It’s a double bill that brings together a seminal British band that experienced its greatest success after breaking up, and a late-60’s hitmaker whose group has been branded by no less an authority than Steven Van Zandt as “the first rock band in the world.”
While you ponder that, make a pilgrimage to the Count Basie Theatre Tuesday night, when the venerable Red Bank venue hosts a pair of acts who regularly scaled the pop-chart heights in that music-mad decade of the 1960’s and have returned to the touring circuit with an inspired vengeance: the moody British Invasion quintet the Zombies, and the Young Rascals ringmaster Felix Cavaliere.
Graced with a more keyboard-enhanced sound (courtesy of founding member Rod Argent) than many of their contemporaries who hit these shores in the wake of the Beatles, the Zombies scored a couple of Billboard-topping bookends with “Tell her No” and “She’s Not There” before calling it splits just prior to the release of what turned out to be their defining vinyl moment: the 1968 album Odyssey and Oracle, a “decades ahead of its time” work capped by one of the greatest singles of its era; the chillingly cool and jazzy anthem “Time of the Season.”
After a long layoff that saw Argent score some big hits with the band that bore his name (“Hold Your Head Up”), the keyboard wiz reteamed with Zombie vocalist Colin Blunstone in 2001 for an ongoing reunion that’s produced four full-length albums to date, including the new Still Got That Hunger. When the band takes the Basie stage Tuesday night, they’ll be offering up a special treat that they never managed to pull off back in the day: a performance of Odyssey and Oracle in its entirety, augmented by the addition of original rhythm section Chris White and Hugh Grundy (the fifth member of the old quintet, guitarist Paul Atkinson, died in 2004).
Although he makes his base of operations in Nashville these days, Felix Cavaliere has always staked a cherished place in the hearts of New York/ New Jersey area fans, ever since he and fellow Young Rascals Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish went straight to Number One with their “blue-eyed soul” perennial, “Good Lovin.”
The band that would rebrand as the Rascals would hit the top of the pops twice more (with “Groovin” and “People Got to Be Free”) and produce a slew of equally treasured transistor-radio gems (“I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Girl Like You,” “A Beautiful Morning”) that stand among the most consistent pop-music manifestos of peace, love and understanding.
Still navigating a career that’s seen him admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame) — and even briefly conquering Broadway (with a big assist from Van Zandt) via the Rascals “bio-concert” Once Upon a Dream — Cavaliere is back on the road with a new touring lineup of first-call cats, poised to deliver a decades-spanning retrospective on his Red bank area return.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert ($25 – $79.50) are available here.