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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Zombies

Breathe Out, Breathe In

Review by Mark Johnson

The Zombies are one of the most famous bands of the early 1960s British rock wave that followed the Beatles' major crest. Some of the most famous songs they have created in their over 50 year tenure include classics like “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season.”They also created the monumental classic psych album, Odessey and Oracle.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band, founders Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone decided they needed some new songs to go along with their classic discography for a full U.S. tour. That was the birth of Breathe Out, Breathe In. The band was formed in 1961 in St. Albans, and is made up of Rod Argent on keyboards and backing vocals; Colin Blunstone on lead vocals; Tom Toomey on acoustic and electric guitar; Jim Rodford on bass and backing vocals and Steve Rodford on drums and percussion.

Breathe Out, Breathe In is not only a wonderful celebration of their 50th anniversary, it may just be a new start for the band. They have proven that despite their age they can reclaim their status as one of the innovators of the early British wave of artists who invaded America. This is an excellent collection of fun and deeply emotional future classics for all of their fans and new discoverers. It’s something we can all cherish until the next episode begins.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Breathe Out, Breathe In

The title track opens with the feeling of Donald Fagen’s Nightfly album and its jazzy sound. The piano is wonderful and full of great rhythm. The music is light and danceable with lyrics that match the light hearted air, “The city’s sitting pretty /A warm summer wind seems to promise something special tonight”. Fantastic bass work is featured, and the drums are on target as the guitar adds flavor. The organ is essential to this and all of the tracks on the album.

Any Other Way
“Any Other Way” is probably my second favorite track on the album. It opens with a cool rhythm and beat with that wonderful organ shining in the sun. Blunstone’s vocals bring back the sound and power of the classic tracks that made The Zombies famous. It sounds as though time has stood still.  Blunstone sings, “Still remember seeing you standing there / Alone in a crowded room / Suddenly your presence filled the air.” The acoustic guitar solo that shines on at about two-minutes into the track is one of the best on the album. It’s the perfect trip back in time that is sure to be a crowd pleaser on tour.
Play it for Real

The opening piano on “Play it for Real” took me right back to the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” for a moment. Then the bass, guitar and drums pull through to give it more of a “Hey Bulldog” feel. The vocal harmonies are there to help provide even more reminders. “Feel it for the first time / Hold it in your eyes / How you gonna ever live in this disguise?” Yes, you have to play it for real, and they do. The piano solo is worth the price of admission alone. I’d like to see this played live. 

Shine on Sunshine
Blunstone’s vocals on “Shine on Sunshine,” along with the melody bring back memories of the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.” Though the lyrics are different, the memories all come flowing back as the notes and lyrics unfold, “Shine on sunshine/ Chase the clouds away / Shine on sunshine into my life each day.” Blunstone is not McCartney, but he delivers the lyrics to this song with the same passion. The flute-like keys that accompany the bass, piano, drums and guitar add the perfect element to the sound.
Show Me the Way
“Show Me the Way” takes us back to some slow jazz rhythms, before Rod Argent does his best Paul McCartney, “Show me the way to get back home / I’m sorry for all that I’ve done.” That wonderful organ is back and you can feel that “Time of the Season” vibe again, set this time to bongos.
A Moment in Time
This has a wonderful Moody Blues/Yes soaring acoustic guitar opening which makes it another of the best tracks on the album. The beautiful piano solo paints an incredible picture. The song was inspired by Laurie Lee’s book A Moment of War. Blunstone’s vocals help capture the power in the lyrics.  The great story and journey of life is captured well.
Christmas for the Free
“Christmas for the Free” is a deeply religious and personal song devoted to peace and love. The lyrics are some of the best on the album. There is a cool Guess Who feeling to this track, as well. Blunstone’s vocals take us out, “Joy to the world at Christmas time / Jesus, this is Christmas for the free."
Another Day
This is a reflection upon the current state of the world and the need to treat each day as a new start instead of just another day. Blunstone gives us the band’s response, “Another day to celebrate / I don’t want to waste my time fixing every crime.” The organ solo and piano work is fantastic. The bass, guitars and drums support this rocker well.
I Do Believe
Blunstone’s vocals will bring back memories of some of the best of the Zombies classics on “I Do Believe.” His lone vocal opening, “There’s a thrill in the evening with the sun going down,”  on this track, is another one of the highlights of this album. The guitar, organ, bass and drums support well. Blunstone’s vocals  reach high. That organ just shines through the soundscape.
Let it Go
“Let it Go” is the epic closer and another deeply emotional song. The piano and Blunstone’s vocals  bring back memories of some of Procol Harum’s famous classics for me. The organ and piano work took me right back to parts of “Shine on Brightly,” “Whiter Shade of Pale” and other classics like “Grand Hotel.” It is the best track on the album for me as a Procol Harum and Zombies fan. Blunstone’s vocals are wonderful.
 
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