Breathe Out Breathe In CD
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2011 album from the British Pop/Rock legends led by founding members Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone. A magisterial work, it is everything you could possibly hope for from the group who, back in the '60s, provided such signature works as the singles 'She's Not There', 'Tell Her No' and 'Time Of The Season' and the album Odessey And Oracle, their 1968 Brit Psych masterpiece. The 10 songs, which make up Breathe Out, Breathe In, are impeccably crafted pieces, the harmonies are rich, the melodies full, the arrangements exquisite, the organ and piano fresh, the production intuitive.
Lead singer Colin Blunstone and virtuoso keyboardist Rod Argent are present and correct from the original quintet for this new Zombies album, while original bassist Chris White co-writes a couple of tracks. However, though this goes some way toward dispelling the smack of flying under a flag of convenience which afflicts so many 60s band reunions, this music rarely sounds like The Zombies we remember, and this can’t be put down solely to the alien presence of bassist Jim Rodford, drummer Steve Rodford and guitarist Tom Toomey.
When the opening title-track reveals itself to be breathy pop, the fact that it is a world removed from brooding fare like Zombies signature song She’s Not There seems unimportant: it’s a highly agreeable concoction and one is happily aware that musos of these men’s age rarely sound so peppy. However, when Blunstone’s Any Other Way (the sole song written with no input from Argent) turns out to be in a similarly sun-dappled mode despite its melancholy lyric, and when the Abbey Road-esque Shine on Sunshine transpires to feature the tweeting of birds just in case we don’t get the life-affirming message, it begins to seem like this peppiness is affected. Even the lack of gaps between songs feels designed to add to the artfully guileless air.
Not that all ties to the sophisticated past are cut. Jazzy, off-kilter time signatures maintain the bespectacled gravitas that led The Zombies to become one of the first bands to record a concept album, while there is plenty of the type of elegant, dazzling keyboard work for which Argent is renowned.
The relentless musical frothiness becomes almost paradoxical in contrast to the sometimes edgy lyrics of the slinky Play It For Real, the funky Show Me the Way and the flamenco-flavoured A Moment in Time. Yet, interestingly enough, it’s only when The Zombies try to get serious in both music and lyric that the album falls down: Christmas for the Free, a solemnly delivered querulous song about Yuletide, is too inchoate to have impact, while the muscular pop-rock domestic bellyache Another Day is somewhat banal.
Breathe Out, Breathe In is a very respectable piece of work, but the main thought it provokes is that it is a puzzling and almost painfully self-conscious attempt to put distance between The Zombies and the minor-chord moodiness that made their reputation.
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Top customer reviews
If you are familiar with some or all of their previous work or have stumbled on The Zombies and are wondering whether or not to buy this CD, my answer would be definitely.
There's a lot of rubbish talked by reviewers about how bands either stick too closeley with a predictable formula or, alternatively, disappoint by not adhering to familiar production values!
This album is at one and the same time a very new, surprising and different Zombies album yet totally a Zombies album in the traditional sense.
The fact is that The Zombies are a contemporary band in 2011 who retain two of the original founding line-up from 50 years ago (Argent/Blunstone) and who also include three other equally-talented and experienced musicians to complete their line-up. Jim Rodford, the bass player, actually inspired Rod Argent to start a group in the first place in 1961. The Zombies celebrate their past but are very much in the now.
The reliability, uniqueness, familiarity and excellence of Rod Argent's keyboards and Colin Blunstone's vocals are a given on this album and the two Rodfords, drummer Steve and dad Jim and guitarist Tom Toomey, as I said, play much more than a supporting role to the 'two originals'.
What is surprising and exciting about this album is that there's a bigger variety of styles and tempos over the course of the ten tracks than I was expecting.
What binds all ten tracks together is the standard of musicanship and production. All are clearly identifiable as Zombies numbers, with some familiar references and sounds, but each as distinct, fresh and different as the last.
I have already recognised several tracks as future favourites on my iPod.
But don't just take my word for it. With the sound-bites on Amazon and some of the tracks available to see and hear on Youtube and The Zombies' website, there's no reason not to try before you buy.
The harmonies and production are everything you'd expect and more. Colin has never sounded better and Rod's keyboard variations are a delight as always.
Ultimately it all comes down to the quality of the songwriting, and you won't be disappointed here. Eight new songs plus a couple of old Argent tracks 'Shine on Sunshine' which sounds very different from the 70's original & 'Christmas for the Free' both sounding very fresh and fit in with the new material perfectly.
Without a shadow of a doubt this is one of the Zombies best - well crafted, superb vocals, and just great songs that really feel alive!
A word too for Tom Toomey who co-writes one of the many stand-out tracks - 'A moment in time'- whether its acoustic or electric guitar, he's really added something to the band. It's no slight on Keith Airey but Tom Toomey's talented playing shines through on this set.
My only complaint - a bit short at 39 minutes and another couple of tracks might have made this a 5*. Leave them wanting more eh!
On first hearing it felt comfortable, and a welcome addition to the collection.
In my opinion this feels like a natural progression album, and a fan will easily forget the gap of 30 or so years.
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