Featuring 2 Mixes of the 1975 Zamrock Classic!
Issued in 1975, Africa by Amanaz 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 – hard.
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 Underground 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.
It is a perfectly arranged album, from the dichotomy of Mpofu's and Kanyepa's lead and rhythm guitars, to the vocal harmonies, to the rhythm section's sense of space and time, which allows Africa's 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.
Now Again presents them both here as they each have their appeal: it’s up to the listener to pick they prefer. This 2LP-set contains both released versions: 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, with notes from Amanaz's Isaac Mpofu and Keith Kabwe and rare photos. This is a highpoint of the Zamrock scene and this is its definitive reissue!