While their time in the spotlight was short lived, The Zombies left behind an impressive legacy of music, from oldies radio staples like “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No” to shoulda been hits like “Whenever You’re Ready” and “I Love You” to the psych-pop masterpiece Odeyssey and Oracle. A key component to their sound was their super talented lead vocalist, Colin Blunstone. Colin had the pipes to pull off R & B and garage rock songs, but he could smooth things out to sing the poppiest of melodies. Just listen to how he handles the breathy verses of “Time of the Season” and comfortably ups the intensity where needed. Blunstone, after a brief foray into selling insurance, had a very nice solo career, and for the past decade or so, he and Rod Argent have been touring in a new lineup of The Zombies. He is truly one of the underrated figures of the British Invasion. Let’s celebrate his birthday by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up.
Lewis Taylor — Let’s Hope Nobody Finds Us (The Lost Album): This album was recorded in the late ’90s, but not released until 2005. It is a wonderful Beach Boys inspired soft-pop cult classic (with other influences, such as Fleetwood Mac). This song sounds somewhat akin to Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, but with more of a Brian Wilson smoothness. Taylor’s voice is perfectly suited for this material.
Radiohead — My Iron Lung (The Bends): While many dismissed Radiohead as another one shot alt-rock band after “Creep” and Pablo Honey hit, The Bends showed they were in for the long haul. While the album does not foreshadow how experimental the band would become, the songs were stronger, Thom Yorke’s vocals had more dimensions and the band showed an increasing ability to use texture to establish mood. This was a very influential album, full of strong songs like this one, with a characteristic melody and a great guitar break in the middle.
Adam Marsland — The Worst Thing (That I Ever Did) (Hello Cleveland): For his third studio album, Marsland, the former leader of Cockeyed Ghost, went back to a basic approach, taking songs he wrote while on tour and getting his band into a Cleveland studio to bang them out in a night. The result is an energetic album that has the crackle of early new wave rock. The songs are very aggressive and in your face. Some are a bit light on the melodies, but the best, like this one, have a feel of Elvis Costello & The Attractions with a stronger garage rock vibe.
LMNOP — Graphic Sex in a Disney Movie (Camera-Sized Life): Stephen Fievet is the man behind LMNOP and the Baby Sue fanzine. His music is a skewed take on power pop, with punchy rhythms, drawling vocals, odd and clever lyrics and hooks that conjure up everyone from Buzzcocks to Shoes. This is a weird instrumental with some spoken words well off in the background. Not the best of LMNOP’s catalog, for sure, but quirky as always.
Jason Falkner — Pretty Ballerina (Everyone Says It’s On): On this Japanese two CD set, one CD is Falkner doing an ecletic array of covers. The former Jellyfish-man, who has played with everyone from Air to Paul McCartney, finds a way to keep some of the baroque pop grandeur of this Left Banke classic, while finding a way to make it consistent with his raspy voiced modern pop.
David Garza — I Know (This Euphoria): This Texas guitarist had a lot of success in his native state, but neither of his two major label releases set the world on fire. This is a shame, as he is quite the talent, with an ability to meld ’60, ’70s and ’80s influences into accessible modern pop music. What separates him from the Fountains of Wayne and Weezers of the world is that he is a very soulful singer, which is on full display on this quiet acoustic number.
The Beatles — Come Together (Abbey Road): A classic John Lennon tune from the last Beatles masterpiece. Lennon’s blues reinventions on this album are fantastic, and this mix of Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry and rock ‘n’ roll tropes will always sound fresh to me.
Kelley Stoltz — I Like, I Like (To Dreamers): With each album, Stoltz comes closer and closer to perfecting his blend of ’60s and ’70s pop, which encompasses everyone from The Kinks and Emmitt Rhodes to T. Rex and Roxy Music. This song is more in the latter vein, with a stomping glam rock beat and handclaps for good measure.
Grandaddy — Jed The Humanoid (The Sophtware Slump): This was Grandaddy’s peak, mixing some organic Neil Young-ish songwriting (Neil in After The Gold Rush mode) with the swirly production of contemporaries such as Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips. This was a nice mix of classic tunesmithing in a more modern setting.
John Cale — Macbeth (Paris 1919): While this album’s reputation rests on the wonderful orch-pop compositions and arrangements on most songs, Cale rocks out on this song. And this is in the vein of the Kelley Stoltz song — a bit of a stomper in the vein of The Move, and not quite as arty as what Cale would be doing on his subsequent releases on Island.