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Archive for the ‘The Zombies’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: VANILLA FUDGE-Vanilla Fudge (1967).

I’m still puzzled by the existence of Vanilla Fudge.  By 1967 I wouldn’t think that a band who existed primarily on covers would be viable.  I also wouldn’t think that an album that is all covers would have been marketable.  But I guess the fascinating sound of Vanilla Fudge–lots of organ, screamed vocals and a heavy rhythm section covering recent hits at a drastically reduced speed was a sensation.

Evidently they influenced everyone (Led Zeppelin opened for them and Richie Blackmore and Jon Lord loved the organ sound and wanted it for Deep Purple) and are considered a link between psychedelia and heavy metal.

The first song is a cover of The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” of all songs. The Beatles released it in 1965 and two years later the Fudge put heir spin on it.  It is pretty much unrecognizable until they get to the lyrics.  Singer Max Stein takes the lyrics smooth and slow until he starts screaming like a heavy metal song (I can hear an Ian Gillan precedent).   After the “Ri-ii-iide,” in the chorus there’s a little guitar riff that stands out amid all of the organ.

“People Get Ready” (also originally from 1965) also starts unrecognizable until 90 seconds in when there’s a nod to the main riff and then a lot of harmony vocals. By nearly 2 minutes, the main melody of the song is played slowly on a church style organ and they sing the chorus in a kind of church choir.  The whole song is pretty much all organ and Stein crooning.

“She’s Not There” (recorded by The Zombies in 1964) is organ heavy with a build up for each line The song feels really psychedelic with Stein’s screamed vocals, and Appice’s drumming.  I really rather like the backing vocals.

“Bang Bang” (1966) was written by Sonny Bono is noisy with crashing drums and intermittent guitar surrounded by the Hammond organ.  About 2 minutes in, he sings in a childlike voice “Ring Around The Rosy” and “A Tisket a Tasket.”  I don;t know the original at all, but can;t imagine how it went.

After an introduction called “Illusions of My Childhood, Pt. 1” which is basically 20 seconds of keys, they get into their first hit a cool, slow cover of “You Keep Me Hanging On.”  I find that with the Vanilla Fudge, it’s the songs I don’t know as well that I enjoy their treatment of more.

“Take Me for a Little While” is less than 3:30 after the introductory “Illusions of My Childhood, Pt. 2.”  It ends with a melody of the Farmer in the Dell before the martial beat introduces us to the next song.

After the 25 seconds of “Illusions of My Childhood, Pt. 3” the official cover of “Eleanor Rigby” begins completely unlike any version of the song.  It’s just keys and such until about 3 minutes when they start singing “oh, look at all the lonely people” in a kind of choir.  When the actual lyrics come in, they are sing quietly or in a group chorale.  They end the song by chanting “they do, they do.”  It’s a complete reinvention of the songs.

The record ends with them singing a denouement of “nothing is real, nothing to get hung about.”

There really is nothing else like this band.  But they seem far more like a novelty than a foundation of a musical style.  And they’re still touring today.

[READ: February 1, 2016] “The Actual Hollister”

I really like Dave Eggers’ writing style. It always seems casual yet dedicated.  Like he might not really care that much about what he’s going to tell you but that he paid a lot of attention while he was getting ready to bring it to you.  That attitude kind of helps especially when reading something that you yourself don’t really have a care about (to start with).

This story is about Hollister, California.  Eggers says he was inspired to go there because he had been seeing those sweatshirts that say Hollister on them.  [At this point I have t confess that I have seen them, but don’t really register them and didn’t know it had anything to do with Abercrombie and Fitch].

And thus the story bifurcates into the story of the brand and the story of the town.  And never shall they meet. (more…)

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april-5SOUNDTRACK: THE ZOMBIES-Tiny Desk Concert #236 (August 12, 2012).

zombiesWhen I saw that The Zombies were playing Tiny Desk I was really puzzled.  I love “Time of the Season,” but beyond that I’ve never really thought about them.  I didn’t know if they were a one-hit wonder or if they’d struggled for years or what.  I certainly never imagined they were togetehr in 2012.  And the blurb addresses that:

Predicting music that will survive the ages just isn’t possible. And the very existence of The Zombies in 2012 is even more baffling.  Its best known song, “Time of the Season,” came out after the band had already broken up.

I also had no idea that Rod Argent, of the band Argent, was involved with The Zombies (or that he was still making music).  But there he is, talking about the reunited band and playing keyboards.  He tells us, e don’t normally play in such a stripped down version.”  For the Tiny Desk it’s just keys and vocals.  Colin Blunstone, the original singer was 67-years-old when he did this show.  And man, both of them sound great.

The open with another song that I didn’t know was by them: “She’s Not There,” another classic.  It’s unmistakable and sounds great. Blunstone is clearly pushing his voice hard (and it’s all the more noticeable in such a stripped down version).

The blurb notes: “We caught Blunstone early in the morning for this Tiny Desk Concert, a time of the day when his range was self-admittedly a bit strained. However, the essence is still all there and so is the chemistry between Colin and Rod, a chemistry that began 51 years ago.”

They have a new album (!) out.  Argent says they tried to figure out what would sound good stripped down and they “Any Other Way.”  It’s quite good but not as memorable as the other two.

“Time of the Season: sounds a little different—very slow and with out the “Ckh aaah” and backing vocals.  But Blunstone sounds great and Argent plays some great piano solos.

For the final song, they play “a big solo hit that Colin had” called “I Don’t Believe in Miracles.”  I didn’t know the song.  It was written by the guitarist Russ Ballard who was the guitarist for Argent.  It’s a good song, I can see it being a hit with his soaring voice.  At the end, he comments, “I missed the really high bit at the end—I thought my eyes might pop out if I did that.”

It was great to hear these songs live, and maybe I’ll have to see if they made any other songs that I’ve always liked.

[READ: July 11, 2016] “Gavin Highly”

I haven’t really liked the stories from Janet Frame.  And I found this one to be somewhat unsatisfying as well.

There’s an element of fairy tale about this story that I did like–with the narrator unsure if her memory is doing any good.

The narrator (age unspecified, but the story is a recollection from childhood) is talking about the man Gavin Highly.  Highly was a strange guy.  He lived alone and always had done so.  But there were stories about him–that he lived in a rabbit burrow and invited ferrets in for afternoon tea.  “But of course that sort of story couldn’t be believed by realists.”

For all of his eccentric living–never actually living in a proper house that anyone knew of–he did collect books.  People said there were books everywhere.   They were probably worth thousands of pounds and if he had a mind to, he could sell them and buy a nice place.  But he never would. (more…)

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