Although the "of" is pretty small on the two-disc CD cover, at least they put it in there. Instead of claiming that their concert CD/DVD is a "Zombies album," much as the wholly forgettable faux-reunion disc As Far As I Can See attempted, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent bill themselves as "of the Zombies" on the new Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London (Rhino).
Sure, the Zombies trade name gets the bigger, brighter lettering, but this is as close to truth-in-packaging as you get in rock 'n' roll. And, besides, Colin and Rod were essential parts of the beloved sixties group – unlike, say, the 80s reunion of the Guess Who that only contained the band's original bass-player – even if the rest of the group isn't. In place of bassist/songwriter Chris White, you've got Argent's former bass-player (Jim Rodford, also with the Kinks during their Low Budget era) and that bass player's son (Steve) on drums; former guitarist Paul Atkinson died several years ago, so in his spot is another young muso Keith Airey.
In any event, the current configuration sounds like the Zombies, thankfully, and a large part of the credit there resides with vocalist Blunstone, who was primary voice on all of the band's big hits. Though the guy definitely looks (as the DVD reveals) the worst for wear, he sounds as good as ever: pretty amazing when you consider that his instrument is so boyishly poppy, usually one of the hardest sounds to sustain over the years. Soon as he launches into the yearningly optimistic "This Will Be Our Year," a track from the band's classic Odessey And Oracle and the second song on both CD and DVD, the audience lets its breath out, secure in the knowledge that our man can still sing 'em like he useta.
For lovers of the Zombies' O&O, this concert set is a particular pleasure, since it's the first time that either Blunstone or Argent have played that material in public – the original group disbanded not long after that LP's original release. The DVD gives us four tracks from that album – "Year," "A Rose for Emily," "Beechwood Park" and, of course, the album's hit single "Time of the Season" – while the two-disc CD set adds album opener "Care of Cell 44" (recently done by Matthew Sweet and Susannah Hoffs on their 60's cover disc) to the mix. Of the five songs, only "Season" comes across as appreciably lesser-than in its concert version, largely due to the band's decision to lightly speed up the tempo at the expense of the song's loping sinuousness. The poignant "Emily" is done with just Colin and a counter-singing Rod on piano, and the effect is just lovely.