Monday, February 14, 2011

Song of The Week: "Just Out of Reach", The Zombies

It's real hard to beat The Zombies. Song for song, they may have been the highest quality band to come out of The British Invasion. But sometimes quality isn't recognized. In a world where people gobble up Budweiser and McDonalds, the Zombies were too often selling fine wine and steaks.

In between their two excellent albums, Begin Here and Odyssey and Oracle, The five lads from St. Albans, England, ran off a streak of singles that are of the highest quality. Unfortunately, each one did as poorly as the next on the charts. Particularly in the UK where the band was, well, just ignored. Amazingly they only charted one song, their debut, She's Not There, in the UK Top 40. What the heck!? In the US they had a bit more success and influenced American acts like the Enfields, The Left Banke, and Phil and the Frantics. But in a world where Paul was the "cute one" and Mick was the "bad boy" and Eric was the "gutiar god", the nerdy looking, minor key loving Zombies, bespectacled and wearing suits, were quickly out of date and tagged as the kind of band only girls liked. But pick up any Zombies single -- any of them -- and you will pick a class-A gem. Organ and piano player, Rod Argent, gets most of the accolades for the songwriting. Well deserved too. Chris White, the bassist, was no slouch either and really grew quickly as a songwriter in their brief career. But today we look at a rare Colin Blunstone penned song.

Just Out of Reach was written by Colin for the Otto Preminger film, Bunny Lake Is Missing. It's one of three songs the Zombies contributed to the soundtrack. The song was then released in the UK as the Flip-Side to Chris White's excellent composition, Remember You. Months later, the US pressing (on Parrot Records) would promote Just Out of Reach to the A-side. In our opinion, it is the right decision.

Just Out of Reach is not only a rare Colin Blunstone composition, but it is a rare (albeit less rare) rocker. Blunstone's voice is as good as it has ever been. He has a nice rasp to it that sounds as if he was fighting a phlegmy cold. Then there is the great organ break with Rod at the fore. That last half of that lead is just magnificent. Chris White and Rod Argent lend their superlative harmonies as a call and response and as a nice ooh-ooh-ooh here and there.


1 comment:

  1. Great post Morgan. I never get tired of the Zombies- they remain fresh to my ears year after year. It is odd that they struggled so much for attention in England. The competition at the time was pretty fierce of course, but they deserved better.

    Just Out of Reach is a great song, especially considering it came from the third best writer in the group. I think the Remains could have done a good version- it reminds me of them somehow.