colin blunstone

The Zombies Invade The City Winery (And Even Get A Wine Named After Them)!

By Anne M. Raso, Mac Wire Contributing Editor

We could be cheesy and say that it’s “the time of the season” for The Zombies but it’s actually more accurate to say it’s “the time of the New Millennium” if you think about it since they are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a tour that includes original members Colin Blunstone (lead vocals) and Rod Argent (keyboard and vocals). The lineup is rounded out by Argent’s older cousin Jim Rodford on bass (who played on several monumental Kinks albums, by the way), his son Steve Rodford on drums and Tom Toomey on guitar. At last night’s mesmerizing performance at the City Winery in New York City’s trendy Tribeca neighborhood, the guys received the ultimate tribute when a special batch of Sauvignon Blanc was made in their name (yes, right on the premises in the wine cellars downstairs)!

But what everyone came for was the music (although City Winery is a favorite “vinomaniac” hang in Manhattan and some singles come to “mingle”). It was touching how lead singer Colin Blunstone–famous for his mysterious, somewhat whispery vocals on such original British invasion hits as “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time Of The Season” which all reached the Top Ten Stateside circa 1964 to 1968–spoke about his first trip across the pond back in 1964. The Zombies came here to do one of those giant package shows at the Brooklyn Fox that Murray The K used to promote and MC, and CB actually asked members of the audience who were at any of those shows to raise their hands. Indeed, a few hands were raised!

Not only did the band do heart-warming renditions of the five most popular tracks off their legendary Odessey And Oracle album (which holds the #80 spot on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums Of All Time list), but they did a few tracks off their wonderful new Breathe Out, Breathe In CD, and sprinkled the hits hear and there. In case you are curious, “She’s Not There” is saved for the last spot in Zombies shows…and last night’s encore was “God Gave Rock And Roll To You.” We wrongly always assumed that was a KISS original, but it was actually a European hit for Argent (Rod Argent’s OTHER famous band) back in 1973 and only heated up in Philly despite it being such a great rock anthem. KISS rocked it up a bit and had a hit with it in the 80s, as you probably know. 

Rod Argent, who, in our opinion, has one of the most unique keyboard styles in all of classic rock, also got the audience rocking along for “Hold Your Head Up”–but since this was the City Winery, everyone held their wine glasses up! Another little known hit Stateside was Colin Blunstone’s version of “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” (originally a Motown hit for Jimmy Ruffin) and his performance of this soul classic was definitely a highlight of the Zombies set. (CB’s version, performed as a duet with Dave Stewart–not the guy from the Eurythmics–was a huge hit in Europe back in 1980.)

Photo info: Anne Raso of The Mac Wire with Colin Blunstone by Gail Worley, concert and wine photos by Anne Raso.

We here at The Mac Wire strongly recommend picking up Breathe Out, Breathe In since it brings all the classic elements of the Zombies including Colin’s breathy vocals and Rod’s punchy keyboards in with some timeless material that is reminiscent of the original British Invasion from which the band came…but also throws in some modern elements and production which add a lot of spice to the whole musical package. 

Happy 50th to The Zombies–so happy they are doing a tour, have a new disc out and seem to have endless energy. We were lucky enough to meet them after the show, get the inside scoop on the tour as well as talk to Rod Argent about “God Gave Rock And Roll To You.” He probably hears from dozens a fans a night that they thought it was a KISS song, but he told us the whole story about how it seemed to only “hit” in certain musical communities around the world but not with the mainstream American public. We’ll catch up with you again next time you are in the Big Apple, lads!