The Zombies

R.I.P.

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In 1969, the Zombies landed their biggest hit with the moody, light psychedelia of "Time of the Season," but it was too late for the group to enjoy it much, as they had been broken up for over a year when the track from Odessey and Oracle belatedly took off on American radio. However, no one in the record business will ever pass on an opportunity to follow up a hit, and since original members Rod Argent (keyboards) and Chris White (bass) had been writing songs together with a new group in mind, it took only so much persuading to get them to cut a few singles under the name the Zombies, most patterned after the languid but artful tone of Odessey and Oracle. The Zombies' American record label initially intended to combine the tracks with some unreleased studio outtakes to fashion an album called R.I.P., but since none of the Argent/White singles became a major breakout, the plan was scrapped, and the scattered tunes popped up on a handful of compilation albums and box sets. In 2014, Varese Sarabande finally assembled the songs into their proposed sequence and gave R.I.P. an official release, with the first half of the album featuring the Argent/White sides, and the reworked Zombies outtakes (many with overdubbed horns and strings) on what would have been side two. As one might expect, the album has something of a split personality, since original lead singer Colin Blunstone doesn't appear on the Argent/White numbers, and the sudden reappearance of his distinctive voice at the midway point gives the feeling that things have shifted gears. Also, while the Argent/White tunes "Imagine the Swan" and "Smokey Day" capture the feel of the Odessey and Oracle-era group, "She Loves the Way They Love Her" takes the music is a different direction altogether, and "Conversation on Floral Street" is a rollicking instrumental that more closely resembles Argent's later work on his own. The second-half material sounds like solid vintage Zombies, albeit with a bit more gingerbread than usual, and though none of these songs rank with their finest work, they're good enough to serve as a reminder of just how many great sides the group released in their time, especially "If It Don't Work Out" and "Walking in the Sun." This release also includes monophonic single mixes for three of the tunes, along with excellent liner notes from Andrew Sandoval. R.I.P. isn't quite the Great Lost Zombies Album, but it's a fine set of worthwhile rarities, and it's good to finally have this material collected in one place at last; fans of this great band will certainly want this in their collection.

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