Considering the love, praise and status that The Zombies swan song LP Odessey And Oracle has (deservedly) received in the last 30 or so years, it's kinda difficult to fathom the fact that the album was a commercial failure upon its early 1968 release, and it wasn't until the spring of 1969 that the single drawn from it, 'Time Of The Season" became a massive hit.
In the interim, vocalist Colin Blunstone left the music business entirely and began working in the insurance industry. To think that this man, who was gifted with one of the greatest voices in the history of pop music, could have stopped singing at such a young age is an awful thought! However, right around the same time that "Time Of The Season" was released as a 45, producer Mike Hurst coaxed Colin into the studio to record again, a collaboration that yielded three singles released in 1969. For their first collaboration together, Hurst chose to re-record The Zombies first hit, 'She's Not There', in a radical new arrangement that matched fuzz guitar, heavy orchestration, moody stop-start sections and of course Colin's incredible vocals. The frantic string arrangement at the coda is especially surprising, and this excellent record became a minor British hit single. The orchestrated, folky flip side, "World Of Glass" (an excellent compositon by producer Mike Hurst) is practically a dry run for Colin's first three brilliant solo albums, which he (wisely) decided to return to using his real name for.
It's unclear why the name Neil MacArthur was chosen, but anyone who heard "Neil's" distinctive vocals here could deny that it was in fact Colin Blunstone, a point driven home by the fact that his photo was used in promotional ads for the records.
The songs of Harry Nilsson became favorites of those in the know during the late '60's, and the gorgeous ballad "Without Her" was a perfect choice for Neil/ Colin's vocal styling, and Hurst once again provided a dense, complex orchestration for the backing track. Sadly, this record did not repeat the modest success of the Neil macArthur "debut". I apologize about the groove damage on my copy (I need to upgrade); however, all of the Neil MacArthur singles are collected on a CD from Big Beat called Into The Afterlife.
The final Neil MacArthur single is the lovely 'Twelve Twenty Nine"; while it may cross over into schmaltzy pop to some ears, the heartfelt vocals from Mr MacArthur are mighty fine to my ears. MOR or not, if the chord change at the climax of the chorus (first heard at :42) doesn't melt your heart, I feel bad for you!
By 1970, Colin reunited with Zombies bassist Chris White (now acting as producer), and in 1971 his solo LP debut One Year was released. Back to being Colin Blunstone forever more, Neil MacArthur was now a faded memory.
Bonus: the Italian language version of "She's Not There":