Zombies: Breathe Out, Breathe In (2012)
Reviewed by Anthony Servante
Music from the Darkness
Since the success of the Rock Royalty Tour, where The Zombies headlined concerts with The Yardbirds and The Spencer Davis Group, Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and Tom Toomey* have put together a batch of new songs and hit the road again with The Strawbs** opening up for the legendary Rod Argent led band. With Blunstone on vocals and Tom Toomey on guitar and backing vocals, the new album boasts ten new songs that echo Steely Dan, The Beatles and early Zombies. Play It For Real riffs on Hey, Bulldog, while Shine On Sunshine alludes to The Long and Winding Road. A Moment in Time, written by Rod Argent and Tom Toomey, has a strong tie to The Zombies sound of the Sixties with its guitar work and harmonies. Blunstone’s vocals are in fine form for this music mix, and his song, Any Other Way, is closest to the traditional Zombies sound, with Argent on keyboards. Catchy melodies that rely on harmonies and easy listening directions make Breathe Out, Breathe In a worthy CD for Zombie fans who can look forward to hearing these new rockers in concert alongside the classics like Hold Your Head Up, Time of the Season, and She’s Not There.
*Check out the Tom Toomey interview in this issue to learn more about the new guitarist for The Zombies.
** Check out the Dave Lambert interview also in this issue to learn more about The Strawbs and their guitarist since 1972.
Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick 2 (2012)
Reviewed by Anthony Servante
When Jethro Tull released Aqualung in 1971, critics called it the first “concept” album. Ian Anderson, leader and founder of the band, argued that it, in fact, was not such an LP and proceeded to write a true concept piece, and thus we have Thick as a Brick, which Anderson calls a parody of a concept album. In concert he took the whole theme thing to another level, staging what he called “Monty Python” moments, such as a phone ringing during the playing of TAAB, Anderson stopping the concert to answer it, and then announcing that the call was for a Mike Nelson (the main character from the popular fifties TV show SEA HUNT); then the band resumed the music. A few seconds later, a man dressed in wet suit and scuba gear walked on stage and took the call. I was lucky enough to see the concert live at the Inglewood Forum, former home of the LAKERS basketball team, venue for some of the late sixties and early seventies rock legends as Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, and Black Sabbath, to name a few.
TAAB concerns itself with the story of young genius, Gerald Bostock, who supposedly wrote the lyrics to the 44 minute song and impregnated the young tease on the LP cover who hikes up her skirt for the camera in the background as Gerald gets his picture taken for the fictional newspaper, The St Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser. But Bostock was a ruse; Anderson did not use the epic poem by the youngster because he himself wrote the song and lyrics. It was all part of the parody.
In Thick as a Brick 2, Anderson continues the parody and does so by recapturing the textures and musical style of the original. In other words: It picks up right where we left off. We have the story of Gerald, now fifty years of age, told from various possible futures for the lad via songs unifying the storyline. He is a homeless man, a banker, a soldier, a preacher, and an “ordinary” man who works a mom and pop shop. The limitations Ian Anderson suffers in concert, such as not being able to reach the higher range of his vocals anymore, due to age, work in his favor in the studio as TAAB2 relies on a simple ballad/narrative approach to the music and with the instrumentals carrying the weight of the new concept piece. No one can criticize the range of Anderson’s flute play. The back-up band consists of John O’Hara on Hammond Organ and piano, David Goodbar on Bass, Florian Opahle on guitar, and Scott Hammond on drums, with original TAAB producer Derek Shulman, who has worked with Gentle Giant, taking the reins again for TAAB2. It is a pleasure to catch up with Mr. Bostock as Anderson recaptures the spirit of the original parody piece while updating the story to the new millennium with modern references and allusions. Jethro Tull is back with a vengeance, and the concept album is alive and well.