Monday, January 11, 2010

The Zombies - Greatest Hits

Release Date: March 25, 2003 (CD only)

★★★★★ Tracks:

She's Not There

Tell Her No

I Love You

There are some old songs you will hear initially as you’re surfing the radio, stop the station, and listen through to entirety. With some of these songs you might never know who it is that you are listening to, but you know the melodies, and even some of the words; “She’s Not There,” track 1 on The Zombies’ Greatest Hits was, for me, one of those songs. I continued to hear that memorable track periodically while growing up. Taking many long car rides with my mother, she would most often turn on the oldies channel and on the occasion when “She’s Not There” came on, she would hum the melody and sing the few lyrics she knew, sometimes correctly or incorrectly, as she endearingly did. The song caught my ear as well, but I did not know who it was I was listening to until much later, when revisiting the group, and that great song, in college.

“She’s Not There” was a groundbreaking track for its time. While most of the top artists such as Roy Orbison and the Beatles we’re using the “major key / three chord” outline for writing the majority of their singles, the Zombies implemented a catchy, minor key, jazz-style composition, also adding an uncommon instrument for pop artists in 1964; an electric piano. This style of song and the use of an electric piano would catch on quickly with groups like the Box Tops and the Doors, and not only was “She’s Not There” a trend-setter, but it’s a timeless song and a reason in and of itself worth checking out The Zombies’ Greatest Hits.

There are of course other reasons to listen to Zombies' Greatest Hits, but none so compelling as the first track on the album. Other stand-out songs include “Tell Her No” and “I Love You,” both singles making the Billboard charts during their respective release dates; and while I enjoy most of the tracks here, the Zombies have so many compilation albums filled with nearly identical track listings that this album isn’t entirely essential. The most often heard/read criticism is that Greatest Hits doesn’t contain any tracks from Odyssey and Oracle other than “Time of the Season,” a rather glaring omission I would agree with, especially for those newcomers looking for a primer and never hearing O&O. However for those of us who already have a copy of O&O and need a somewhat extensive, but not complete, catalogue of pre-1968 Zombies material, Greatest Hits is a great album to own.

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