Africa: Vinyl LP

Africa: Vinyl LP

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Label: Now-Again Records
Release Date: 18th February

An essential Zam-Rock record reissued with it's non-reverb mix, making it the purest sounding version of this album. Released in 1975 and as good as any rock album from that period, hitting heavy with hard rock blues, fuzzy psychedelic, funk rock fusion and on 'Khala My Friend' a kind of proto-indie folk soul sound that oddly reminds this shopkeeper of Whitney. Cannot recommend this enough.

For those who dig: Afro-Rock, Zamrock, Sixto Rodriguez, The Velvet Underground, WITCH, Ngozi Family, The Psychedelic Aliens...

Now-Again’s Amanaz release presented here differs from the label’s previous reissue in that it’s a single LP of just the dry mix – omitting the reverb mix of the album. Issued in 1975, this is the articulation of Zambia’s Zamrock ethos. Its' musicians were anti-colonial freedom fighters, it envelops Zambian folk music traditions, and it rocks - hard. Amanaz were serious, and they made a serious stab at an album. They titled their album Africa, according to original band member Keith Kabwe, “because of how it was shared and how its inhabitants were butchered and enslaved, its resources stolen... all the atrocities slave drivers committed. “ Thus, their “Kale,” a blues sung in Nyanja, that traced the continent’s arc from slavery to Zambia’s independence closes the album. Kabwe and rhythm guitarist John Kanyepa have a winsome softness to their vocals, which sit politely aside the feral growl of drummer Watson Baldwin Lungu, bassist Jerry Mausala and bandleader/lead guitarist Isaac Mpofu. Africa’s vibe ranges from anxious (“Amanaz”) to escapist (“Easy Street”) to straight-up pissed-off. On the “History of Man,” his voice whiskey-burned, his distorted guitar buzzing like swarming hornets, Mpofu indicts his species. There’s a darkness to Africa not found on any other Zamrock records, and a melancholy drifts throughout, specifically on Mpofu’s more restrained “Khala My Friend,” which stands as an effective, bleak situation for the Zambian everyman, the average citizen of a struggling, new nation, who might have had relatives in conflict-torn countries on the horizon, who might have been struggling to find his next meal, who might have seen a bleaker future than his president promised. Then there’s the clear Velvet Underground-influence on the nostalgic “Sunday Morning,” which, as Kabwe recalls, was the first song written for the album, back in 1968, when Velvet Undergound and Nico was a new release - and the underground funk of “Making The Scene.” The album also tackles traditional Zambian music and early-‘60s rock – punctuated, of course by Kanyepa’s wah-wah and Mpofu’s fuzz guitars. But every time Amanaz get too deep, too violent, they come back with an accessible song and woo their listener back to the groove. “Green Apple” is a civil song, featuring Kanyepa’s sighing guitar.

A1. Amanaz
A2. I Am Very Far
A3. Sunday Morning
A4. Khala My Friend
A5. History Of Man
A6. Nsunka Lwendo
B1. Africa
B2. Green Apple
B3. Making The Scene
B4. Easy Street
B5. Big Enough
B6. Kale

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