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August 13th, 2003 Godfre Leung | Music Stories
 

"How We Were Before"

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent bring the Zombies to life.

     
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Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent
For a while in the late '60s, there were "Zombies" everywhere. It had become quite lucrative for bands to masquerade as the Zombies in the wake of the British-invasion-era band's posthumous hit "Time of the Season." In fact, when members of the broken-up Zombies first reunited at the end of the decade, it was mostly to reactivate the trademark on the band name and put an end to an impostor band.

"I think it helped to stop them from performing," says former Zombies vocalist Colin Blunstone. "Although I was told later that a disappointed fan threatened [the impostors] with a gun--I think that probably helped to discourage them as well."

Though more impostor bands emerged over the years, the ex-Zombies have long since given up the fight. "I wouldn't do it again," reflects Blunstone. "I just think we have to concentrate on priorities, and my priorities are to write and record music."

Good thing those priorities involve former Zombies keyboardist and songwriter Rod Argent. The reunion of the two does more to prevent the disappointment of Zombies fans than even a gun-toting enthusiast.

The Zombies may not be the first thing to come to mind when Blunstone and Argent play. Without the full band, Argent's keyboard is front and center. And it's not like Blunstone and Argent have been in a cave since the Zombies broke up in 1968; the duo updates the R&B influences from their British Invasion days with a clear debt to the soul and Motown of the '70s.

Still, the combination of Argent's songwriting and Blunstone's soulful, unmistakably British voice is immediately familiar. "In some ways," says Blunstone, "it's almost a continuation of the Zombies. It is slightly different personnel, but there are definitely some resonances of the Zombies in what we're doing now."

The Zombies resonance can be found across the spectrum of popular music. But, make no mistake, the duo of Blunstone and Argent--which incorporates a dozen Zombies songs into its live set--is the real thing. When Argent first rejoined Blunstone in 2001, it was as if it were still 1966, and Brit-pop meant the Beatles and the Small Faces.

"It felt like we'd played two weeks before," says Blunstone, "when in fact it had been about 30 years since we'd played regularly together."

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent play Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., 233-1994. 7 pm. $20 advance, $22 door. All ages.

 
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