Record of the Day – Amanaz – Africa (1975)

The story of rock music from 1970s Zambia (aka “Zamrock”) is a fascinating one and worthy of a long read (seriously, Google it!!). Without delving into the history in great detail here, much of the musical output of this small southern African nation has only become available outside of the country in the last 5 years. In fact, even with the revival of interest in the country and its music, the majority of it may well have been lost to the annals of history. Thankfully for us, today’s Record of the Day, Africa by Amanaz, is one of the albums that escaped this cruel fate. And we are all the richer for it.

Originally released in 1975 at the height of the Zamrock era, this brilliant album was re-released to wider distribution by Now-Again Records in 2015. Combining psychedelia, 70s rock influences, funk, and soul with Zambian folk music traditions, the band sings in a combination of English and local Zambian dialects.

While the English-language songs may be some of the most accessible on first listen (check out I Am Very Far, History of Man, Making the Scene and Easy Street, for instance), some of the most memorable tracks are sung in the Zambian dialects of Nyanja and Bemba (Nsunka Lwendo, Africa and Kale are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G). The album also has a nice sprinkling of instrumental gems, such as Amanaz and Green Apples, and can slow it down (Sunday Morning and Khala My Friend) just as powerfully as it rocks hard.

There is little I can say that will truly do this album justice – it is too good for mere words. You simply must listen!

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Remember the girl that worked at the record store who could talk your ear off about your favourite band? The one you always ran into at local shows and who had a program on college radio? That was me.

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