Friday, July 4, 2014

The Zombies - RIP



The Zombies – R.I.P.

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)





Side A:
1.  She Loves The Way They Love Her
2.  Imagine The Swan
3.  If It Don’t Work Out
4.  Smokey Day
5.  I’ll Keep Trying
6.  Conversation Off Floral Street

Side B:
7.  I’ll Call You Mine
8.  Telescope (Mr. Galileo)
9.  I Know She Will
10.  To Julia (For When She Smiles)
11.  Don’t Cry For Me
12.  Walking In The Sun



This is a reconstruction of what would have been the final Zombies album, an intended 1969 release as a posthumous follow-up to their sleeper-hit Odessey and Oracle.  While all 12 albums tracks were collected in the box set Zombie Heaven in 1997 and then sequenced as originally intended as an official Japanese release in 2008, my reconstruction attempts to create a more well-rounded and cohesive album with a new sequence that more evenly distributes the posthumous 1969 Argent-led tracks with the overdubbed 1964-1966 Blunstone-led outtake tracks, as well as using alternate mixes of both.  Also through creative editing I was able to add more Colin Blunstone vocals to the album and less Rod Argent lead vocals.  In effect, my R.I.P. seems a bit less awkwardly anachronistic, and more a cohesive theoretical baroque-pop follow-up to Odessy and Oracle. 

The Zombies are a perfect example of how sometimes great things can be overlooked and simply fall through the cracks.  Despite consistently producing some of the most well-crafted and well-performed pop-rock songs of the 1960s, the amount of new material from the band approached a near standstill by 1966.  The music scene was becoming increasingly psychedelic and the generally straight-laced Zombies were in danger of becoming irrelevant.  With a label quickly becoming uninterested and a live circuit drying up, they pooled their own scant resources together and financed the recording of their sophomore album, a sink or swim record entitled Odessey and Oracle.  Recorded literally as The Beatles walked out of EMI Studios after completing Sgt. Pepper in 1967, The Zombies utilized the plethora of exotic instruments their British pop brethren left lying around.  Adorning magnificently-written psychedelic pop songs with these instruments as well as serendipitous harmonies, the outcome was one of the greatest masterworks of the 1960s, let alone 1967.  But the unfortunate reality is that relatively few people really paid attention.  The magnificent “Care of Cell 44” ceased to be a hit, live gigs dried up and singer Colin Blunstone, having no stake in The Zombies’ publishing royalties, left the band because he simply didn’t have the money to continue.   The album was released to silence in 1968. 

Yet due to friends in high places—namely Al Kooper who championed the band to Columbia in the US—Odessey and Oracle was given a second chance on the other side of the Atlantic.  But because of the fatal choice to push “Butcher’s Tale” as a single, the album again fell to silence.  It wasn’t until another year passed that radio picked up on “Time of The Season” which propelled the song to an eventual status as an anthem of the Summer of Love, despite being two years late and from a band that had ceased to exist.  But keyboardist Rod Argent and bassist Chris White, whom were already occupied in their current project Argent, were offered the chance to essentially capitalize in the unexpected interest in the dead Zombies who were suddenly undead.  In an effort to create closure to the band that had passed away before it’s time—and a chance to not only clear the vaults but to advertize their band Argent—the pair began work on the final Zombies album, the posthumous R.I.P. 

The plan was simple: the first side of the album was to feature “new” Zombies recordings and the second side of the album to feature newly finished outtakes from the numerous singles-sessions from 1964-1966.  Argent and White collected the best of the series of demos recorded in-between the demise of The Zombies and the formation of Argent, recordings which were used to secure their own record contract.  While sometimes reminiscent of the mid-60s psyche-pop of The Zombies, their songs bared a stronger resemblance to the tail-end of the 60s and the hard rock/prog of Argent.  In stark contrast to this, the outtakes found on side B were simply anachronistic, sounding exactly like they were: tracks recorded around1965 with new layers of lush harmonies and some with new orchestration.  As it stands, R.I.P. sounded more like a document of how far recording techniques had progressed in the 1960s.  Of the Side B tracks, only “Walking In The Sun” approached the soundquality of Side A with newly recorded symphonic instruments and new lead vocal by Colin Blunstone juxtaposed with the backing track dating from a demo session in 1964.  Singles were released for “Imagine The Swan” and a newly-finished “If It Don’t Work Out” (which was originally a 1965 demo for Dusty Springfield), both failing to replicate the success of “Time Of The Season” or even their 1965 hit “Tell Her No” and the R.I.P. album was scrapped. 

Of the 12 songs slated for the album, most trickled out as bonus tracks on various compilations throughout the decades.  It wasn’t until 1997 with the insanely comprehensive four-disc box set Zombie Heaven that the public heard R.I.P., as all 12 of the tracks from the album were featured on the ‘rare/studio outtakes’ disc .  Finally in 2000, the same exact R.I.P. masters as found on Zombie Heaven were released as their own standalone album in correct track sequence, albeit as a Japanese import with numerous bonus tracks (followed by a 2008 compilation of outtakes from this era of the band called Into The Afterlife).  In plain sight—but also apparently as overlooked as  Odessey and Oracle was in 1968—we could hear the bizarre combination of late-60s proto-prog and mid-60s pop.  Perhaps we can have a second memorial service for The Zombies and allow this album to better rest in peace?

My reconstruction of R.I.P. had two main goals:    
1) To resequence the songs and use some alternate mixes so that the vast time difference between recording dates is less-apparent, making the Argent-led songs and the refurbished classic Zombies songs intermingle, in turn making a more cohesive album.  
2) Less Rod Argent and MORE Colin Bluestone!  After all, he was the voice of The Zombies.  To do this we are able to use recordings from Blunstone’s first solo album One Year (produced by fellow Zombies Argent & White), replacing Argent’s vocals with Blunstone’s.  Just as well, we will drop the two weakest Argent-led songs for others, making the album more Zombie-like and less Argent-like.

Side A begins much as the official R.I.P., with “She Loves The Way They love Her”.  Instead we use the version from One Year but with the audience sound effects from the R.I.P. version overdubbed at the appropriate points, effectively “replacing” Argent’s vocals with Blunstone’s.  The R.I.P. mix of “Imagine The Swan” is next, with the orchestral mix of “If It Don’t Work Out”  from the compilation Into The Afterlife following, an attempt to make a more baroque-pop follower to Odessey and Oracle.  Next, Colin Blunstone’s lead vocal from “Smokey Day” is extracted from his One Year album and superimposed into the alternate mix of Argent’s “Smokey Day” (a bonus track on the Repertoire remaster of Odessey and Oracle), again creating a new Colin lead vocal that sings a harmony to Rod’s.  Note that the vocals fall out of sync in the last verse, due to Colin intentionally deviating from the rhythm of the vocal; no attempt was made to change his artistic decision to sing the verse in that manner.  The R.I.P. versions of “If It Don’t Work Out” and “Conversations Off Floral Street” end the side, the later being the only post-break-up song on the album featuring the original Zombies lineup, including guitarist Paul Atkins and drummer Hue Grundy.

Side B opens with the R.I.P. version of “I’ll Call You Mine”, following with an unused Argent track from this era which seemed more appropriately Zombie-esque, “Telescope” from the Into The Afterlife compilation, which replaces “Girl Help Me”.  My own unique edit of “I Know She Will” follows when the first half of the orchestral version from Into The Afterlife is edited together with the second half of the full-band mix found on the R.I.P. album, creating a strong dynamic and emphasizing its orchestration.  Next is another “more Zombies-like Argent track” taken from Into The Afterlife and remixed my myself, the classical “To Julia” which occupies the same idiosyncratic function as “Butcher’s Tale” held on Odessey and Oracle and replaces “I Could Spend The Day”.  The R.I.P. mix of “Don’t Cry for Me” attempts one final ruckus before giving way to my own unique edit of “Walking In The Sun”, again editing the orchestral version from Into The Afterlife onto the full-band R.I.P. mix, creating a wide dynamic.  




Sources used:
The Zombies - Into The Afterlife (2007 Rhino Records)
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle (1992 Repertoire Recrods)
The Zombies - R.I.P. (2008 Imperial Records Japan)
Colin Blunstone - One Year (2007 Water Music Records)


flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


35 comments:

  1. thank you , you continue to put up very interesting efforts

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  2. I think every Zombies fan at some point in their life has begged god for an Odessey & Oracle follow-up to be unearthed. This is necromancy at its finest. Fantastic, sir.

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  3. I really appreciate the effort you put into these re-creations. It is great listening as well as sort of creating a parallel universe of what if albums. Is it hard to come up with future projects or do you have a long list waiting to be created. I think the Grateful Dead mentioned in a previous post would be a great idea.

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    1. Thanks for the kind comments!

      As of right now, I have five more already made (or at least at 90% completion). I of course do requests, and if it's interesting enough it can go ahead of things already made (I had this Zombies reconstruction done in February, but it got pushed back till now!). There were three recent requests that piqued my interest, and I'll see if they can be done. Things that don't pique my interest probably will never be made, though...

      I'm amazed how long this blog has lasted because I probably only had about ten albums in mind when I started it in 2012. So certainly without your guys' great ideas, this blog would be dead! So keep em coming! Never any guarantees that one would be done, but you never know!

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  4. Wow, sir, you have one hell of a blog. Very much digging some of the Floyd recreations, along with the superlative Velvet Underground IV and Nirvana's non-existent (until now) Sheep. I think Abbey Road was the ultimate end for the Beatles, but your alternate history is still pretty groovy to consider.

    You may dig the psychedelic vibrations over at my blog:
    http://psychedelicobscurities.blogspot.com

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  5. Hey, on the Beach Boys angle, how about a late 60's/early 70's Dennis Wilson album?

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  6. I would love to see Return to pepper land or pink floyd if roger waters didn't leave the band.

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  7. This Zombies album is a fine piece of work - thank you.

    I mentioned the Floyd's soundtrack to The Committee in an older comment. Although there isn't much music - about twenty minutes I think - it could, when stripped of dialogue, make an interesting e.p., and complete their commissioned soundtrack works.

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  8. Thank you for your great contributions to the Blogosphere, you obviously put a lot of thought and work into your re-creations and they are some of the best I have ever heard. I just discovered your blog and really appreciate the Nirvana, Beach Boys, VU and Mothers Of Invention works and of course this missing chapter of the Zombies

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  9. I've always enjoyed these tracks individually but had never heard them put together into a convincing LP before. This is a really nice set! I've got a great fondness for the demo version of "She Loves the Way They Love Her" on the INTO THE AFTERLIFE set, but otherwise this disc has all my go-to versions for RIP now. Thanks!!

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  10. Site is AWESOME! I love doing this with a buddy of mine - build our own "lost" albums and compare. Great work and a huge thank you.
    A Few ideas:
    3rd CSNY album (after Deja Vu - looking at their output soon after - would have been a masterpiece) -- this is not Human Highway - think 71-72 and all their solo albums

    Wilburys: 3 album or what their tour would have been like

    Zep: the next album - Mix of Coda and tunes from solo output - not easy but could be interesting

    Dead: After Amer. Beauty -- what could have been that album if Jerry and Bobby didn't do solo stuff?

    BRUCE: Got to be some good ones here

    Prince - lots of material and stories!

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  11. Thanks for this. Your blog is a thing of wonder - you have an unerring ability to shake the listener's belief in the history of pop. Surely this really was the Zombies' follow-up to Odessey ? And sold by the bucket-load, resulting in their reformation & consolidating them as one of the major successful bands of the early 70s ? If only...

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  12. Thank you very much. This is truly appreciated.

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  13. It's official now. Came out in May: http://www.amazon.com/r-i-p-Zombies/dp/B00IV5F2KO/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1405479352&sr=1-1&keywords=zombies+r.i.p.&dpPl=1

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  14. Thank you so very much! Your blog is incredible!

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  15. I adore this album. I've always fantasized about a followup album. I have just thought of the perfect album-that-never-was....

    Beach Boys - '67 - LEI'D IN HAWAII!

    If I may speak for any if not all BB fans.. "...t'would be a godsend."

    Also -
    VM - Mechanical Bliss
    BW - Brian Loves You
    PF - Household Objects (not sure if most tapes exist)

    But once again, thank you for all your hard work. God knows we all lack your sorcery.

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  16. Oh and by "Lei'd in Hawaii" I'm referring to the Wally Heider sessions, not the actual Hawaii concerts. I have 8 pretty flawless officially-released/booted tracks and there's a plethora of bootlegs circulating with poor quality recordings. I suppose the real question is, do you have the mechanisms to increase sound quality?

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  17. I like the idea of using the 'Lei'd in Hawaii' Heider sessions alongside some Smiley Smile sessions as a minimalist Beach Boys project, perhaps in a timeline where Smile is released mid '67 (production and all), then the minimal album in late 1967 with side 1 old tunes done in that style, and side 2 a mix of re-recorded Smile tunes and the odd new song?

    Some more ideas:
    * Velvet Underground & John Cale - 1970 album combining the best of 'Loaded' & John Cale's 'Vintage Violence' - they certainly have some country-ish leanings in common. Either Cale never leaves the VU, or rejoins for one last hurrah

    * Cream & Steve Winwood - 1969 album drawing from the Blind Faith tracks & Jack Bruce's solo debut album 'Songs for a Taylor' ("What if Cream stayed together for one more album, recruiting Steve to fill-out their sound?")

    * Lou Reed/John Cale albums from the mid '70s: Basically mixing Lou's Sally Can't Dance/Coney Island Baby albums with John Cale's Fear/Slow Dazzle/Helen of Troy albums - the Coney Island Baby reissue has some great bonus track outtakes with a real rough edge. You could get 2-3 albums out of that potentially

    * Roxy Music albums post-1973 with Eno still in the band. (Mix mid-70s Roxy with Mid-70s Eno "pop" albums)

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  18. My sentiments precisely. That's exactly what I did on my "alternate universe" playlist. Oh, how the grass is much greener in that other reality.

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  19. One other (more recent) set of albums that could be done is Blur if Graham Coxon never left. Take the best of his solo albums and add them to tracks from Blur & Gorillaz albums.
    You can even get a nice album mixing 'The Good The Bad & The Queen' with the Coxon solo album released around the same time..

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    1. Oh hey I actually did just that! It's basically the 5 best (imo) songs from Think Tank with 7 songs from around that time frame in which Graham Coxon did play on. It looks like this:

      1. Music is My Radar (The Best Of single)
      2. Out of Time
      3. All is Gone (from Graham's 2001 solo album Crow Sit on Blood Tree)
      4. Crazy Beat
      5. Some Glad Morning (Think Tank outtake with Graham on it)
      6. Caravan
      7. We Got A File On You
      8. Morricone (Think Tank outtake with Graham on it)
      9. Sweet Song (Graham's not on it, but it's about him!)
      10. The Outsider (Think Tank outtake with Graham on it)
      11. Battery in Your Leg (the only Think Tank song Graham did play on)
      12. Black Book (from The Best Of sessions)

      You could also swap some Graham-less Think Tank songs with the outtakes from the 2000 Best Of sessions found on the box set (like "1" and "3"), but they sound a bit meandering and unfinished to my ear, so I just opted to use the Think Tank songs that are Graham-esque, like Crazy Beat or We Got A File On You.

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    2. Love this blog by the way, your write ups are just as interesting as the music! Since you're talking Blur ... there is an interesting story and lost album in the period between Leisure and Modern Life is Rubbish. If I understand it right, the commercial failure of the Popscene single made the group abandon various planned songs/recordings. When work picked up again for their second album, they had issues settling on a producer (Andy Partridge didn't work out) and their UK label rejected the first submitted version of LP2. Blur wrote more material but then later the US label had issues with Modern Life and swapped out some versions, added some bsides etc. In later years Albarn would publicly complain about the tracklist (exclusion of certain songs, inclusion of others). A friend who is a Blur aficionado claims most of the rejected material has surfaced on bsides and boxsets, and at the very least there's an interesting alternate album from this era to be compiled.

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    3. Hmmm, thanks for the tip, I'll look into it and see what I can do!

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  20. Here's one I made for a 2007 Blur album.
    Tracks from 'The Good The Bad and the Queen' & Graham's 'Love Travels at Illegal Speeds' album - turns out to be a nice - although rather downbeat - listen

    Graham songs marked with (*)

    1. History Song
    2. Don't Believe anything I say (*)
    3. '80s Life
    4. Kingdom of Doom
    5. Flights to the Sea [Lovely Rain] (*)
    6. Northern Whale
    7. Herculean
    8. See a Better Day (*)
    9. The Bunting Song
    10. Green Fields
    11. Just a State of Mind (*)
    12. The Good The Bad & The Queen

    I also made a 2001 Blur album mix (Gorillaz + 3 tracks from Crow Sit on Blood Tree, with 'Music is My Radar' chucked in there), and a 2005 Blur album (Demon Days + a handful of tracks from Graham's 'Happiness in Magazines') - it's certainly do-able. Might post those later when I have more time...

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  21. Oh, and for the Think Tank era, I went for splitting the songs from that, Crow Sit on Blood Tree, and The Kiss of Morning into two 2003 albums - one upbeat and the other quiet & rather sad.

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  22. How about a "Studio" version of Band Of Gypsys (instead of the Live album release)?

    Sources used could be: Buddy Miles - We Got To Live Together
    Jimi Hendrix - West Coast Seattle Boy (anthology)
    Jimi Hendrix - South Saturn Delta
    Baggy Rehearsal Sessions (Bootleg)
    1969 Studio (Bootleg)

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  23. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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  24. Hello,
    Found by chance your blog. Congratulations for the job you do and your patience to rewrite history.
    With a little advance I wish you a very nice musical new year,
    Best regards from France,
    Robert

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  25. WOW! Weird to say, but this Zombies not-album may be my favorite Zombies album!

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  26. I'd really like to see you tackle AFIs Sing the Sorrow since all of the b-sides have been released over the past 12 years

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  27. Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Centri Records is a New York based independent record label owned by Rhandy Acosta. It originated as a way for local talent from Queens, NY. Rhoyale’s new single Tonight is now available on Apple Music and Google Play. Add it to your playlist today.

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  28. I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    Qassim & QU

    ReplyDelete