An early/mid-1970s group that sound like a hybrid between T-Rex and Big Star, might sound like a band that should be universally adored but Memphis’ Zuider Zee have remained something of an untapped curiosity. Until now. With this first time release of the album Zeenith, recorded between 1972 and ’74 and featuring all previously unheard tracks, the band should no longer be a boxed-up mystery.
Prior to Zeenith, Zuider Zee’s 1975 self-titled LP was the only record out there that existed. Released on Columbia, it was hailed as a true great power pop record of the time by groups such as Cheap Trick. “Rick Nielsen called me one night,” Zuider Zee’s Richard Orange recalls. “He was asking about why weren’t we bigger and doing as well as they were. He said: “Man, you’re so damn good, do you know where I have your phone number? I have your number right beneath John Lennon’s number. Fuggin’ John Lennon, Richard!’
A group led by such a hard-working and determined individual is glisteningly apparent on this release. Zeenith feels like a band at that magical juncture between a group perfecting their craft whilst still driven by wide-eyed optimism, youthful energy and a sense of fun that radiates throughout every note played. Ultimately, this was at the core of Zuider Zee’s aims. “Most important is to have fun whilst you’re up there doing it [on stage] because people will feel that joy – it’s electric and contagious and they will react to it.” Something that still feels pertinent over 40 years since it was created.