After Half A Century, The Zombies Still Got That Hunger

With their new album + a tour of their classic Odessey and Oracle, the band is more alive than ever.

The Zombies are perhaps the most aptly named band in history. The group has been declared dead many times over, very nearly going the way of countless mid-’60s British Invasion groups who were cast out with the advent of psychedelia and hard rock. But the Zombies are still alive, still making music, and still packing venues. And, as the title of their new album suggests, they’ve Still Got That Hunger.

The group’s very survival is one of the most compelling stories in rock. Following a pair of successful pop singles, the immortal “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” the band split after their 1967 masterpiece Odessey and Oracle was released to general indifference. Two years after their demise, they scored a posthumous worldwide smash with the album cut, “Time of the Season.” Despite the sales, the band remained dormant for decades, during which time their reputation grew exponentially. Odessey and Oracle, all but ignored upon issue, was hailed as a favorite by some of music’s leading lights, including Dave Grohl, Robert Plant, and Paul Weller, It wasn’t label promotion or a choice soundtrack placement—it was simply word of mouth and the undeniable strength of their music.

A serendipitous chain of events reunited vocalist Colin Bunstone with organist/composer Rod Argent in the 21st century, and the duo have released several albums credited both to their own names and also their more famous band moniker. But Still Got That Hunger is their first work that openly pays tribute to the Zombies’ remarkable endurance. Hardly a the final chapter —Argent and Blunstone have plenty of music left in them— the record feels like the completion of the circle. Moreover, it feels like a band embracing their hard-won legacy at long last.

This is evident even in the album’s vibrant neo-psychedelic cover, painted by original Odessey and Oracle artist Terry Quirk. But obviously it’s the music that really counts. The baroque ’n’ roll “Chasing The Past” and the Steely Dan-esque bossa nova groove of “And We Were Young Again” both take a wistful look at time passing. But perhaps the most poignant track is “New York,” a love letter to the city that embraced them during their first American tour in 1964. And fans from that era will be thrilled to hear the revisited Zombies single “I Want You Back Again,” which has gotten even more fierce with age.

The entire album is surprisingly hard for men in their 70s. The guitar-work from honorary Zombie Tom Toomey is pure fire, and father-son rhythm section of Jim and Steve Rodford (bass and drums, respectively) doesn’t play nice—and we mean that as a compliment. Together, they somehow managed to record an album that sounds perfectly contemporary, yet no different than the classic music we’ve come to love from the Zombies. How did they do this? It’s a testament to their one-of-a-kind sound, which is quite literally timeless.

The five are currently on the American leg of their world-wide tour, but they’re got something special in store for fans. In addition to tracks from Still Got That Hunger, Argent and Blunstone are reuniting with the surviving original Zombies Chris White and Hugh Grundy to perform Odessey and Oracle in its entirety. Perfectly balancing the old with the new, it’s a hell of a victory lap.

What’s it like being a Zombie on the prowl these days? Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone were kind enough to tell me.

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