In 1970 Decca put out The World of the Zombies, a compilation that leaned heavily on material from the band’s 1965 English debut, Begin Here, right down to re-using the original cover. My parents bought it and for a time the Zombies were to me as important a part of the 1960s rock and roll cannon as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones. And yet they were different, exuding a stylish, jazz-infused cool all their own, no doubt due to Colin Blunstone’s breathy vocals and Rod Argent’s distinctive keyboards. In my youth I could never understand why they didn’t seem the make the lists of the great bands from the 1960s. Nor have they spawned the revival of interest we’ve seen accorded to other historic bands since then, i.e. in terms of biographies, documentaries or tribute albums. Only Seattle’s indie Popllama label mustered up their roster of bands to celebrate The World of the Zombies in 1994, featuring the Posies, the Young Fresh Fellows and the Fastbacks, among others.
Well, that seems to be changing. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced this fall that the band would be inducted in 2019 and regardless of what you think of that questionable institution, I welcome the attention to a band that has for too long been overlooked. To aid in that process this blog post will celebrate the great songs of the Zombies, as covered by more recent poprock artists. Funny thing though, as I set out to find said covers – from the obvious hits like “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” and “Time of the Season,” to less obvious gems like “I Love You,” “Indication,” “The Way I Feel Inside,” “You Make Me Feel Good,” “Kind of Girl,” etc. – I discovered that the band’s material has not been covered that much. I was a bit shocked actually. So many truly great compositions overlooked while people put out yet another Beatles or Dylan cover. Hopefully this recent attention will right that wrong.
Now on to the covers. Let’s face it, like the Beatles it’s pretty hard to improve on what the Zombies put down on vinyl. But our stable of talent make a valiant effort! Quiet Company are a perfect choice to cover this band – they have the sonic sophistication and creativity in spades, clearly evident in their inspired and inventive cover of “She’s Not There.” Tennis hold closer to the original version of “Tell Her No” but give up something endearing in their understated delivery. The Posies take up “Leave Me Be” and they have the Zombies vibe down, with an appropriate dollop of 1990s discord. By contrast, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs amp up the melodic sweetness of Odyssey and Oracle’s “Care of Cell 44.” Indie darlings Yo La Tengo craft a lovely low key version of “You Make Me Feel Good.” And, of course, the Zombies themselves were inspired cover artist. The very first version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” I ever heard was by the Zombies and it has remained the defining performance for me.
Tennis – Tell Her NoThe Posies – Leave Me BeMatthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs – Care of Cell 44Yo La Tengo – You Make Me Feel Good
Click on the artist names above to find these super covers and support these artists. It’s also a great time to get caught up on your Zombies catalogue. Check out the Zombies website and Facebook page over 2019 to keep up with what should be an international year of the Zombies!