ZAMROCK – ZAMBIA’S 70s MUSIC
Zamrock was a 70s fuzzed-out, psychedelic rock combined with local music that emerged in Zambia. Influenced by the music of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, many Zamrock bands, also drew inspiration from the heavy repetitive riffs of bands like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, the Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, and Cream.
With the end of WWII, the promise given to African colonies, by the allied powers, was greater international respect and self-determination in exchange for their participation in the war effort. As usual, these promises were empty, however, there was now a base of African intellectuals promoting African nationalism and demanding a change in the balance of power, self-government, and African national sovereignty restored.
Zambia was a British colony and saw a peaceful transition of power on October 24, 1964. Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda sought to create a Zambian identity that was free of any colonial contamination.
Regardless of the British pop Invasion and the global surge of American rock and roll, Kaunda ordered that no less than 90% of all music played on Zambian radio had to be of national origin.
Zamrock wasn’t just regurgitations of some of the world’s most imitated artists, but a whole genre on its own, taking influence from traditional Zambian instruments, occasionally using local languages (Nyanja, Bemba) and tackling social issues.
We´ll review some three of the main acts, the rest is a whole new world for you to explore.
‘We Intend To Cause Havoc’ WITCH, they could be considered the fathers of Zamrock. Formed in 1971, Witch was the first band to release an EP, triggering a number of Zambian labels such as Teal Records, Zambia Music Parlour to start signing up local bands.
The Witch line up changed frequently and featured a number of musicians who went on to record with other bands, building on the idea that the Zamrock scene was really a creative collective reflecting a time in the countries history.
Witch’s records are amazingly raw and honest, with shredding guitar riffs, rich, melodic guitar solos and rhythmic keyboard lines all backed by simple but fitting driving drum beats.
What sets apart Amanaz from its counterparts is the damaged mood that pervades their work. The band of freedom fighters paints a dark picture throughout as fuzz-laden, sludgy guitars add serious weight to the desperation of the songs.
While the record is pretty heavy, there is some levity on the more pastoral yet desolate “Kala My Friend” and the serene ode to the Velvet Underground, “Sunday Morning.” “Africa” is a brilliant standout featuring a creepy melody, reverb-drenched guitars and a funky percussive breakdown.
Peace was one of Zamrock’s prominent 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 scene: a lost message drifting from the flower power era, imbued with a fiery Zambian voice.
Also worth notice is the amazing artwork that went into the albums. Here are some more samples.