BEVERLY — When The Zombies released the album “Odessey and Oracle” in the spring of 1968 it was met with great indifference. Crestfallen, the band broke up.
Al Kooper, best known as the man who formed Blood, Sweat and Tears and played on classic Bob Dylan “electric” albums, was a CBS staff producer at the time. He convinced Clive Davis, who had refused to release the album in the U.S., to put out several singles from the LP, including “Time of the Season,” which raced to No. 3 on the Billboard charts in 1969, 18 months after the British band recorded it.
Today, “Odessey and Oracle” is considered a masterpiece. It ranked No. 100 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Jam’s Paul Weller and other rockers trumpeted its excellence.
And The Zombies are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
Friday night, The Zombies, led by founding members Rod Argent (keyboards) and Colin Blunstone (vocals), performed four songs from “Odessey” during a splendid show at The Cabot. All were terrific, especially the album opener “Care of Cell 44,” which Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has said changed his life. Equally fine was “This Will Be Our Year,” an oft-covered song (OK Go’s is particularly swell) that featured Blunstone’s most tender vocal of the night.
Ably backed by guitarist Tom Toomey, bassist Søren Koch, and drummer Steve Rodford (son of the late Zombies/Kinks bassist Jim Rodford) the band roared through its catalogue for nearly two hours. A wonderful surprise were two tunes (“Hold Your Head Up” and the set-closing “God Gave Rock and Roll to You”) from Argent, the band Rod Argent formed after The Zombies disbanded. The keyboardist went crazy on his Hammond organ, whipping up a lengthy psychedelic frenzy on both songs.
But it was Zombies classics “Tell Her No,” a British Invasion powerhouse from 1965, and “She’s Not There” that struck a nostalgic chord with the near-capacity crowd. Audience members loudly sang along to both.
Lesser-known Zombies tunes also hit the sweet spot. “I Love You,” a hit for the band People! In 1968, was a raver, with Toomey nailing the catchy guitar riff. The more recent “Movin’ On” also shined brightly.
The band opened with a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner,” featuring stellar vocals by Blunstone, who was in fine voice all night, and boogie-woogie piano by Argent. A mid-set run-through of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold On Me” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home to Me” and The Alan Parsons Project’s “Old and Wise,” which Blunstone sang on the record, wowed as well.
The Zombies were full of life Friday evening.