With three massive worldwide hits — "Time of the Season," "Tell Her No," and "She's Not There" — that positioned them at the top of the charts during the height of the British Invasion with a style encapsulating jazz, blues, classical, and progressive pop, the Zombies created a sound that helped define the 1960s and earned them enduring fame.
By 1968, the band was no more, but in its wake, the Zombies left behind a brilliant final opus, Odessey and Oracle, sealing their legacy as on the same plateau as the Beatles and Beach Boys in terms of imagination and creative expression.
Keyboardist/composer Rod Argent went on to form Argent, while singer Colin Blunstone embarked on a solo career, bass player Chris White turned to songwriting, guitarist Paul Atkinson went into A&R at Columbia Records, and drummer Hugh Grundy quit the biz altogether to became a car salesman.
In 1999, Argent and Blunstone reconvened as a duo to record a new album, Out of the Shadows. Later, after opting to reclaim the Zombies moniker, they recruited Argent bassist Jim Rodford, his son Steve Rodford on drums, and guitarist Don Airey (later to be replaced by Tom Toomey), resurrecting the band as their full-time occupation.
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"It happened very naturally," Argent says of that reunion. "Colin and I got back together purely to make music as a duo, and we had such a good time doing that that we gradually decided to do more and more gigs, and the thing slowly gathered momentum."
At that point, says Argent, two things happened: "We found promoters billing us as the Zombies when we turned up for gigs. And secondly, we started to realize there was a whole stock of Zombies material that we never played the first time around, so it became a discovery experience to investigate these songs and play them for the first time."
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In its latest incarnation, the Zombies have continued their forward lurch, their aptly titled new album, Still Got That Hunger, receiving some of the best notices of their collective career. "There was no way we were attempting to copy things we had done in the past," Argent assures. "But I think because we wanted to record the album in a very organic way... we were able to capture a feeling and capture a performance... The whole thing felt so honest and natural, because we replicated that early approach."
Argent has always written Zombies music with Blunstone's voice in mind. "I’ve always been influenced by some natural spheres of music — jazz voicings, classical music, et cetera — although I never consciously try to put those things in," he says. "It’s always just there in the background, the way it was with the Zombies’ early material. Colin’s voice sounds so natural and fresh. It really sounds the way it did on those early Zombies recordings.”
Still, Argent makes a point of saying he's not the type to get swept up by nostalgia. "We're not chasing the past," he maintains. "As the lyric to one of the new songs says, and I quote, 'Yesterday is gone, and that's just as well. We'll take tomorrow and give it hell.' We're really looking forward."
8 p.m. Thursday, February 25, at Parker Playhouse,707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $37.50 to $57.50 plus fees. Visit ticketmaster.com.