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The Zombies at NYCB Theatre at Westbury

The Zombies at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
Mike Perciaccante By

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The Zombies with special guests Felix Cavaliere's Rascals
NYCB Theatre at Westbury
Westbury, NY
May 22, 2016

The Zombies are revered for their 1968 album Odessey and Oracle (Date Records/CBS Records). The platter has been hailed as one of the greatest pop and psychedelic albums of all time. The album has made Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Superstar musicians Robert Plant, Dave Grohl and Paul Weller, among others, have stated that they love and/or have been influenced by the record. Interestingly, the two singles released in 1967—"Care of Cell 44" and "Friends of Mine"—both failed to chart. The band broke-up in December 1967. The album, which was released in the spring of 1968, was received with indifference by the label and didn't fare well on the charts. The silver lining was the success of the single "Time of the Season" which became a huge hit in 1969.

On a beautiful Sunday evening in late May, the children of the '60s came out in masse to see the (just shy of) 50th Anniversary performance of the now classic album as well as The King of Blue Eyed Soul—Felix Cavaliere. Cavaliere and his backing band, billed as Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, got the audience right into the mood by delivering not perfect renditions of "In The Midnight Hour" with a snippet of "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," "Love Is a Beautiful Thing," "It's A Beautiful Morning" and "You Better Run." Cavaliere, a member of both the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, waxed philosophic on more than one occasion. He announced that back in the day there was no Facebook, no cellphones or videogames. "We had music," he said.

The show also included "Lonely Too Long" with a snipped of "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," "Come On Up" mashed together with "Your Love is Lifting Me Higher" and "Groovin'" with a touch of "My Girl." "Mustang Sally" was introduced with a great story, which for some might also serve as a cautionary tale. Cavaliere said, "We were in it for the music—but it's the music business. You see, a record, a single, back in the day, had two sides. The B-side sold just as many copies as the A-side." He then told the story about how Mac Rice, the writer of "Mustang Sally," stopped him on the street after the Rascals scored a huge hit with "Good Lovin'" and thanked him for helping him buy his house. Cavaliere then mused about what would have happened to his band if they had put one of its own songs on the B-Side.

Cavailere's performance ended with tour de force version of "People Got To Be Free" with a snippet of Pharrell Williams "Happy" and a blistering version of "Good Lovin.'" After taking their bows, Cavaliere and his band (which included drummer Vinny Santoro, Mike Severs on guitar and vocals, John Howard on bass) made a quick retreat, the lights came up and the mostly middle-aged audience retreated to the lobby and concession stands singing Rascals' songs.

After a fifteen minute break, the Zombies, currently comprised of original members Colin Blunstone (vocals), Rod Argent (organ and keys) along with bassist Jim Rodford (who was formerly a member of Argent's self-named band and the Kinks as well as the first choice for the bass position in the Zombies which ultimately went to Chris White), Rodford's son, Steve, manning the drumkit and guitarist Tom Toomey delivered a performance that provided the capacity crowd with a fantastic show that they would have loved back in the day almost as much as they loved it on this night. The band made certain that all aspects of each player's career was covered—new songs (the bluesy "Edge of The Rainbow" and "Moving On") from the recently released Still Got That Hunger (The End Records, 2015); Zombies' classics such as "I Love You," "Time Of The Season," the blue-eyed soul of "Tell Her No," the baroque-tinged pop of "Care of Cell 44"); choice covers of "You Really Got A Hold On Me/Bring It On Home To Me" originally released by the Miracles and Sam Cooke (from the band's 1965 Parrot Records U.S. debut album The Zombies and Little Anthony and the Imperials' "Goin' Out of My Head;" an extended version of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" and Blunstone's solo '70s UK hit "I Don't Believe in Miracles."

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