Colin Blunstone’s first solo tour of the U.S. in 40 years commences tonight at Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, N.H., to be followed by six more shows through May 15 and including City Winery stops next week in New York (May 13) and Chicago (May 15).
The great Zombies lead singer, who just wrapped up a southern U.S. swing with the legendary British Invasion band and promotional activities with its co-founder/keyboardist Rod Argent in New York, then returns to England for more solo dates.
“I’m bringing over some guys from England whom I play with regularly—and we’re purposely not playing many Zombies tunes,” says Blunstone. “Well, two: [The band’s biggest hits ] ‘She’s Not There' and ‘Time of the Season.’ Otherwise, I’m doing songs that are better-known in the U.K. and Europe. Many of them were big hits over there, and I’m hoping that because they are beautiful, well-crafted songs, the fact that they weren’t hits here won’t spoil people’s enjoyment—because a beautiful song is a beautiful song!”
These songs will span Blunstone’s entire solo career dating back to 1970, The Zombies having originally disbanded in late 1967 (ironically, before its huge international 1969 hit “Time of the Season,” which they had recorded while still intact). They will include his 1972 hit “I Don't Believe in Miracles,” which was written by Russ Ballard, who sang lead and played guitar in Argent’s eponymous post- Zombies band (that’s him on Argent’s 1972 smash “Hold Your Head Up”).
“So there’s a family connection with my solo career, in that Rod produced some of my records, and [Zombies bassist/songwriter] Chris White [who co-wrote “Hold Your Head Up” with Argent] and Russ Ballard wrote songs for me,” says Blunstone. He'll also perform his 1972 hit “Say You Don’t Mind,” written by Denny Laine; Billy Bragg’s “Levi Stubbs’ Tears,” and Pete Bardens' “Turn Your Heart Around,” which Blunstone, who sang in the Alan Parsons Project, sang in that band’s offshoot Keats, of which the late Camel keyboardist Bardens was also a member.
“I knew all these writers personally—people I worked with and traveled with, who wrote wonderfully crafted songs with mature lyrics,” notes Blunstone. “As I enter the autumn of my career, I really appreciate singing mature lyrics.”
Now 68, Blunstone continues to dazzle vocally, as evidenced both by continued touring with The Zombies and his latest solo album On The Air Tonight, which was released in January. And for the New York show, his voice will be further ornamented on three tunes by a string quintet arranged by British composer Christopher Gunning, who arranged the strings on “Say You Don’t Mind.”
“He’s just one of the best arrangers in the world,” says Blunstone. “The strings add such a fullness to the band and me, and I’d love to do all the dates with them. But getting a string quintet to travel with a rock band gets a little bit crazy!”
Blunstone’s solo band, incidentally, includes current Zombies drummer Steve Rodford and guitarist Tom Toomey.
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