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CRITICS CHOICE
THIS FORD'S GOT HORSEPOWER
1/19/18
Ford Madox Ford is (in addition to the name of a famed novelist) the moniker of the edgy new project by O.G. punk firebrands Chip and Tony Kinman. The brothers, best known as the tandem musical engine behind The Dils and cowpunk legends Rank & File, combine Velvets and Chicago blues influences on the new project; they'll drop debut full-length This American Blues digitally on 2/2 (with a blue vinyl edition out 2/16) via the wonderful label Porterhouse Records. Check out their topical track "Dark American Night" below; you'll find it and another new single, "Promised," here. Porterhouse, of course, has put out some delectable X and other classic punk vinyl, and label boss Steve Kravac is a pretty spiffy artist/producer in his own right. But more about that later.
A STARMAN TRIBUTE
1/10/18
As we acknowledge the second anniversary of legendary icon David Bowie's passing, Spotify has assembled a This Is: David Bowie playlist to honor his continuing legacy. In addition to the playlist that features 71 songs from all over the wide span of his prolific career, Spotify has put together rankings of Bowie's most beloved songs, which you'll find below. You can have your own "moonage daydream" accompanied by the Starman's standards on Spotify here. Top Bowie Songs on Spotify (Global)1. "Heroes"2. "Under Pressure"3. "Starman"4. "Let's Dance"5. "Rebel Rebel"6. "Space Oddity"7. "Life On Mars?"8. "Modern Love"9. "Moonage Daydream"10. "Ziggy Stardust"Top Bowie Songs by Country on Spotify (U.S.)1. "Under Pressure"2. "Heroes"3. "Space Oddity"4. "Let's Dance"5. "Starman"6. "Moonage Daydream"7. "Rebel Rebel"8. "Modern Love"9. "Life On Mars?"10. "Ziggy Stardust"Top Cities that Listen to Bowie on Spotify (U.S.)1. New Orleans, Louisiana2. Portland, Oregon3. Somerville, Massachusetts4. New York, New York5. Berkeley, California6. Eugene, Oregon7. Cambridge, Massachusetts8. Boulder, Colorado9. Seattle, Washington10. Austin, Texas
TWO ICONS, NO WAITING
1/4/18
Sting revisits his Jamaican influences in tandem with the genuine article—dancehall star Shaggy—on a new song, “Don’t Make Me Wait,” which the duet partners teased live on air Wednesday while visiting Jamaica’s biggest station, Irie FM, in Ocho Rios. The snippet can be heard below. The song will be the first release from the two artists’ joint (don’t even) recording sessions, which took place late last year. This Saturday, 1/6, Sting and Shaggy will debut “Don’t Make Me Wait” live on the lawns of Kingston’s Jamaica House in front of an anticipated 20k people at the Shaggy & Friends charity concert to benefit the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston. The studio version of “Don’t Make Me Wait” will be released worldwide on Friday, 2/2. Sting and Shaggy are shooting a video for the song in Jamaica on 1/7. What took them so long?
THOMAS GETS SET FOR A CAUSE
1/3/18
Benefiting his Sidewalk Angels Foundation, which funds no-kill animal shelters and rescues across the nation, Rob Thomas will be performing sold-out shows at Atlantic City's Borgata Casino Music Box 1/12-1/14. Unlike the seven annual shows he's done for Sidewalk Angels at this venue in the past, these performances will be available to take home via Set.fm powered by VNUE. Fans can download the Set.fm app to their phones or head here to pre-purchase the performances which will feature material from Thomas' critically acclaimed solo albums in addition to Matchbox Twenty songs. The content will be available for download immediately after each concert ends."Rob has always been a trailblazer in finding new ways for fans to enjoy his shows, first with USB wristbands, and later with innovations such as 360 video and Holograms," Rob's management said. "VNUE's Set.fm platform is an emerging technology that adds in a brand new revenue stream providing direct benefit to the Sidewalk Angels Foundation, and Rob is blazing that trail once again."
YOUR LAST-MINUTE GIFT GUIDE
12/19/17
Our resident would-be music critics have some suggestions for you, drawn primarily from the handiwork of our friends at the catalog labels. The advantage of physical product, as we say in the biz, is that you can gift wrap it. The Byrds, Live at the Fillmore – February 1969 (Retroworld/Floating World): Roger McGuinn had the core of his second and final long-running lineup in place when The Byrds took the Fillmore stage in February 1969 behind their just-released seventh LP, Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde. Live at the Fillmore documents the initial phase of McGuinn’s reboot, as the wildly original guitarist Clarence White wends his way into the mix. (Bud Scoppa) Sonny Clark Trio, The 1960 Time Sessions (Tompkins Square): A Black Friday Record Store Day release, Josh Rosenthal’s Tompkins Square has unearthed a forgotten session of all originals from the post-bop pianist best known for his Blue Note classic Cool Struttin’. (Phil Gallo) The Doors, Strange Days 50th Anniversary Edition (Rhino): Enthusiasts of the L.A. trailblazers’ sophomore set, which dropped mere months after their eponymous 1967 debut, will rejoice at this package, which boasts both stereo and mono mixes. You’ll find hits (“Love Me Two Times,” “People Are Strange”), quintessential deep cuts (“Moonlight Drive,” “When the Music’s Over”) and flat-out strangeness (“Horse Latitudes”); taken together, it’s a dazzling snapshot of one of rock’s most adventurous bands challenging—and transforming—the mainstream it had only recently breached. (Simon Glickman) Bob Dylan, Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 (Columbia/Legacy): An overview of the most unexpected period of Dylan’s career, his spiritual years during which he exclusively wrote and performed songs of praise, worship and devotion. At the time he alienated much of his fan base, but in retrospect, the work is often deep and strikingly well performed. (PG) Electric Light Orchestra, Out of the Blue: 40th Anniversary Picture Disc LP (Epic/Sony Legacy): Jeff Lynne’s 1977 masterpiece is impossible not to associate with its spaceship cover art, and that striking imagery is right on the vinyl of this gorgeous two-platter set. But nothing is more transporting than the music itself, a glorious marriage of art-rock ambition and swooning pop bliss. Even if you’ve never heard Blue in its entirety, you know the singles—the sublime “Mr. Blue Sky,” the propulsive but bittersweet “Turn to Stone,” the infectious “Sweet Talking Woman”—but there are plenty of other gems amid the chugging cellos, sci-fi synth bloops and choirboy harmonies. For the pop nerd on your list, the return of this extraplanetary craft is as exciting as The Last Jedi. (SG) Husker Du, Savage Young Du (Numero Group): Gloriously well-packaged set collects the Minneapolis/St. Paul trio’s 1979-82 recordings, when they were the rising stars in the city’s hardcore scene. Land Speed Record and Everything Falls Apart receive much-needed sonic upgrades. (PG) Morphine, Live at the Warfield 1997 (Run Out Groove/Ryko/WMG): Warner Music created Run Out Groove this year to issue out of print or never-released records based on fan voting, the Morphine collection becoming its second limited edition set. Set captures this unique trio—Mark Sandman on two-string bass, Dana Colley on saxophones, Billy Conway on drums—on a powerful night, two years before Sandman tragically died. (PG) Chris Price, Stop Talking (Omnivore): The L.A.-based indie Omnivore, co-founded and headed by longtime Rhino mainstay Cheryl Pawelski, is primarily a catalog label specializing in classic power-pop bands like Jellyfish, The Raspberries and, most obsessively, the Big Star family tree. So it would be understandable if you mistook Chris Price’s album, with its ornate arrangements, elegant melodies and beguiling vocals, for a newly discovered gem from the golden age of SoCal recording in the 1970s. In fact, Stop Talking is the work of a 32-year-old Miami transplant steeped in the sacred texts of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Emitt Rhodes—whose comeback album Price produced. L.A. Times writer Randall Roberts has listed Stop Talking as one of his top 10 L.A. albums of 2017. I have it in my top five of this year’s releases overall. This record is a stone revelation. (BS) The Ramones, Rocket to Russia: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino): This 1977 set, featuring “Rockaway Beach,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” “Teenage Lobotomy” and other classic cuts, gets the deluxe treatment with Rhino’s typically meticulous packaging. Featuring three CDs containing multiple album mixes, bonus tracks and a live show recorded in Glasgow as well as an LP boasting the new “Tracking Mix,” it’s a reminder of the raw energy and devotion to the foundational virtues of rock that made this band such a vital corrective to the glossy, self-involved pop excesses of the period. (SG) The Rolling Stones, On Air (UMe): The young Stones in all their scrappy glory—covers of the blues and R&B tunes they cut their teeth on, along with some early originals recorded live between 1963 and ’65 for various BBC radio shows. Spring for the deluxe version, a two-disc comp containing 32 tracks, eight of them never cut for any of their studio LPs. The set, a quintessential slab of rock & roll that vividly captures the Brian Jones lineup, is held together by the sublime drumming of Charlie Watts, who maintains behind-the-beat order amid the threatened chaos. The only knock is the seemingly random sequencing—a puzzling decision when a chronological running order would’ve intriguingly documented The Stones’ evolution. (BS) Luther Russell, Selective Memories: An Anthology (Ungawa/Hanky Panky): Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for this comp, released by a Spanish label. Here’s a snippet: Known by musical scholars and A&R veterans as the former frontman of The Freewheelers, a terrific if laughably unrecouped L.A. band that burned through a pair of major-label deals in the early ’90s, Luther Russell has been dreaming up and crafting high-end music, mostly far below the radar, since his teens—a mountain of it, much of it unreleased until now. Of the 41 cuts on Selective Memories: An Anthology, 25 have remained in his cache since they were recorded, heard by only his inner circle. Selective Memories opens, fittingly, with a tangle of static, as 17-year-old Luther jams the jack into his amp and fires off a fusillade of staccato riffage. It closes a more than two and a half hours later with “The Sound of Rock & Roll,” from now-47-year-old artist’s current work in progress, Medium Cool, which comes across as both lament and celebration. Between these bookends is a wildly varied array of lastingly immediate, deeply heartfelt, self-revealing music, from self-flagellating dirges to ecstatic anthems, each preserving a moment in time. (BS) The Scorpions, Born to Touch Your Feelings: Best of Rock Ballads (RCA Legacy): If you only know the Scorps’ blazing hits, you might be surprised by the tenderness on display here—and a musicality that betrays the band’s fondness for older European song tropes (holy shit, is that accordion?). Sure, there are fiery guitar solos galore, but what comes through most strongly—on the title track, “Still Loving You,” “Always Be With You,” “The Best Is Yet to Come,” “Gypsy Life” and other cuts—is the sturdiness of the melodies. Some may find the metal ballad vibe cheesy, but as I revisit these songs, they feel surprisingly apt for the holidays—by turns as crisp as a snowy night and comforting as a fireside—even if the sensibility is more Viking than Christian. (SG) Various artists, Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Deluxe Edition (Epic Soundtrax/Legacy Recordings): Cameron Crowe moved from SoCal to Seattle in the late ’80s, giving him a first-hand view of the city’s grunge explosion, which so inspired him that he decided to write and direct his third film with the vibrant scene as its setting. The film and Crowe’s astutely assembled soundtrack didn’t just ride grunge’s momentum, they pumped up the volume by capturing the scene in context. The expanded reissue adds 18 previously unreleased tracks to the original album, which includes Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone in all their early fury. (BS) Wilco, A.M.: Deluxe Edition, Being There: Deluxe Edition (Rhino): When Jeff Tweedy cobbled together Wilco in 1994 out of Uncle Tupelo’s spare parts, nobody expected much. But the fledgling band’s 1995 debut album A.M. revealed that UT’s low-keyed former second banana had something to say and a character-rich vocal instrument to get it across… (read more) (BS) Teddy Wilson, Classic Brunswick & Columbia Teddy Wilson Sessions 1934-42 (Mosaic Records): A seven-CD set of swing's most important pianist, beginning when Wilson was 22 and working with an assortment of small bands and as a solo. Loren Schoenberg wrote the booklet. (PG) Yes, Topographic Drama (Rhino): These 2016 live recordings are part of “The Album Series,” finding survivors of the prog troupe—which lost co-founder/bassist Chris Squire in 2015—revisiting some of the more polarizing material from its catalog. Even for hardcore Yes fans (of which I’m one), it sounds like a big ask, as only Steve Howe and Alan White are here to represent the band’s glory days. Singer Jon Davison emulates Jon Anderson’s clarion high notes gymnastically, while Billy Sherwood fields the bass with assurance, though he lacks Squire’s rumbling inspiration. But since the Buggles-infused 1980 outing Drama is on the menu, it’s fitting that Geoff Downes handles keys. That album occupies a knotty perch between the band’s pomp-rock excursions and the streamlined pop that revitalized their career in the ’80s, but it holds up reasonably well—even if placing its six rangy tracks next to stone classics like “And You and I” and “Heart of the Sunrise” removes some of the luster. Still, the real meal is a meaty chunk from Yes’ most indulgent, sprawling and intermittently staggering creation, the 1973 double-LP Tales From Topographic Oceans. The nearly 22-minute “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn),” which kicks off disc 2, is stellar, and “Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)” remains on the loveliest Yes daydreams of the era. Cap it off with live perennials “Roundabout” and the sublime “Starship Trooper” and you have a pretty satisfying proggy adventure. Howe remains one of the most exciting guitarists of the form, and really stretches out here. It may not be prime Yes, but the players handle this challenging material with energy, feeling and finesse. (SG) Neil Young, Original Release Series 5-8, Original Release Series 8.5-12 (Reprise): Remastered from the original analog master studio and approved by the notoriously exacting Mr. Young, the first set includes Time Fades Away, On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, and Zuma; set two is Long May You Run (from The Stills-Young Band), American Stars 'N' Bars, Comes a Time, Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust. Vital recordings across the board, the sets are limited to 3,000 each. (PG) BOOKS AND MOVIES: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (UMe): John Scheinfeld’s finely detailed documentary on the influential saxophonist’s impact on a wide collection of musicians, intellectuals and fans. The DVD includes 43 minutes of bonus footage. (PG) Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony de Curtis: The definitive biography of New York’s rock & roll sage, de Curtis goes deep into Reed’s life to reveal the truths that informed his art. (PG) Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen by Bill Bentley: Drummer/journalist/label exec and all-around good guy Bill Bentley provides the text accompanying stellar concert photographs of rock & roll heroes. A rare mingling of the work from pro and amateur shooters. (PG)
WILCO'S FORMATIVE YEARS DETAILED
12/19/17
By Bud Scoppa Wilco, A.M.: Deluxe Edition, Being There: Deluxe Edition (Rhino): When Jeff Tweedy cobbled together Wilco in 1994 out of Uncle Tupelo’s spare parts, nobody expected much. But the fledgling band’s 1995 debut album A.M. revealed that UT’s low-keyed former second banana had something to say and a character-rich vocal instrument to get it across. “At the time, I wrote a lot of songs just sitting on the couch, just me and acoustic guitar,” Tweedy explained during a 2005 conversation. “And those arrangements went on the record. I think it’s a unique-sounding record, and I don’t think that I’ve ever written a song better than ‘Passenger Side’ in terms of just making a totally straightforward narrative happen in a song, and making it all work. That’s all I’ve ever asked of any song.” The eight outtakes added to the reissue—including bass player John Stirratt’s “When You Find Trouble, the last song recorded under the UT nameplate, and Tweedy’s Replacements-style ragged rocker “Hesitation Rocks”—reinforce the initial perception of Wilco as a shaggily engaging alt-country band more approachable than UT leader Jay Farrar’s austere Son Volt. If A.M. appeared to introduce a rootsy American band that sought to follow in the footsteps of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the sprawling double CD Being There, recorded with the A.M. core lineup plus multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett and released the following year, found Tweedy unexpectedly and self-assuredly “drawing outside the lines,” as he put it to me at the time. Or, as Steven Hyden explains in his insightful reissue liner notes, Tweedy “needed to figure out a new approach to his art—something a little less literal and a whole lot more improvisational, so Wilco could retain the gravitas of roots music without being hemmed in by it.” His risk-taking not only resulted in a latter-day Exile on Main St., it also set the template for one of the greatest, most beloved American bands of the last quarter century. The five-CD expanded reissue is loaded with goodies: one disc containing eight alternate takes and seven demos and outtakes, all previously unreleased, and a 20-song Troubadour set from November 1996 spanning two discs. This performance, recorded for a Reprise promo piece, documents the band taking flight from its four-square beginnings to the stratosphere. The final disc is tagged with a masterful four-song mini-set performed live on air for KCRW. Without question, Being There: Deluxe Edition is an essential addition to the Wilco canon.
JANUARY=JAZZFEST IN NYC
12/15/17
At January’s Winter Jazzfest in New York, the largest collection of jazz performances concentrated into a single week in the country, Blue Note’s Jose James will kick off his Bill Withers tribute tour, nearly two dozen musicians will pay tribute to the late pianist Gerri Allen and Ravi Coltrane will oversee a salute to his mother, Alice Coltrane. Held 1/10-17 at more than a dozen locations in lower Manhattan, the event will feature performances from artists whose names are popping up on multiple Top 10 lists for their 2017 albums: Nicole Mitchell, Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa Indo-Pak Coalition, Matt Wilson's Honey & Salt and Charnett Moffett among them. Unique events of note include The Invisible Man, An Orchestral Tribute to Dr. Dre at Bowery Ballroom on 1/13; the Sun Ra Arkestra performing the score to the film Space Is The Place at the New School Tishman Auditorium on 1/13; and Gilles Peterson hosting a British Jazz Showcase on 1/10 with The Comet is Coming, Oscar Jerome and Yazz Ahmed. Terri Lyne Carrington will lead the Gerri Allen tribute on 1/15 with Esperanza Spalding, Jack DeJohnette, Jaimeo Brown, Jeff Tain Watts and Iyer among the participants. James shares the bill on 1/11 at (le) poisson rouge with My Brightest Diamond, Knower and the No BS! Brass Band. Flutist Nicole Mitchell (pictured) will be the busiest of all the musicians as she is performing four times with four different bands: Art and Anthem For Gwendolyn Brooks with Jason Moran on 1/12 at New School Tishman Auditorium; with her trio at Subculture on 1/13; Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds on 1/16 at (le) poisson rouge; and Maroon Cloud on 1/17 at (le) poisson rouge. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey performs at the 1/16 show; Deerhoof and Wadada Leo Smith are on the 1/17 bill. For a full list of performances and ticket info, click here.
THE HOLIDAYS ARE HEATING UP AT UMe
11/17/17
Pictured having a traumatic flashback to a HITS visit about 18 years ago (l-r): Jeff Timmons of 98°, UMe President & CEO Bruce Resnikoff, UMe EVP Marketing & Product Development Jane Ventom, Nick Lachey of 98°, Justin Jeffre of 98°, Manager David Britz of WORKS, Manager Steve Bilchik of fac-ul-ty, Drew Lachey of 98°Gearing up for their Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performance, 98° took a break from their Holiday concert tour to spread some cheer with the good people at Universal Music Group. The Pop icons performed some of their classic standards in addition to tunes from their latest offering, Let It Snow, with UMe for an intimate crowd of 200 staffers. Single "Season of Love," has already worked its way to #3 on the charts. Meanwhile, in addition to performing the parade, the boys are set to appear on GMA, Kelly & Ryan, Home and Family, The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration and Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration—both of which will air on ABC. You'll find all the details on 98°'s holiday goings-on right here.
FLEETWOOD MAC EXPANDED
11/16/17
A week before Fleetwood Mac is honored as the MusiCares People of the Year in New York, Rhino will release a deluxe edition of the first album to feature the lineup with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Fleetwood Mac, the 1975 album that we fans of the band called Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac back in the day, gets the expanded treatment on 1/19. The set that gave us "Landslide," "Say You Love Me," and "Rhiannon" has been expanded to include early versions of the tracks, live recordings and a DVD with a 5.1 surround mix and a 24/96 stereo version. The Deluxe version is a 3CD/DVD/LP 12” x 12” package with rare photos plus in-depth liner notes written by David Wild. Both the deluxe and expanded editions feature a newly remastered version of the original album along with single mixes for "Over My Head," "Rhiannon" and "Say You Love Me." The live performances come from 1976 shows and include songs recorded by previous incarnations of the band, "Oh Well," "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)" and "Hypnotized" among them.
Q&A: ROD ARGENT REFLECTS
ON THE ZOMBIES' ODESSEY
11/15/17
By Phil Gallo Right thinking Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters have already checked the box next to The Zombies, nominated alongside The Cars, Eurythmics, Radiohead, Moody Blues, The Meters and 13 others. It’s their second consecutive year on a ballot, their third overall. The Zombies, formed in 1958 and led by keyboardist Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone, are among the very few acts with an influential landmark album from the 1960s who have not had their name called come induction day. Among their testifying fans are Tom Petty, R.E.M., Beck, Pavement, Spoon, Belle & Sebastian … the list is endless. Unlike most bands in the hall, not to mention rock history, The Zombies had one their biggest hits after they broke up and moved onto other ventures, some musical, some not. Only in the last dozen years, have the principals been active in laying claim to their legacy. Much of that legacy is wrapped in that landmark album, Odessey and Oracle. The four living original members of the quintet that signed with Decca in 1964—Argent, Blunstone, bassist-songwriter Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy—celebrated the chamber-psychedelic classic’s 50th anniversary by playing it in full across the U.S. in more than two dozen cities earlier this year. The current edition of the band continues into next year with more touring. . Argent, the Zombies keyboardist who wrote their hits “Time of the Season,” “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” willingly and graciously answered our questions that ping-ponged around six decades of Zombies history. HITS: When you went in to record Odessey and Oracle, what did you do differently from the previous dozens of singles you had recorded? ROD ARGENT: It was in the air that we were going to split up, a purely commercial decision. We got on well with each other, but the guys who weren’t writing weren’t making any money. Chris and I were earning a decent amount of money because we had hits around the world—and honest publishers, which we’re thankful for. We were every frustrated with the production of our previous singles; we weren’t getting out of the songs what we heard in our heads. We said we have to produce it ourselves so we can get our own ideas onto tape. CBS gave us a small amount of money to record at Abbey Road and we walked in as The Beatles were walking out, having just produced Sgt. Pepper’s. For the first time in a long time, Chris and I each played our songs the way we wanted to hear them—it was a very personal document. Our approach was honest; we weren’t copying anything else that was around. HITS: How and when did you and Chris decide which songs would make the final cut? RA: We had to record quite quickly so we prepared everything assiduously beforehand. We would put down a song in three hours and there would be an hour left in the session and if anybody had an idea on something to try on a song, we’d do it. Like on “Changes.” I told Chris “I can hear a counter melody there” and he’d say, “I like it. Put it on.” We felt like kids in a sweet shop. It was a mix of being totally prepared and having some space for spontaneous ideas we could put down quickly. HITS: At the point at which you decided to perform Odessey and Oracle live, you and Colin had been working together for about 15 years. What made you want to do the album in full in England in 2007 and then what drove the decision to take it to the U.S. for a 50th anni tour? RA: Chris came along and, even though he hadn’t played for years, said, “Why don’t we do it?” He said let me practice up and we’ll give it a go. Colin and I weren’t sure it was going to work. We had to have a piano run-through to see if it would work and the extraordinary thing was Chris was note perfect. Colin and I weren’t properly prepared and struggling to keep up. It was supposed to be one night at Shepherd’s Bush Empire then turned into three nights. HITS: Musically what was the challenge? RA: The challenges were knowing that we had to do all the supplemental parts, the harmonies, the overdubs. We had to rely on Darian Sahanaja from Brian Wilson’s band to know the mellotron parts that I originally played because I was playing piano. We had to makes sure that we had everything working. It worked like a dream. HITS: When you and Colin started working together in 2000, you were careful to not say “we’re the Zombies.” That seemed to evolve pretty quickly. What changed? RA: Absolutely. When we started out [in 2000], I said to Colin, “if we’re going to do anything live I really don’t want to be a nostalgia band.” I didn’t think we should do more than two or three Zombies songs. We came to realize that there were many old, early Zombies songs that we had never played on stage. Certainly, we had never done anything from Odessey and Oracle. We started to get excited about rediscovering some of those things. Because we weren’t doing it to make a buck—we did it because it felt like a blast to play together again—we became more comfortable taking on The Zombies mantra. Then we felt like we were flying The Zombies flag for the other guys, too. When we started to release albums [As Far as I Can See in 2004; Breathe Out, Breathe In in 2011; Still Got That Hunger in 2015], we were knocked out by how these quite young audiences would accept our new material. It was very important to us to retain that creative energy and write and record and get the buzz of playing new things for the first time. We came to accept the name more because we were getting closer to what The Zombies originally were. HITS: Considering that you’ve been adding to your discography regularly over the last 13 years, I think casual fans would be shocked when they realize you only made two proper albums in the U.K. in the ‘60s and, secondly, that you were much more popular outside England than at home. RA: We were only professionally together for three years and we only had one major hit in the U.K., “She’s Not There.” Instead of putting out a follow-up that was something we all loved, the record company put out “Leave Me Be.” We hated the way that record turned out—it’s never been a hit anywhere. So it dies and it meant it started to kill our career. They released “Tell Her No” in America, it was Top 10, but in the U.K. we had a dismal flop. Another reason was our manager—he didn’t particularly like rock & roll. He was an old star manager and he didn’t manage anything about image for a start. We had one photo session right at the beginning of our career. We had only just left school and the interviewer writing the press release asked us “what have you been doing?” and we said, “we haven’t done anything—we just left school.” So he asks “OK, how many O levels and A levels?” We listed a few, nothing special. They wanted to hang things on that; I can’t imagine a less hip thing to hang your career on. They took the photos and they were awful, image wise. Compared to someone like [Brian] Epstein, Andrew Loog Oldham The Who had great management, people who understood rock & roll. I feel that was a big reason why, in the U.K., our career was spiked. HITS: And now they line up for your shows. RA: When we did the Shepherd’s Bush show, our manager at the time kept coming up to us saying, “you know who’s in the queue? Paul Weller’s waiting in the rain. There are members of Snow Patrol. Robert Plant’s here. We had to tell him to stop. And there are a lot of young indie bands that come to see us. One of my favorite new bands that Darian introduced me to it The Lemon Twigs, which I absolutely love. To my amazement, I heard that recently they said onstage “the rock gods, The Zombies” and I thought “that’s unbelievable.” It’s so nice to hear all of that. Balloting for the Rock Hall class of 2018 continues through 12/5. Fans can vote here.
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