Perhaps the most interesting fact about the Zombies’ debut single is that the session that birthed it was won as a prize. The band came first place in a talent contest in 1963 and by the end of the next year, their Decca-released hit was making waves in both the UK (#12) and the US (#2) charts. Despite no actual studio experience, main song-writer Rod Argent proved himself to be a master pop craftsman right from the start – She’s Not There’s piano melody builds up wonderfully to an explosive chorus, showcasing Blunstone’s sensible lead vocals and the group harmonies along the way. It is the type of form-and-substance balance in song that only few others at the time could master (think Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, Lennon-McCartney).
In 1965 She’s Not There would be included on both the UK Begin Here album and US self-titled one. And while the hit was no doubt a blessing for the group, propelling them directly in the middle of the whole British Invasion phenomenon, it was also kind of a curse. The Zombies struggled to re-capture its commercial success with many singles throughout the next years, of which only Tell Her No really came close (#6 on Billboard). This lack of success combined with internal disagreements caused the band to split up before the release of their follow-up album in 1968, the masterpiece that is Odessey and Oracle. Before that album and its lead single, Time of the Season, took off and gained the classic status, The Zombies were most likely viewed as a one-hit wonder. But even if that had remained the case to this day, I see no shame when the hit in question is She’s Not There – a song that sent girls into hysterical levels of screaming upon release, and that still holds up more than 50 years later.
Categories: Song Reviews