Film makers have long associated their imagery with music. At its best, this symbiotic relationship will forever link a song to a scene. Francis Ford Coppolla's "Apocalpyse Now" is a terrific example. His use of the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction" will forever conjure up images of waterskiing up a river of horror. Quentin Tarrantino's film "Reservoir Dogs" fused "Stuck in the Middle with You" with a mad scene of ear amputation. In 1990, Director Penny Marshall, gave us a scene which reawakened a somewhat successful UK band and forever linked the "Time of the Season" with the summer of love..
The film was "Awakenings". It told the story of a physician, played by Robin Williams, who temporarily awakens a ward of patients from their frozen inanimate state. One patient in particular, portrayed by Robert Deniro, reawakens after several years of catatonia. The scope of this awakening is fully realized when doctor and patient go for a car ride. It is the summer of 1967...the summer of love. From the passenger window, Deniro's Leonard gapes in wide eyed wonder as they pass hippies toking, biker's cruising and a universal sense of carefree abandon. All the while, The Zombies, "Time of the Season" blares from the AM radio.
Appropriately enough; my discovery of The Zombies came about after seeing "Awakenings" in the summer of my AM radio internship. After graduating from college, I was required to complete 120 hours of work experience in a radio station. I chose Oldies 1260AM...a long-time western Canadian staple of radio. As that summer progressed, I developed a keen awareness of the "the" bands. It all began with "The" Beatles and "The" Rolling Stones followed by "The" Animals, "The" Hollies, "The" Byrds and "The" Yardbirds. When I heard "The" Zombies however; I realized this was not just another "The" band... They found a way to blend elements of Jazz with flower-power pop and garage resulting in a somewhat sophisticated sound.
Their first single was 1964's "She's Not There". It was only 2'24" but its manic chorus, insistent bass line and minor-keyed hammond combined into an epic. Their next big single would come the following year with "Tell Her No"...infectious and brooding be-pop. Alas; their self-styled originality failed to catch on with the masses. The Zombies struggled on for several more years releasing albums and singles before deciding to call it quits in '68. Shortly thereafter, the final track from their final album was released as a postscript to their breakup. That song was "Time of the Season"...it went on to sell more than a million copies and became the #1 song of 1969.
Fast forward some 20 years and The Zombies are once again resurrected to awaken a dormant public. In 2002, Mobile Fidelity released "The Zombies - Greatest Hits" on SACD. This is the first audiophile compilation by this seminal UK band. This stereo only SACD is of the dual layered hybrid variety...meaning; it has both a high density layer for SACD fidelity and a cd layer for playback in your crappy bedside cd player. It has the 3 big hits....with 2 of them also being released in alternate versions. These songs were all originally recorded in mono. Master Producer Steve Hoffman not only remastered them for stereo, he managed to tweak 'em up to SACD fidelity. The highs are simply spectacular. The imaging is astounding. For sheer musicianship; Rod Argent's keyboard work rivals that of contemporaries Ray Manzarek of the Doors and The Animals' Alan Price. Paul Atkinson's original guitar riffs would later ring on through The Who's Pete Townshend and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. And then there's Colin Blunstone's whispered vocals which seem to shout out for attention. The other tracks all startle in musicianship, arrangement and soundsscape.
Despite the inevitable comparison with other contemporary "the" bands, The Zombies proved to be a different kind of monster. After listening to "The Zombies - Greatest Hits" I was quite simply awestruck. How could a song recorded in mono in 1964 transfer so incredibly to stereo in 2002? This morning I cranked up "Time of the Season" for the wife. The look on her face was that same look that Penny Marshall captured on film in "Awakenings"....