Mike Nyoni “SM” (1977) and Born Free “Mad Man” (1975) both appear on Welcome to Zamrock, Vol. 2 (Now-Again Records) now shipping from Rappcats
Born Free was founded in 1972 by bandleader, drummer and vocalist Nicky Mwanza, but the band never recorded until a complete personnel change. Star-in-the-making Mike Nyoni joined as vocalist and lead guitarist; Zimbabwean-born Peter Lungu replaced Mwanza on drums; Joseph Musonda alternated between rhythm and bass guitar. Mwanza went on to form Cross Town Traffic, and Nyoni’s Born Free signed to ZMPL, recording the album Mukaziwa Chingoi (Promotion) LP in 1975.
The album showcases Nyoni’s talents first and foremost, and betrays a study of funk: this is not a fuzz guitar showcase, but a wah-wah guitar dominated album – the instrumental “Mad Man” sounds like it could have been cut in Detroit, Michigan in the early ’70s.
After Born Free, Nyoni went solo, signing to Christopher Ndhlovu’s Chris Editions for two albums: Kawalala (c. 1977) and his most straight forward funk/soul release I Can’t Understand You (c. 1978). This last album was released in Kenya and France with different cover art as an AIT/Reprise album, and it set up Nyoni for a string of kalindula releases in the 1980s. He gigged on his own and with Sounds Unlimited and Broadway Quintet before his death in the ’90s.
Shipping now. This is the first official reissue of this essential Zamrock album.
Peace was one of of Zamrock’s best bands, kick-started by groups The Boyfriends and WITCH from Chamboli Mine Township, Kitwe, Zambia. Black Power was their sole release, recorded at Malachite Film Studio circa 1973-74 and issued circa 1975, sounds like nothing else in the Zamrock canon: a lost message drifting from the flower power era, imbued with a fiery Zambian voice.
Available Record Store at Rappcats Pop-Up Shop.
April 18-19, Saturday & Sunday, Noon-6PM
RAPPCATS. 5636 YORK BLVD, LOS ANGELES CA 90042
Essential 1970s African rock album, definitive reissue on Now-Again
Issued in 1975, this is the articulation of Zambia’s “Zamrock” ethos. While other albums – Rikki Ililonga’s Zambia, WITCH’s Lazy Bones!! – are competitors, it’s hard to best this album as it covers each major quadrant of the Zamrock whole: it came from the mines; its musicians were anti-colonial freedom fighters, it envelops Zambian folk music traditions. And it rocks.
The album was given two separate mixes and two separate presses: one version is dry, with the vocals and drums mixed loud, the other slathered in reverb, with the vocals and drums disappearing into the mix, and with the guitar solos mixed much louder. Now-Again has presented them both in this anthology. This is a highpoint of the Zamrock scene and this is its definitive reissue.
2/LP, 2/CD set contains both released versions of the album: a dry, drums-up mix and reverb-drenched fuzz-guitar dominated mix and an extensive booklet containing an essay on the album and detailing the history of the Zamrock scene and this album, with notes from Amanaz’s Isaac Mpofu and Keith Kabwe and rare photos. Download card included with LP version.
This is a Record Store Day release. It will be available Apr 18 2015 at Rappcats.com, at the Rappcats Pop-Up Record Shop – address TBA – and at participating record stores around the U.S.
Zambian guitarist Paul Ngozi’s essential debut album, featuring Chrissy Zebby Tembo. His debut album – issued under the name Ngozi Family – is his masterwork: an important release not just in the Zamrock genre, but in the global rock canon.
Day of Judgement is an introduction to the most intense, raw and inimitable golden era Zamrock recorded, as it paved the way for a dozen Paul Ngozi and Ngozi Family releases (the most famous being drummer Chrissy Zebby Tembo’s My Ancestors) that straddled the line between funk and punk, of driving hard rock and Zambian folk melodies and rhythms.
Day of Judgement was released in 1976, the same year as other, now famous, Zamrock albums, from WITCH’s Lazy Bones!! to Rikki Ililonga’s Zambia to Musi-O-Tunya’s Give Love To Your Children, all reissued on Now-Again. But Day of Judgement sounds like none of its counterparts. Part of that stems from its frenzied primitivism, the Ngozi Family’s attempt to overcome a lack of musical acumen with sheer force of will.
That will allowed Paul Ngozi to overcome a humble upbringing to become the most unlikely combination: Zamrock’s most beloved star in its brief but now-well chronicled arc; the only musician to maintain his fame and recording prowess in the dark ages of the ’80s; an inspiration to not only aging but young Zambians – and now others, beyond Zambia’s borders.
But one cannot imagine Paul Ngozi without this album, a full-on aural assault that sounds as wild nearly forty years after its release as it must have sounded in the developing Zamrock landscape from which it emerged. We listen to this anachronistic yet prescient album now as a wholly original, completely unpredictable album in line with those from mavericks from across the world – from the Ramones to the Sex Pistols to Death. And, though it’s been over two decades since Paul Ngozi’s passing, his voice and vision still seem exciting, powerful, unique, unvarnished, new.