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It’s The Time Of The Season For The Zombies’ Lost Album “R.I.P.”

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Zombies - RIPIt’s the time for The Zombies – no, not the flesh-eating, reanimated monstrosities of The Walking Dead, but the British band famed for the hits “Time of the Season,” “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There.” Varese Vintage has previously revisited the group’s catalogue including on this year’s Record Store Day vinyl reissue of the key 1968 album Odessey and Oracle. This week, the label has a real treat with the first-ever legitimate CD issue of The Zombies’ “lost” album, R.I.P., as it was intended to be released in the United States in 1969, sourced from the correct master mixes.

Though the band only recorded two proper studio albums (Begin Here in the U.K., refigured as The Zombies in the U.S., and Odessey and Oracle), enough material was left behind for Ace’s Big Beat label to curate a 4-CD complete box set, Zombie Heaven, in 1997. Yet even that monumental achievement left room for further titles to plug in the gaps. One such title was R.I.P., cheekily titled by the group members after they had broken up the band.

As reissue co-producer Andrew Sandoval explains in his typically excellent liner notes, most members of the band had moved into other arenas following the group’s dissolution in late 1967: lead singer Colin Blunstone in insurance, guitarist Paul Atkinson in computers; drummer Hugh Grundy in automobile sales. Rod Argent (lead vocals/piano/organ) and Chris White (bass) soldiered on, however. When Columbia Records’ U.S. subsidiary Date Records found itself with a hit on its hands thanks to the late-blooming “Time of the Season,” the label turned to Argent and White to craft a follow-up. Colin Blunstone, circa 1969, is quoted by Sandoval: “CBS wanted an album for America, so we used old tracks which had never been released. I sing on one side of the LP. We brought the tapes up-to-date by adding certain things and taking away others.” For the other side of the LP, Argent and White formed a band – including Jim Rodford, Russ Ballard and Bob Henrit – and recorded six new songs in late 1968 as The Zombies.

R.I.P. was turned in to Date in early 1969. The new Argent/White songs formed a sophisticated mini-suite of rich, melodic pop on the LP’s Side One, using the expansive, baroque sound of Odessey and Oracle as their starting point. An instrumental, “Conversation Off Floral Street,” expanded on the jazzy stylings that had elevated past songs including “Time of the Season.” The second side’s oldies, including the sublime, beat-ish “If It Don’t Work Out,” were fleshed out with added orchestral frills. But when the single releases of the evocative “Imagine the Swan” (from the Argent/White side) and “If It Don’t Work Out” failed to capitalize on the success of “Season,” Date shelved the album.

We pick up the story after the jump!  Plus: the complete track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 21, 2014 at 09:27

Posted in News, Reissues, The Zombies

Varese Goes On A Record Store Day “Odessey” With The Zombies, The Everly Brothers, Norman Greenbaum [UPDATED]

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Odessey and OracleUPDATED 4/15: It’s the time of the season for Varese Sarabande’s Vintage imprint.  The label has recently announced its four limited edition vinyl offerings for this April 19’s Record Store Day, with two LPs from The Zombies plus goodies from The Everly Brothers, and Norman Greenbaum.  We also have details on the label’s vinyl Genesis reissue coming later this year.

Initially rejected by Clive Davis and then championed by Al Kooper, The Zombies’ 1968 Odessey and Oracle remains the British band’s most beloved album.  Rod Argent reflected on it in the liner notes to Rhino’s 1987 reissue: “The songs were inspired by a variety of influences, but they were songs which came from our hearts. They were not the result of a producer or record company imposing their views of what a hit single might be. Some of the songs were romantic, others sparked by literature (‘Butchers Tale,’ ‘Brief Candles’) – ‘A Rose for Emily’ was inspired by a Faulkner short story. Chris reflected on his experience growing up near Beechwood Park in his song of that name. ‘Time of the Season’ was actually influenced by Smokey Robinson’s ‘The Tracks of My Tears.’”  All of these diverse influences added up to a haunting, intricate song cycle with baroque orchestration, psychedelia, blues and rock hand-in-hand.  For RSD, Varese is returning Odessey to vinyl in its original stereo mix.  It will be joined by The Zombies, in mono.  This LP dates to 1966, when it was released by the band’s original label Decca as I Love You in Europe and Japan only.  I Love You compiled twelve single sides (including the hit “She’s Not There”) onto one LP; Varese gave the album its first U.S. release in 2004 on CD in a reworked and expanded edition.  Now it’s appearing for the first time on vinyl in the United States.

Songs Our Daddy Taught UsThe Everly Brothers’ 1958 LP Songs Our Daddy Taught Us was recently covered, song-for-song, by the odd couple duo of Norah Jones and Billie Jo Armstrong as Foreverly.  Just a couple of weeks ago, Varese reissued this classic collection on CD with six previously unissued bonus tracks.  On RSD, the original 12-track Cadence album returns to vinyl.  Far cries from hits like “Bye Bye Love” and “Bird Dog,” these Songs were passed down to Don and Phil from their father, concerned with the likes of murder, thievery, jail and aging.  Though Songs wasn’t commercially successful at the time, it’s since been rediscovered as a true cornerstone of Americana.  (Look for our review of Varese’s reissue in the days prior to Record Store Day!)

After the jump: we’ll look at Varese’s offerings from Genesis and Norman Greenbaum…plus full track listings for all five titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 15, 2014 at 10:55

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 5 (#80-76)

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It’s almost the weekend, and we’ve got the perfect set of tunes to rock your Saturday and Sunday!  It’s Part 5 of our first-ever official Second Disc Buyers Guide, in which we look at the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003, through the filter of when and how these classic albums have been reissued, remastered and repackaged. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself which versions of these albums to buy for certain bonus tracks and the like, we’re your one-stop shop.

80. The Zombies, Odessey and Oracle (CBS/Date, 1968)

It’s always the time of the season for Odessey [sic] and Oracle, the original studio swansong of The Zombies.  Rod Argent described the album in the liner notes to Rhino’s 1987 CD reissue: “In 1967, The Zombies, after only three professional years, had already decided to break up. Chris White and I, however, wanted to make a parting gesture. We wanted to make a very personal final album, controlling every step of the process from writing to final cut, from production of the music to production of the album cover. We knew the record would be released after the break-up of the group, so we didn’t attempt to bow to the pressures of the marketplace. The songs were inspired by a variety of influences, but they were songs which came from our hearts. They were not the result of a producer or record company imposing their views of what a hit single might be. Some of the songs were romantic, others sparked by literature (‘Butchers Tale,’ ‘Brief Candles’) – ‘A Rose for Emily’ was inspired by a Faulkner short story. Chris reflected on his experience growing up near Beechwood Park in his song of that name.  ‘Time of the Season’ was actually influenced by Smokey Robinson’s ‘The Tracks of My Tears.’ I misunderstood the line ‘If you look closer it’s easy (to trace the tracks of my tears)’ as ‘It’s the close of the season.’ I thought it was a great phrase, and when I found out that’s not what he sang, I wrote ‘Time of the Season.’”  Argent wrote five tracks while White contributed seven, and every song was brought to life by those gentlemen (Argent on organ, piano, Mellotron and vocals; White on bass and vocals) plus Colin Blunstone (vocals), Paul Atkinson (guitar, vocals) and Hugh Grundy (drums, vocals).

The record label, CBS, wasn’t as enthusiastic about the album as The Zombies, however.  According to Argent, he and White even had to draw against their songwriting royalties to have a stereo mix created.  The U.K. release finally came on April 19, 1968.  Clive Davis, of the U.S. Columbia/CBS office, initially passed on releasing the album in America.  Enter Al Kooper.  On a trip to the United Kingdom, the songwriter/producer heard Odessey and Oracle, and returned home raving to the top brass at the label.  Kooper felt strongly that there was great potential for hit singles off the album.  Although the first single “Butcher’s Tale” didn’t resonate on the charts, another track certainly did: “Time of the Season” was issued as a single in the U.S. nearly two years after it was recorded, and a year after the Zombies had split.  (White and Argent had already formed the band Argent!)  It hit No. 3 on the chart and remains a radio staple today.  But that iconic single, written by Rod, is just one small part of the Odessey tapestry.  The album is a lush, psychedelic journey that encompasses soul, tough rock and orchestrated baroque pop in a song cycle that’s as uniquely British as contemporary efforts by The Kinks and as ambitious as the best of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Pink Floyd.

Odessey and Oracle (its misspelling intentional, according to Argent) may have the most convoluted reissue history of any title in our Top 100.  We’ll attempt to make it (somewhat!) clear here.  Read on at your own risk!  The album first appeared on CD in 1986 with vastly inferior cover art, courtesy the Rock Machine label (MACD 6).  The next year brought Rhino’s reissue (RNCD 70186, 1987), which added the 1969 single “Imagine the Swan” (with only Argent remaining from the original band) and the Argent/White co-write “I’ll Call You Mine” to the line-up.  Here’s where one needs a scorecard to follow.  Due to vagaries of ownership, The Zombies’ catalogue has been reissued multiple times on multiple labels, with Odessey leading the pack in various editions with unique bonus tracks.  The 2004 edition on Fuel 2000 was advertised as “the first official North American release in 15 years” (Fuel 2000, 302 061 413 2) and adds ten bonus tracks including alternate stereo mixes, overdubbed versions and the U.K. mono mix of “Time of the Season.”  Greg Russo remastered.  Repertoire Records has reissued the album as REP-4214 in 1992, REP-4940 in 2001, REP-5089 in 2009 and finally, REP-5182 in 2011. The 2001 edition retains the stereo album plus sixteen bonus tracks.  The “40th Anniversary Edition” from 2009 offered the mono album on Disc 1 plus five bonus tracks (“I’ll Call You Mine,” “Imagine the Swan,” “Conversation Off Floral Street,” “If It Don’t Work Out,” “I Know She Will” and “Don’t Cry For Me”) plus the stereo album on Disc 2.  The 2011 iteration, subtitled The CBS Years 1967-1969, includes the original mono album plus “I’ll Call You Mine” on Disc 1, and the original stereo album plus an alternate take of “A Rose for Emily” and the unreleased R.I.P. album on Disc 2.  Jon Astley (The Who) remastered this edition.

As part of its comprehensive Zombies campaign, Ace’s Big Beat division has reissued Odessey more than once on CD, as a vinyl replica (CDHP 025) and also as a deluxe expanded edition (CDWIKM 181) for the album’s thirtieth anniversary in 1998.  The latter edition, considered by most to be the definitive one, offers both the mono and stereo versions on one CD plus three bonus tracks: alternates of “A Rose for Emily” and “Time of the Season” plus the backing track to “Prison Song (Care of Cell 44).”  Big Beat has also reissued Odessey on vinyl (LP WIKM 181) and as part of the Zombie Heaven “complete” box set for the group (ZOMBOX 7, 1997).  Japan’s Imperial/Teichiku label has also reissued the album with frequency, including TECI-26537, 2008, in the SHM-CD format.  All of this can become mighty intimidating to a first-time buyer, or heck, even to a seasoned one!  In conclusion, suffice to say that Big Beat’s expanded edition is the way to go, boasting solid sound quality, both the mono and stereo mixes, and a tight brace of three related bonus tracks.  Those of you who wish to explore the Zombie minutiae further can seek out any and all of the above mentioned releases to take an odessey, er, odyssey of your own.

79. James Brown, Star Time (Polydor, 1991)

James Brown was many things, but foremost among them was certainly a star.  When the four-disc box set Star Time was released in 1991, it was at the dawn of a halcyon era of archival releases and collectors’ boxes.  In the CD’s 1980s infancy, few releases had put an artist’s career into perspective with lavishly annotated, expanded reissues.  Star Time was one of the titles that literally set the standard.  Although further releases have explored various avenues of the legacy of the “hardest working man in show business,” including Hip-o Select’s fantastic complete singles series, Star Time remains the set to top for its well-curated, selective-yet-comprehensive “all-killer, no-filler” approach.  In fact, this box might just as well have been called The History of Funk.  Brown was so keyed into the present that his transition from early R&B to soul to funk (and all its own iterations) mirrored that of the larger musical culture.  At 71 tracks, Star Time never burned so brightly.  The original box set (Polydor 849 108) hasn’t been expanded, retooled or otherwise reissued; why tamper with perfection?  With its greasy, danceable grooves, you’ll want to get on the good foot, for sure, and start referring to yourself in the third person!  Owwww!

After the jump: are you ready for the country? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 2, 2011 at 14:58

Zombies LPs to Be Revived As Double-Disc Sets

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Repertoire Records is releasing double-disc editions of the original two albums by The Zombies.

The British group, acclaimed for such singles as “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season,” only cut two albums in the late ’60s – Begin Here for Decca and Odessy and Oracle for CBS – before splitting up. But there was plenty of material to be had; there were quite a few non-LP singles and a host of material for a third, never-released album. This work has been anthologized before – perhaps most notably in the 1997 box set Zombie Heaven on the Big Beat label in the U.K. – but these discs feature new remasters by John Astley and original artwork in a digipak case.

Both sets can be ordered from Repertoire’s site here and here (they’re expected to ship on January 21). Hit the jump for track info. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 19, 2011 at 12:44

Posted in News, Reissues, The Zombies