Rod Argent is a gifted keyboard player and musician of considerable skill that cut his teeth in one of the most underrated sixties bands, the Zombies. Although they had a couple of hits with “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and later “Time of the Season,” the Zombies never broke out of the British Invasion like some of their better known contemporaries, for instance, the Kinks or the Who.
Argent was a later incarnation of the Zombies with key personnel changes that coupled the stellar keyboard work of Rod Argent, with the creative, accomplished voice and guitar of Russ Ballard and showcase vocal ability the Zombies had hinted at but that Argent ramped up considerably.
Although I do see newer Argent clips on YouTube, this iteration o f the band had a relative short life, in which it wrote and released some great songs. “Liar” is one I remember from their 1st LP. Seeing them perform it live was a thrill. Argent live was one of the better early shows I saw. “Liar” was later successfully covered by Three Dog Night, who probably made more recording and performing it than did Argent.
Argent’s albums, however, could ne uneven. One of my favorites is “In Deep,” on which “Hold Your Head Up” seemed to get the most attention. “In Deep,” opened with the Rock anthem “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” which was an early favorite of mine. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” celebrates the very existence of rock music, it seems to stress that rock as an art form as s force larger than “rock and roll.” Reveling in the ability to incorporate other forms and musical elements, it features structured, “complete” songs, (some more akin to “compositions,” hinting they were more than mere “songs”. Labeled at the time by some to be “pumped-up” and perhaps overly ambitious, it features melodic solos, finely crafted vocals, thoughtful lyrics and variety of textures that to me, make the entire album seem joyful, as apparent in its opening number.
Later covered by Mott the Hoople and others, (including completely lame versions by Kiss and others) the song has shown up here and there for decades. Although familiar, every so often, I hear it anew. It transports me to a land of dreams when music and musicians seemed much different–when rock, at least on its surface, aspired to be more than just a commodity. And even though the aura the surrounded this music may well have been simply manufactured, I listen as an innocent and inwardly, I smile.