Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Second Time Around

Even though I have been a Zombies fan since the 60s, I never really investigated the recorded legacy of their sequel, "Argent".   Sure, I heard their hit single "Hold Your Head Up", and I even bought one of their later LPs, but was put off by their prog-ishness as well as the operatic warbling of singer Russ Ballard.  Over the years several Zombies CD compilations have included songs that were written by the Rod Argent/Chris White team and recorded by a rag tag group including some of the ex-Zombies just after the breakup, about the time that "Time Of The Season" nearly topped the charts in the USA.  The quality of those songs - "Imagine The Swan", "Smokey Day" - along with the body of work left behind from the Zombies should have been a hint that there was still some good music lurking from Mr. Argent.

Well ladies and gentlemen, I missed the boat.  Recent posts by George Starostin on his wonderful Only Solitaire blog  indicate that the early Argent records are not so far removed from the Zombies brand of keyboard-driven pop. So I went to my local record store (I want to help keep them in business) and ordered a recently out-of-print CD containing their first two albums, "Argent" and "Ring of Hands".  The first is somewhat of a natural musical progression from "Time Of the Season", with more instrumental bite.  Keep in mind there is no vocalist who could replace Colin Blunstone, but I actually think the Rod Argent has a little bit of Colin's angel in his voice at times.   Rod, Russ, and bassist Jim Rodford were all able to carry a tune, and their combined harmonies are somewhat of a trademark of the Argent sound.  The second album begins to stray a bit further from familiar territory but still has a half dozen Argent/White tunes that contain breathtaking harmonies and melodies.

Here is a great example in "Like Honey", the opening track from the first Argent LP.  I love the way the chorus is just Rod's voice the first time through, then each succeeding iteration piles on more voices, and the harmonies get crunchier.  And in the lovely bridge section, Rod does his best Colin imitation, and it is quite good.


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

thanks for this, which i liked quite a lot, & also for the heads up re Only Solitaire -- which i look forward to exploring (what a deep site).

I was a major zombies fan but lost track with Argent, which i mainly associated with The Midnight Special or one of those goofy Helen Reddy type shows, singing Hold Your Head Up. Did Weird Al Yankovich ever sing a parody version called Pull Your Pants Up? If not, I think that concept is mine, thank you, thank you very much. :-)

Mister Pleasant said...

Mr. Anyway, your comment gave me a good gut laugh. Yeah I remember those Helen Reddy-hosted Midnight Special episodes. As dreadful as the guests often were, I also saw a lot of great 70s acts on their, as well as on ABC's In Concert and Don Kirchner's Rock Concert. One had to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it was great to see such a variety of bands in a live (or at least lip sync) environment.

As for "Hold Your Head Up" - I guess I am ok with the fact that it gave Rod Argent a big financial boost. But it is so far away from the Zombies beautiful pop/baroque sound that it took me a long time to forgive him for inflicting it on us.