, England.
Argent wanted to form a band and initially asked his elder cousin Jim Redford to join as a bassist. Colin Blackstone and Paul Arnold joined the other three to form the band in April 1962, while all five members were at school.
However, both Blackstone and Grundy came from Hatfield and both sang in the choir there at St Ethelred's church. Argent was a boy chorister in St Albany Cathedral Choir.
They held their original rehearsals at the Pioneer Club, then situated in Hatfield Road, using equipment lent to them by the Blue tones. They met outside the Blacksmiths Arms pub in St Albany before their first rehearsal and gained their initial reputation playing the Old Verulamians Rugby Club in the same city.
When Argent was asked about the origins of the band's name in a 2015 interview with Formatters journalist J.C. Mack III, Argent said, “Well, we chose that name in 1962 and, I mean, I knew vaguely that they were: sort of, you know, the Walking Dead from Haiti and Colin didn't even really know what they were.” Argent explains, “It was Paul that came up with the name.
Arnold lost interest in the band and chose to leave to become a physician; he was replaced by Chris White. The tune began to catch on in the United States and eventually climbed to number 2 in early December.
It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. L-R: Chris White, Colin Blackstone, Hugh Grundy, Paul Atkinson and Rod Argent. Like many other British groups, the Zombies travelled to the United States to tour on the momentum of their hit single.
Among their early US gigs were Murray the K's Christmas shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theater, where the band played seven performances a day. On 12 January 1965 the band made their first in-person appearance on US television on the first episode of NBC's Hullabaloo and played “She's Not There” and their new single Tell Her No to a screaming, hysterical audience full of teenage girls.
In the UK, the Zombies follow-up single to “She's Not There” was written by Chris White. Penned by Rod Argent, “Tell Her No” became another big seller in 1965, peaking at No.6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March.
As the band's third UK single, “Tell Her No” failed to make the Top 40, peaking at number 42. Subsequent recordings such as “She's Coming Home”, “Whenever You're Ready”, “Is This the Dream”, “Indication” and “Gotta Get a Hold of Myself” failed to achieve the success of the previous two singles (although the Zombies had continued success in Scandinavia and the Philippines, which led to a series of concerts in 1967).
A song by the Zombies released only as a B-side (to “Whenever You're Ready”) in both the US and UK in 1965, I Love You subsequently became a sizeable hit for the group People! The Zombies first UK album, Begin Here (1965) was an interesting mixture of original songs and rhythm and blues cover versions.
Of the eight original tracks, Rod Argent supplied the big attraction, “She's Not There”, the upbeat “Woman”, the atmospheric “I Remember When I Loved Her”, plus “The Way I Feel Inside” which, at 1:28, was the shortest track on the album. It might have been shorter, had not their recording manager and producer Ken Jones added the sounds of footsteps and a coin dropping, which contributed to the feeling of alienation that the song projected.
Bassist Chris White provided “I Can't Make Up My Mind”, the quirky “I Don't Want to Know”, plus the beat “What More Can I Do” which, at 1:38, is the second-shortest cut on the album and contains a simple but distinctive drum riff. The final original was an instrumental written by Ken Jones, “Work 'n' Play”.
The Zombies continued recording original songs through 1965 and 1966, trying to achieve chart success. (Odyssey was accidentally misspelled by Terry Quirk, an art teacher who designed the cover).
The band's budget did not stretch to session musicians, so they used a Electron to fill out their arrangements. According to Argent, they used John Lennon'sMellotron, which had been left in the studio after the Beatles sessions for Sgt.
The album was mixed into the standard mono; however as another concession toward their limited budget, Argent and White (who, due to their songwriting royalties, had earned more than the rest of the members) personally paid for stereo mixes. The change in direction was evident on their first single released by CBS, Care of Cell 44 “, a song about the anticipation felt while waiting for the singer's partner to be released from prison.
Unfortunately, like their previous Decca releases, it failed to reach the charts. With the band experiencing a declining demand for live appearances, they split up after a final gig in mid-December 1967.
Odessa and Oracle, the band's swansong, was released in April 1968 and sold poorly. It was only given a US release because musician Al Kuiper, then signed to Columbia Records, convinced his label of the album's merits.
One of its tracks, Time of the Season “, written by Argent, was released as a single in 1968 and spent a long period as a 'sleeper'. Eventually, in 1969, it grew to become a nationwide hit in the US, peaking in the Hot 100 (Billboard at No.3).
In 1968, Argent and White began working on material for a possible new band when they were approached by CBS to do another Zombies album. Several new tracks were cut with a line-up of Argent, Hugh Grundy, Redford (bass) and Rick Barrett (guitar), and were combined with some old Decca out-takes and demos that were overdubbed and enhanced in sessions at Morgan Studios in London.
Atkinson worked in A&R at Columbia and Grundy joined him there after a brief spell in auto sales. Blackstone started a solo career after a brief period outside the music business, including working in the burglary claims section of an insurance company.
Atkinson retired as a performer and worked as an A&R executive for many years. The original line-up declined to regroup for concerts following the belated American success of “Time of the Season”.
In a scheme organized by Delta Promotions, an agency that also created fake touring versions of The Animals and The Archie's, two fake Zombie line-ups were touring simultaneously in 1969, one hailing from Texas, the other from Michigan. The Texas group featured bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard, soon to be members of OZ Top.
Another group toured in 1988, going so far as to not only trademark the group's name (the real band had let it lapse) but also recruit a bass guitarist named Ronald Hugh Grundy, claiming that original drummer Hugh Grundy had switched instruments. In 1990, Blackstone, White and Grundy briefly reunited as the Zombies with guitarist/keyboardist Sebastian Santa Maria and recorded the album The Return of the Zombies (February 1990), featuring some tracks that were remixed or re-recorded that appeared alongside some new songs the following year on New World (April 1991).
A 1997, 120-track compilation of the original band's work, Zombie Heaven, was released on UK Ace/Big beat. The compilation contains all the band's Decca/Parrot recordings (in mono), the entire Odessa And Oracle LP (in stereo), the material that would have made up the unis sued R.I.P.
On 25 November 1997, all five Zombies reunited at the Jazz Café in London's Camden Town as part of a solo show by Blackstone to perform “She's Not There” and “Time of the Season” to promote the release of Zombie Heaven. Argent spotted Blackstone in the audience while performing at a charity concert for jazz musician John Dank worth and invited him onstage for an impromptu reunion.
This positive experience set the stage for further collaborations to come. The Zombies performing Odessa and Oracle during the “Something Great From ’68’” tour in September 2019 The twosome reunited to play shows together in 2000 under the Colin Blackstone & Rod Argent moniker and moved to the U.S. in 2001.
They recorded an album, Out of the Shadows (2001), and continued playing live shows together into 2004 when they began going out under the name “The Zombies again. An album of new material released in 2004, As Far as I Can See..., received poor-to-scathing reviews from both Pitchfork and Music.
In January 2004, guitarist Paul Atkinson received the President's Merit Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at a benefit concert at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California. The Zombies reunited for the event, which turned out to be Atkinson's last performance with them.
He died later that year on 1 April 2004, in Santa Monica, California, from liver and kidney disease. In 2005, Blackstone and Argent released a DVD and 2-CD album (Live at the Bloomsbury Theater) and continued touring with the Zombies.
To mark the 40th anniversary of Odessa and Oracle, the four surviving original members of the Zombies participated in a three-night series of concerts at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire Theater between 7 and 9 March 2008. Blackstone and Argent's respective websites had advertised that the concert of 8 March was recorded for a CD and/or DVD release later in 2008, and the CD was officially posted by Amazon.com to be pre-sold for a release of 1 July 2008.
Both CD and DVD were officially released in the UK and several countries around the world. In 2010, Ace Records released a series of six 7-inch vinyl EPs.
All the tracks were new to vinyl, with some rarities taken from the Zombie Heaven box set, as well as previously unreleased material. The band set out to tour annually in the US, UK, Canada and Netherlands.
The 2011 tour schedule included Japan, France, Germany, Greece and Israel. In 2012, band members participated in the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the Blacksmith's Arms, a St Albany pub where the Zombies met for their first rehearsal.
On 16 October 2013, the Zombies were announced as nominees for inclusion to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the first nomination for the band since coming into eligibility in 1988. The next year, the band announced that it would embark on a 2015 American tour of the Odessa and Oracle album with White and Grundy returning.
The Zombies sixth album, Still Got That Hunger, produced by Chris Potter, was announced for a release date of 9 October 2015. The album's recording was successfully funded by crowdfunding service PledgeMusic during August 2014.
The Zombies toured the US in the fall of 2015 to promote Still Got That Hunger and were again joined by surviving former members White and Grundy, along with keyboardist Marian Sahara, and White's wife Via Boucher (on backing vocals) to play the entire Odessa & Oracle album. On 30 October 2015, the Zombies made a guest appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
In 2017, the four surviving original members (Colin Blackstone, Rod Argent, Chris White, and Hugh Grundy) re-united to carry out a North American tour marking the 50th anniversary of the recording of Odessa and Oracle. The first stop on this tour was a first-time performance in Jamaica, as the featured artist on the Flower Power Cruise on the Celebrity Summit while in port in Falmouth.
A popular podcast, S-Town, used “A Rose for Emily” as its closing music. This exposure helped The Zombies land a guest appearance on Conan in May 2017.
The band was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October 2017. They were nominated again a year later and were announced as one of seven inductees for the 2019 class in December 2018.
Jim Redford died after a fall on 20 January 2018, aged 76. He was replaced by Siren Koch (from the Danish band The Beatophonics).
The band was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. That year, the three-day outdoor festival “Woodstock 50” was announced, to observe the 50th anniversary of the August 1969 Woodstock festival, at a Watkins Glen, N.Y. auto speedway, with the Zombies as a featured act; however the festival was ultimately cancelled due to financial backers withdrawing.
In May 2019, The Zombies announced a co-headlining tour with Brian Wilson and Al Sardine of The Beach Boys called “Something Great From ’68’” featuring The Zombies performing Odessa and Oracle, in addition to other greatest hits. This tour would also feature the four surviving original members (Colin Blackstone, Rod Argent, Chris White, and Hugh Grundy) in addition to the band's current line-up.
“Interview: The Zombies Rod Argent and Colin Blackstone”. “The Zombies Colin Blackstone talks touring in America, scoring hits in the '60s and how the group got its name”.
^ a b “Paul Atkinson, 58; Zombies Guitarist Became Industry Exec”. ^ a b “The True Story of the Fake Zombies, The Strangest Con in Rock History”.
^ Marian Sahara (Wonder mints / Brian Wilson Band) served as guest player covering the Electron parts on the album. ^ “The Moody Blues Cruise • Coming Soon • Feb 26 – Mar 1 2016”.
^ Zombies Announce Final 'Odessa & Oracle' North American Tour”. ^ “Watch the Zombies Perform “S-Town” Theme “A Rose for Emily” on “Conan” | Pitchfork”.