Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Danny Reisch at Good Danny's, Austin, Texas
The boys spooked me the other day. They told me that they didn't envy me for having to write about The Zombies. They wondered how it could be done - where could you even begin, how would you ever end it, rather than prattling on and on about them, frothing and drooling all over the place - a litany of hyperbole and hyperventilation. This had never happened before. The boys, you see, had never much given a damn about what I was or was not capable of capturing, or encapsulating, with the handful of words that I knock out for artists who pay us a visit. They sorta iced me for a while there and the problems all seemed to manifest themselves, with their hairy details and their believable fangs. I began to think, "Yep, they're absolutely right. The thankless task now comes with scrutiny. Mess this one up and you're literally fucking with the gods."
This is where The Zombies fit in the history of music - somewhere right there with the gods of the whole premise, with the entire idea of what rock and roll is for people. "Odessey and Oracle" is without question one of, if not the greatest record of all-time and with that single album - released in early 1968 - The Zombies solidified themselves as one of the greats. There was more, but they needed nothing else. Those songs - written and arranged by Rod Argent and Chris White, sung mostly by Colin Blunstone - are impervious to criticism. It's a devastating piece of history, this great album, because with it brought the destruction of the band. Before it was even released, the tempers that had flared up in the recording process, brought the group to its knees, and they'd played their final show together nearly five months before its official release date. It wasn't until 2008 that all of the original Zombies finally reunited to perform the first-ever complete performances of "Odessey and Oracle," in honor of the record's 40th anniversary.
This session, recorded at Good Danny's in Austin, Texas, during the tail-end of the South By Southwest music festival this March was taped just hours after a full band performance at a Paste party downtown. Argent and Blunstone were shuttled over to the house as the twilight sky had begun to set in. A crowd of admirers were lying out in the grass in the backyard, enjoying a beautiful end to a day when Blunstone comes up to the back porch, having seen many others with beers in their hands. He asks if there might be any more beers. He cracked a Pabst and became just like everyone else before he started to sing, moments later. Standing next to Argent, who was seated at a sturdy, old upright piano in the intimate living room, Blunstone was spectacular. Argent was a wizard and together, it was one of those moments where you can really believe in and feel their line, "The warmth of your love, like the warmth from the sun." That was this day I spent, we spent, in the middle of this last March.
The Zombies Official Site