What is it like to sing songs almost 50 years after first writing and recording them? How does it feel to make your most creative work only to have it ignored? I wondered about these questions when I went and talked with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, two of the original members of The Zombies. They were in town with all the surviving members of their original band to perform their long overlooked, now classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle in full alongside earlier hits like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" and songs from their 2015 album Still Got The Hunger. You can hear our recording of the full concert over here.
Below, you'll find quotes from my conversation with Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent. You can listen to the full interview at the audio link on this page.
Colin Blunstone on singing songs he wrote almost 50 years ago:
"It will conjure up a time for me full of memories and exciting times, maybe a few regrets, it's an emotional experience and I've always found it comparatively easy to get into a lyric and perform and live that lyric. What I've struggled with is to not lose the phrasing, phrasing is so important when you're singing and if you get too emotionally involved in a lyric the song falls apart."
Colin on his long-running writing partnership with Rod Argent:
"Rod will say that he learned to write songs for my voice so subconsciously my voice is in his mind when he's writing songs and the same's true the other way around. I learned to sing professionally to Rod's songs so when we get together we often play the songs over just piano and voice just the two of us before the band hears it. When we get together I do find that Rod's songs are quite natural for me to sing and they can be quite sophisticated musically, quite challenging songs, but they just seem natural for me to sing because we've had this combination for so many years."
Rod Argent on going into the studio to record Odessey and Oracle:
"We had the chance of going in and putting things down in the way we wanted people to hear them and we had a new studio, we walked in just after The Beatles had walked out [after recording Sgt. Pepper]. We were the next band in. They'd left some of their instruments behind ... I used John Lennon's Mellotron, that's why it's all over Odessey and Oracle. We used some of their technological advances ... we were using seven tracks, and that meant we could overdub for the first time. And it meant that when i played the piano part I could then overdub a Mellotron part, and it meant we could have a fuller sound on some of the songs and it means that at the moment the tour we're doing with Odessey and Oracle it means we're actually reproducing every note on the original record by having extra player with us as well."
Colin on hearing the record played back for the first time:
"I remember it quite well. I thought that it was absolutely the best that we could do ... unfortunately, that lead to another feeling because it wasn't a commercial success and so I suppose subconsciously pretty early on I was starting to think this is the best we can do, it's not a commercial success maybe it's time we should get on and do other things." [Colin began to work for an insurance firm after the band split up.]
Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.