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The Zombies | The Decca Stereo Anthology (Big Beat)
The cult of the Zombies is approaching Catholic Church proportions.  Hence a note of cynicism was sounded when I first heard about yet another Zombies collection, albeit a stereo one.  Big Beat had already released a complete singles collection just a few years back (and still on catalogue) which also included the wonderful late CBS singles.  However whether you own that collection or any other the sound of this double album is so bright, so broad spectrum and detailed that I cannot possibly think in terms of exploiting the fans. Earlier attempts during the 1960s to release Zombies material in stereo form had only led to results akin to, say, early Beatles stereo. Sparse, thin and strange in its separation while mono releases were sometimes like black holes, so dense that sound was seemingly swallowed and lost.  With this new remastering many of the vocal parts felt like they were being performed live in the living room and that's just listening to them on a crummy bookshelf mini hi-fi.  The chunky booklet explains in a million words what and how it was all done.  Basically what was previously compressed down on to one or two tracks is now divided rather more evenly over several tracks.  Many instrumental parts become delightfully obvious, especially Hugh Grundy's fine drumming but some vocal harmonies had me playing some tracks repeatedly like an excited, obsessive teenager.  The tender song Leave Me Be was always akin to a precious moment of Mozart or maybe something from 'With The Beatles' but it's so great to hear the exact vocal arrangement.  I have hit on this track because it is presented again on CD2 in instrumental backing form and we had all learnt our parts ready to emulate Rod and young Colin's harmonies.  Which was nice. Actually if there's one small complaint it is that we get just four of these instrumental versions and no She's Not There or She Does Everything For Me among them.  A karaoke Zombies album next with a fair splash of 'Oddysey and Oracle' perhaps?  Stranger things happen.

Stephen Ridley
January-February 2003

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