The Zombies

The Decca Stereo Anthology

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There were a bunch of Zombies reissues in the 1990s and early 2000s, including a Zombies box set, Zombie Heaven, that seemed to gather just about everything conceivable recorded by the group. So how exactly does this two-CD, 48-song compilation of their 1964-1966 Decca sessions fit into the pecking order? Well, if you have the box set, it's for the fanatics, since most of these tracks also appear on that box. The crucial difference, though, is that these have been newly remixed for stereo. That's not a trifling distinction, since many of these songs have never been previously available in stereo (though it would have been nice if the otherwise admirably detailed liner notes made it clear which ones fall into that category). And you do get a little bit in the way of extras that haven't been previously available, in the form of backing tracks for "Leave Me Be," "Work n' Play," "Just out of Reach," and "Whenever You're Ready," as well as some bits and pieces of false starts to some of the tracks, though it would take a mighty dedicated Zombies specialist to figure out which such false starts might have previously appeared on other releases. On just two tracks, there's a little bit of 2002 overdubbing that might miff purists -- original Zombies drummer Hugh Grundy put an overdub on "She's Not There" to simulate the drum overdub that was used in the mono mix, as he did with a tambourine for "Is This the Dream." Keep in mind, though, that the mono mixes of those songs are available elsewhere (on Zombie Heaven, for instance, on the same label), so it's not as if any irreparable changes have been enacted. As for the music itself -- something that might get overlooked given the extremely specialized approach of this anthology -- it really is great, in remixed stereo as it is here, or in mono. For audiophiles and obsessives, these do give you the chance to hear this in conscientiously mixed stereo. But even if this is the only Zombies anthology you get, it's an excellent collection on its own terms, including all of their varied and wonderful singles and numerous non-single tracks recorded prior to 1967, showing them as one of the most melodically inventive rock bands ever. Note, however, that it has nothing recorded after 1966, which means there's no "Time of the Season" and nothing from their acclaimed Odessey & Oracle album.

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