ZOMBIES – Breathe Out, Breathe In (Redhouse)

At this point older readers are going to be asking ‘is this the Zombies from the 60’s – ‘She’s Not There’ and ‘Time Of The Season’, and what the hell are they doing in Indie Corner?’ The simple answer is yes it is – the band reconvened to play a 40th anniversary concert to celebrate their classic ‘Odessey & Oracle’ album, and they seemed to gell so well that they have now recorded and released a brand new album on the Redhouse label. Now, just because I loved the band in the 60’s does not mean that I am going to dive into this one and assume I will love it too. In fact, if anything, I am going to be extra cautious, as generally bands that get back together after many years only do it to live off their past glories, so I dipped a toe into the waters and found a couple of tracks to sample online. Suffice to say that I ordered the album straight after that, and it is astounding that the band have produced a classic pop album of this quality after so long a break. The title track is all you need to hear to realise that Rod Argent still has a knack for a great tune, and Colin Blunstone still has one of the best voices around. Although you would never mistake this for something from their classic period, it is still a classy pop song, with a memorable chorus and inventive melody. To prove that it is no fluke, ‘Any Other Way’ is even better, and I found myself humming it a few days later, after only a couple of plays. The rest of the band are no slouches either, providing the perfect support and great backing vocals on all the songs. Rod Argent shines on piano and organ, and when you hear the guitar solo on ‘Any Other Way’ you realise just how much you miss them on modern pop songs. ‘Play It For Real’ harks back to their R‘n’B days with a nifty little rocker, which is followed by the Beatle-esque ‘Shine On Sunshine’ (and remember that these guys were contemporaries of the Fab Four in the late 60’s, so no accusations of ripping them off, please) and the punchy ‘Show Me The Way’. A remake of Argent’s ‘Christmas For The Free’ – from their 1973 ‘In Deep ‘ album – sounds even better than the original with Blunstone on vocals, and then the band wrong-foot us with the heavy rock of ‘Another Day’. ‘I Do Believe’ is the sort of lush ballad that the band did so well way back in their heyday, and while ‘Let It Go’ tries to be more of the same it does come over as a little too cloying, and the organ solo is pure Procol Harum, so perhaps not the best track to end the album as it is the one you will remember when it is all over. But that is only one small criticism of an otherwise surprisingly impressive return to form from a band that I thought had passed away many years ago. Never have a band been so aptly named to come back from the dead with something this good!

Any Other Way