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THE ZOMBIES Breathe Out Breathe In Red House Records (2011)

The Zombies

The Zombies 'Breathe Out - Breathe In' affirmatively answers the question as to whether the band can stay creatively consistent to their extraordinary 50 year old origins.

And despite the yoga friendly title, 'Breathe Out - Breathe In' is every bit as good as fans dared hope it might be.

Colin Blunstone still has a wistful vocal delivery and a startling range and Rod Argent sparkles as an inspired instrumentalist and an innovative arranger with an eye for a rocky edge and a catchy hook to confirm his peerless song writing credentials. And above all the band still has the ability to cross over from pop to rock without once comprising its oeuvre.

'Breathe Out - Breathe In' is a well recorded, crisply mastered album with a strong sonic quality and a coherent sequential flow that carries the listener forward from the poppy opening title track to the organ led finale of 'Let It Go'.

And while the psychedelic 60's feel may have been supplanted by lyrics that deal with life experiences, shifting from the personal and philosophical to the spiritual in gospel mode, it still takes the vocal magic of Colin Blunstone's unique phrasing to transform an ordinary lyric into something special.

And this being The Zombies, there are several exhilarating moments when the subtle blend of voice, lyric and music transcends the song itself. This is particularly so on the musical groove of 'Show Me The Way' which features a dynamic descending keyboard line and a brusque Rod vocal over some cool bv's and a perfectly nuanced sprinkling of keyboard magic. Colin's phrasing has never deserted him, and he transforms a slightly pedestrian 'Christmas for the Free' (a contender for a film soundtrack) into song of hope and substance.

The album opens with the catchy chorus and summery poppy optimism of the title track and immediately swoops into 'Any Other Way', a song that is everything you could wish for from the Zombies. Colin brings a sense of urgency to his vocals over some Latino style percussion, a persistent triangle and Rod's poised keyboard playing.

The band later adds a rockier edge to the equally impressive riff driven 'Another Day'. It's a song full of sweeping keyboards, Colin's imaginative phrasing and some infectious bv's. Both tracks update the Zombies style making them rocky, relevant, contemporary and potentially commercial and they are surely destined for an elevated place in the band's impressive song catalogue.


Get Ready to ROCK!'s Features Editor Pete Feenstra quizzes Rod Argent about the new album...

Do you think recording this album was easier simply because you are more experienced than the old days?

I think it's more to do with the fact we approached this album as a band project and we recorded as much as possible with us all playing together.

Back in the old days we had to record everything in about three hours as there was no money for studio time or production. It wasn't until 'Odyssey & Oracle' that we were first introduced to multi tracking etc.

So initially on this album we just laid it all down and like in the old days it was a case of getting it down quite quickly.

How long have the songs for 'Breathe Out-Breathe On' been around?

Well some of the songs actually came at the end of the session. One example of that would be one of my favorite tracks on the album, 'A Moment in Time'.

And the basic idea for that came from our guitarist Tom (Toomey). He was sheltering from the rain backstage at a festival in Bordeaux and played a particular lick that I thought would be great idea for a song. I then worked on the chorus and then the song as a whole.

On the other hand 'Breathe Out, - Breathe In' the title track was something that I had kicking around my head for ages but I hadn't quite crystallized it yet. So I guess altogether the CD took about a year to make, though only a few days of actual recording time in the studio.

And Colin has written a gem in 'Any Other Way' hasn't he?

I was so pleased that Colin came up with 'Any Other Way'. He was just singing a melody which had no lyrics at the time and he sang a bit of a chorus.

And I loved it immediately and said, 'we should do that'. In fact he didn't think it would be right for The Zombies, but we worked on it.

It's a bit more of a straightforward version on stage and was a little more pedestrian in the studio, so we put that Latin feel in there and the acoustic guitar part.

You also sing an impressive lead vocal on 'Show Me The Way'?

Well it was the result of the same approach to most of the album in that it was written very quickly. I originally suggested to Colin that he sing it, but then I said to him that I'd always had one song on every Zombies album and I ended up doing it.

There seems to a definite Beatles vibe to both 'Play It For Real' with its 'Hey Bulldog' intro and 'Shine on Sunshine' which reminds me of 'The Long & Winding Road'. Is that fair comment?

Well you're not the only person to mention 'Bulldog' in particular. In my head I'd wanted a strong keyboard riff for the intro and then for the guitar to take up. And I've obviously heard 'Hey Bulldog' before, but I was solely concentrating on the opening riff.

Someone called it an affectionate nod to the Beatles and in a way it is, though it wasn't conceived as that, but simply the opening riff of a song that goes elsewhere.

'Shine on Sunshine' came from my Argent days ('Circus') It was a 70% re write as I didn't think the song was fully realized with Argent, so I redid the chorus, added a new bridge and some new lyrics and basically built a new song.

And you also rejigged the Argent song 'Christmas for the Free' from 'In Deep'?

That was because I always wanted to hear Colin sing that song. He also really liked it so I thought this could be our only real re-visit. It's funny as it was originally an Argent Xmas single that our record company released in January!

There's an obvious Gospel feel to 'I Do Believe'. Where did that come from?

Well it seemed a kind of natural song to do for me as we wanted to utilise the three part harmonies in the band. But the original part of the chord sequence came to me when I worked with Edgar Winter on Ringo's 2006 American tour.

We were all asked to contribute a couple of songs and then we had to sing everyone else's song , so Sheila E, Billy Squire, Hamish Stuart, Richard Marks and me got round to playing a great song of Edgar's called 'Livin' To Die' (ed note; from 'Edgar Winter's White Trash').

I hadn't heard the song before, though Colin knew it. Anyway Edgar played this song and asked me to put a bit of a string part on it. So I sussed the chords and loved the chord changes and basically played around with that sequence. And that led to 'I Do Believe' one of the songs that we subsequently 'played in' before we recorded it.



Having reprised the Zombies brand on the opening brace of tracks, the cd suddenly becomes coloured by a Beatles fixation that extends over two tracks, starting with the 'Hey Bulldog' derivative intro of 'Play It For Real'.

The double tracked vocals and falsetto also sounds like Cream, on a sumptuously produced track anchored and topped by Rod's extravagant piano embellishment.

The Beatles also loom large on the piano/vocal led 'Shine On Sunshine', which in spite of its radio friendly vocal and chorus is simply too close to 'The Long & Winding Road' not to pass comment. Rod's piano, and Colin vocal phrasing have McCartney stamped all over them, and even the chorus comes bathed in a choral accompaniment favoured by the Fab Four. Nonetheless, it's still a lovely song with real presence and a delightful hook.

There's a dreamy 60's vocal intro on another album highlight, the powerful 'Show Me The Way'. Rod's muscular vocal leads the band into a funky tightly wrapped piece of rock over descending chords and a delightful keyboard solo. Halfway through there's an additional layer of percussion as the bv's imperceptibly shift to the front of the mix and lead into an a cappella finish. Very cool.

Colin positively soars on 'A Moment In Time' finding the perfect vocal performance to evoke the lyrical cry of love on such lines as 'Let me be reckless but catch me when I fall'. It's another superbly produced piece full of acoustic guitars, delicate percussion, well judged bv's as part of an uplifting choral accompaniment with sweeping orchestration.

Both 'Christmas For The Free' and the gospel feel of 'I Do Believe' lend a spiritual dimension to the album and the closing 'Let It Go' - a sorrowful tale of a broken relationship delivered over a Procol Harum (or should that be Bach) sounding organ line -quietly lulls the album to its close.

At the time of writing I'm not sure which track will be the lead single, but suffice it to say there's so much good stuff here to choose from. There can be few enduring bands that have enjoyed a return to form like this, over four decades since their initial transatlantic success. In that respects 'Breathe Out - Breathe In' is sparkling triumph of 60's tinged music over the time space continuum!


A free download of album track 'A Moment In Time' is available at

Review by Pete Feenstra

Interview with Rod Argent


Interview: 31 July 2011
© 2011 Pete Feenstra/GRTR! All rights reserved.


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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