Album Review

Amanaz – “Africa” – [Normal Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/18/2010   CD, International

Just the fact that a record from Zambia circa 1975 survived is pretty cool (sadly three of the original members did not). I’m curious about the band members, it seems they had pretty significant exposure to Western rock (and one tasty fuzzbox). I’m curious if the decree that music on the state radio station be homegrown came with any kind of funding for artists? This album almost seems like some early rough tapes (so that will add to the appeal for some) as the band was hashing out numbers? Did they tour much? There are two instros, the unassuming opener and “Green Apple.” These could have been from anywhere, their rock approach is solid and studied. On many other numbers, the band sings in English, and it seems they are even thinking in English. The title track marries a nice call and response in Bemba (I’m guessing) and proud surging choruses, then it bottoms out for a nervous woodpecker and wah minute (way down in the mix, but beautiful). “Nsunka Lwendo” (another Bemba? bomber!) blends light High Life and Heavy Metal then ultimately goes for the Michael Schenker. “Making the Scene” has that disjointed swagger that rules wherever it comes from. They close the album with the du rigeur, albeit pretty, slow-dance make-out ballad of the
era; cool swaying falsetto back-ups. Then one of those cool voice-overs, back in Bemba(?). At times such great students of “rock” their more fervent independent sound is sadly downplayed. No silimba, no thumb piano (a la Konono), no kalimbu. Very nice liner notes…

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