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The Zombies | New World (Big Beat)
This is a 2003 reissue of the 1991 Zombies reunion album, here replete with two unreleased demo bonus cuts of which one, When My Boat Comes In, is of some interest, if not quite as hot as the liner notes might suggest.
Reunion albums are frequently a problem or even a pain for fans and maybe for reviewers too. People change. The original chemistry was not so much about delicate compromises but rather about shared visions and can surely not be reassembled too easily fourteen or so years later. How much of the old magic, i.e. the songwriting craft and the band's special sound (surely a product of the time) could we hope to find intact? Two of the original Zombies are absent save for the occasional cameo. Paul Atkinson was always an interesting guitarist but the absence of Rod Argent is akin to the fabs without John which is pushing it a bit. Guitarist and keyboard player Sebastian Santa Maria takes the place of both these two stars. Compositional duties are shared between Colin Blunstone, Chris White and the new boy. His songwriting will lead few to that art but it is his overall sound, most irritating on Moonday Morning Dance that brought back memories, once buried, of the Alan Parsons Project and Yes.  His keyboard solo on the surely pointless retread of Time of the Season is pretty much Argent's with the fiery, inspirational edges all rounded off. The Blunstone numbers are better,  Knowing You and Love Conquers All eventually stir the spirit but sounding like cuts from, well, Colin Blunstone albums. It is the great Chris White's compositions that put us on some kind of vintage Zombies high, indeed to lead you to give a cautious, lukewarm recommendation (but recommendation all the same) to this Eighties sounding set. Track four, the lovely, lingering Lula Lula must rate amongst the group's most special moments and is also featured in demo form at the end of the collection. The Zombies always chose wisely in their choice of songs to cover and Prefab Sprout's When Love Breaks Down could have been written for Colin Blunstone who, it is fair to say, is on good vocal form throughout this outing.
To suggest this album is a collectors/completists-only release is hardly damnation being as there are about a million of us Zombie fanatics out here.

Stephen Ridley
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003