The Zombies: Not washed-up sellouts

Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone
Aladdin Theatre
3017 S.E. Milwaukie
Aug. 14, 7 p.m.
$20 advance
All ages

The two names listed above may or may not be familiar, depending on one’s level of attention to or obsession with details, but the music will be. Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone were two members of the long-underrated ’60s pop group The Zombies, known principally for the top-10 hits “Time of the Season” and “She’s Not There.” In recent years, with the release of the Zombie Heaven box set and the late-’90s pop resurgence (spearheaded by known Zombie fans Elliott Smith and Badly Drawn Boy), the group has finally been awarded some of the recognition it is due. It is testament to their character that Argent and Blunstone are not touring under the Zombies moniker, cashing in on the name’s weight like many others have done and would do in their position.

Yes, Fleetwood Mac, I’m talking to you.

Just as the group refused to reform after the posthumous success of “Time of the Season” made it financially advisable, a respect for the legacy of The Zombies and the interests of the various members has kept any ex-members from selling the name for casino dates.

For the record, Blunstone was the singer of the group and Argent the keyboard player. Along with bassist Chris White, one of the principal songwriters, they penned the two songs already mentioned along with many of the best-loved gems from the Zombies’ sole studio recording, Odyssey and Oracle.

While many have written the Zombies off as mere Beatle-imitators, the reissue of Odyssey in 1998 showed that, while comparable Beatles albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are showing their wrinkles, even obviously mop-topped Zombies tracks like “Hung Up On A Dream” manage to sparkle with life some 30 years after their initial release.

Alongside the other two great albums of the ’60s – The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (assuming that the “’60s” as a cultural era ended with Nixon’s presidency) – Odyssey stands as a different kind of classic: a free-spirited romp through the prevalent styles and recent innovations of its time. By the time the Beatles had become musically mature enough to record an album as consistent as Odyssey, they had lost the timeless charm of the appropriator and attempted to become innovators – a necessary role that, unfortunately, stamps an early expiration date on all who flirt with its power.

While reunion tours are generally not recommended by this critic – as the feeling that something is “happening” accounts for the pleasure of live performance – one of pop’s greatest singer-songwriter teams will be playing this Thursday evening at a small venue for the price of, like, two trips to the movies. When washed-up sell-outs like Paul McCartney are charging over $100 per ticket to be seen flubbing their hits in venues that have no place hosting music events, such an opportunity as Argent and Blunstone’s modest appearance in Portland cannot be missed.