Babies are learning how to shout!

Image result for WITCH zambia

I’ve just spent a very happy Sunday afternoon down a musical wormhole on YouTube, and if you can suggest a better way to spend your afternoon off, I’d be happy for you to give me directions.

Zamrock!

During this last week, rummaging haphazardly through all the music on my hard disk, I chanced upon this masterpiece of naïve seventies wah-wah by Zambian band The Peace. I’m an absolute slobbering galoot for anything like this (as I suspect you know), packed as it is with promenading guitars, hip-shaking righteousness and twangy finger-pointing. It’s truly a blessing.

Avail yourselves:

I’m sorry to report that I can find no YouTube footage of the actual band or indeed of any of their contemporaries from Seventies Zambia. At first thought, this is no surprise, until you consider the volume of Ethiopian and Somali music from the same decade there is online. I suspect this is because the similarities between the garage punks of the US and the more Hendrix-y Zambian bands of the Seventies, meant that they were never as close to the mainstream as their East African counterparts

There are however, a series of documentaries about the “Zamrock” scene of the time which do include some live footage and some really charming interviews. They were prompted I’d imagine by Now-Again Records’ excellent pair of compilations which has led me into this very pleasant afternoon’s reverie.

Watch this, and you’ll know as much as I do about the whole movement:

[“Rock’n’Roll is three chord stuff, it’s simple music… but we’re having fun. I’m getting paid for it!” – the world over, my friend.]

All of the bands mentioned are part of the Now-Again compilations, and I’ll put you on notice that if I can get my shit together, there’ll be at least an Amanaz post appearing on these pages during half-term.

The band not mentioned so much in here are WITCH (“We intend to cause havoc”), who, featured members of The Peace and I think, these days, might be the most well-known of all the Zambian bands of the era, still gigging as they do.

We’re lucky to have this wonderful 40-minute performance of original WITCH members Emanyeo “Jagari” Chanda and Patrick Mwondela breezing through a live performance in the Boiler Room from 2017, backed by a series of foppishly clad dudes, one of whom is Dutch psych-student Jacco Gardner.

It’s irrepressible, irresistible, irreproachable stuff!

At first, I was a bit cynical about the presence of these earnest young lads (until you hear the wah-wah and how stompingly good they are) but then it becomes more than a little poignant when you realise that in  common with all these crate-digging posts – the rest of the original band members are just no longer with us.

In another video, there’s a very sad clip of Jagari Chanda recalling the sheer number of his co-musicians and bandmates who were taken by the appalling AIDS epidemic that Africa continues to experience…

“I’m not saying I’m clever. I’m not saying I’m clever that’s why I’m alive, no. It’s not that my friends were careless, were reckless, but they were living in self-denial. And then also they did not have means to go to good hospitals and see proper doctors to tell them what to do, but looking at the number of people that died who by now would have been making different music, who would’ve matured, musically. But unfortunately, it was not to be…”

My favourite track of the Boiler Room session is “Toluka” which is an absolute joy (particularly if like a bit of wah-wah). Surrender to the cowbell and thank your lucky Sunday afternoon stars…

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