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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisOne of the most beloved British bands of all time spent last year celebrating its 50th anniversary overseas with an extensive tour and new studio album. This summer finds reunited founders Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent taking a victory lap throughout America, including a packed appearance at the relatively new suburban Chicagoland venue Viper Alley (an intimate, hospitable and acoustically inviting club reminiscent of Park West or House of Blues).
Throughout 100 engaging minutes, the band unveiled tunes from 2011's exceptional return to form record "Breathe Out, Breathe In," alongside plenty of British Invasion gems and progressive innovations from yesteryear. After warming up with deeper or newer cuts, including the sophisticated, Steely Dan-like jazz of the current project's title track and the delightful vintage throwback "Any Other Way," the band delivered a half dozen highlights from its cornerstone collection "Odessey & Oracle."
After hearing cuts like "This Will Be Our Year" and "I Want Her She Wants Me" come across with experimental intricacy and conceptual grandeur even to this day, it's no wonder why the 1967 swansong album was ranked at #80 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. Add in the globally known "Time Of The Season," which remains one of the era's most defining anthems, and it's a shame The Zombies initially called it quits at this creative pinnacle.
Given Argent and Blunstone's famed careers after the break-up, both snuck in a few solo hits, which didn't necessarily fit with The Zombies' more astute musical style, but were nonetheless satisfying as stand alone songs. Blunstone turned in a blue-eyed soul rendition of Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted," while Argent revved up classic rockers like "Hold Your Head Up" and "God Gave Rock And Roll To You."
Nonetheless, nothing could overshadow the group's most familiar hits with the melodic strutter "Tell Her No" exploding with psychedelic urgency and "She's Not There" serving as a textbook example of Britain's first ever musical conquest of America. And it turns out The Zombies aren't just pleasing core fans on the road these days, but also newer groups like Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Fleet Foxes, Super Furry Animals and The Vaccines, who's widespread praise further ensures history never forgets these progressive pioneers.
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