Issued in 1975, this is the articulation of Zambias Zamrock ethos. While other albums – Rikki Ililongas Zambia, WITCHs Lazy
Bones!! – are competitors, its 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 – 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 continents arc
from slavery to Zambias 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. Africas vibe ranges from anxious (Amanaz) to escapist (Easy Street) to straight-up pissed-off. On the History of Man, his voice whiskeyburned,
his distorted guitar buzzing like swarming hornets, Mpofu indicts his species.
Theres a darkness to Africa not found on any other Zamrock records, and a melancholy drifts throughout, specifically on Mpofus 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 theres 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 Kanyepas wah-wah and Mpofus 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 Kanyepas sighing guitar.
It is a perfectly arranged album, from the dichotomy of Mpofus and Kanyepas lead and rhythm guitars, to the
vocal harmonies, to the rhythm sections sense of space and time, which allows Africas funk to build.
Inexplicably, Africa 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. Weve presented them both here as they each have their
appeal: its up to the listener to pick the one he or she prefers. This is a highpoint of the Zamrock scene and
we hope that this can be seen as its definitive reissue.