Aug 152012

My recent experience at a ’60s flashback tour documented HERE got me thinking a lot about how few bands on the oldies circuit have managed to retain any sense of cool, integrity, or credibility. I then happened to catch an interview with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies on an NPR podcast where they performed a “Tiny Desk Concert.”

I was immediately floored not only by the quality of their voices but also that they’ve continued to stand apart from other ’60s bands since their heyday. It is still a rare feat to have such wide appeal not only from the mass radio audiences but with critics and music snobs as well. Most likely they were able to escape any embarrassment or permanent damage to their history by dissolving the band at the height of their success. Further, it appears Blunstone’s and Argent’s post-Zombies output doesn’t overshadow or impact their previous work negatively. The same cannot be said for their contemporaries, whose quality of albums in the later years suffered and only manage to replicate any successes by showing up in casinos or touring the sheds every summer.

Is there a band from the ’60s still active and touring that rivals the coolness of The Zombies?


  16 Responses to “Never Not Cool: The Zombies”

  1. The two of them sound great as a duo these says, but a griend saw them on tour with a band a few yeara ago and reported that the backing band was cheesy and inappropriate.

    To answer your question I would say a number of old soul performers manage to do their show in a direct, vital way.

  2. I have to say I like this tiny desk concert idea.

    Do the Zombies fall into the category of groups that never topped their initial hit (She’s Not There)?

    That new tune “Any Other Way” makes me want to investigate the new album the speak of.

    I thought Colin’s voice started off a little shaky but it improved as things went on to where it seems he hasn’t lost much.

    Noticed Can’s Lost Tapes on the shelf in the background. I’m away on vacation but received an email that my order of that had been shipped. Looking forward to that.

    And speaking of “the colour of her hair”, it looks like Rod and Colin might be getting some assistance in that regard…

  3. I’m still trying to think about this. I can think of an artists like Nick Lowe, who dates back to the late-’60s but who wasn’t successful to any degree until sometime later. I don’t think he counts.

    I think a lot of old country artists are also able perform with their prime-time coolness pretty much intact. Country and soul music accepts the aging process. Rock ‘n roll, at least until recently, did not. Rock musicians have to dye their hair, get rugs, and probably worst of all, keep up with new equipment purchases. There’s nothing worse than hearing a great old ’60s song performed by the surviving aging original artists backed by a young band generating the Sam Ash Sound. That was my friend’s severe complaint when he saw whatever form of the Zombies Blunstone and Argent toured under about 5 years ago.

    I would like to propose a new rule: Not only should pointy guitars be outlawed, but if they are going to remain in action only music only performed on pointy guitars should be allowed to use them.

  4. Not sure if rockabilly counts as country or rock but about 10 years ago I saw Wanda Jackson backed by Rosie Flores’ band and she was great (except for a brief encouragement for us to accept Jesus as our savior).

  5. underthefloat

    I’ve never seen Wanda but had noticed she is playing at the MN State Fair this the afternoon. I’ve been curious and you’ve really got me wanting to see her…but then again…10 years older. I wonder how her health is?

    um, regarding thread…I’ve seen the Zombies maybe 10 years ago. Hard to beat in terms of what this post is looking for.

    Finally, I recently watched the rather strange (not always in a good way) BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING. What an odd cameo appearance the band makes. It doesn’t fit the film and they are simply on TV in the background at a bar scene.

  6. machinery

    I’m thinking that the Staples family (all their different incarnations) have managed to still keep their cred, no matter how old they get.

  7. mockcarr

    The Stooges were pretty cool with Mike Watt subbing in alongside the Ashton brothers and Iggy.

  8. cliff sovinsanity

    Exactly what I’m looking for.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    For the record: without question, Lou Reed shows the worst pattern of equipment shittification over his career. One of the reasons I just don’t trust the man’s artistic judgement is because of his unerringly bad taste in guitars as he’s grown older.

  10. BTW, I saw the Zombies on August 5 at the Highline Ballroom with the Left Banke opening. I can report that Blunstone and Argent still bring it in concert, although, regarding Mr. Mod’s Sam Ash Rule, I will deduct a point for the bass player’s use of a headless Steinberger bass.

  11. Thank you for that positive report. That’s good to hear. Reluctant concertgoer that I am, I would be reluctant to ever see them if my friend’s highly disappointed report from a few years ago was all I had to go by. He’s usually not half as picky as I am, so his review was especially alarming.

  12. cliff sovinsanity

    Kind of always thought Time Of The Season was there biggest hit.

  13. cliff sovinsanity

    How was the Left Banke??

  14. BigSteve

    I think Elton John has actually gotten cooler in his golden years. His effort to resurrect Leon Russell reminds me that Leon has been way under the radar but never uncool.

    Speaking of golden years, Bowie gets cooler by the minute for staying retired.

  15. I meant “top” as in in best not as in biggest.

  16. Sorry for the delayed response. I never saw the original band live (I doubt that many did) so I don’t have a point of reference.

    Left Banke 2012 has two original members, Tom Finn and George Cameron, neither of whom was lead singer or principal songwriter/keybs. But with their harmonies, the new Left Banke, including two violins and a cello on stage, sounded close enough to the original recordings to me. I’d certainly recommend seeing them if you get the chance.

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