Music Education

A Short Dive Into the History of Zamrock

The country of Zambia saw it’s population’s culture shift in a such drastic way more than one could imagine at the time and big reason for this was the birth and rise of Zamrock. But what exactly is Zamrock?

Well, the short answer to that question is a genre of music that originated in Zambia during the early 1970s that combines the sounds of local music, psychedelic, and garage rock sounds into the mainstream of the country’s music scene at the time. However, to truly understand the reason for Zamrock’s creation its important to know the history of Zambia during this time.

Official flag of Zambia
The official flag of Zambia

From Liberation to Creation

In 1964, Zambia gained its independence from British colonial rule and was fortunate enough to gain full control of the copper mining industry in the country which led to an economic boom. The first elected president of Zambia was Kenneth Kaunda and in an effort to create a national identity to further itself from its past colonial rule, Kaunda decided to invest heavily into the entertainment industry, specifically, the music industry.

As a result many young Zambians at the time became more and more musically inclined while taking influence from popular bands at the time like Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles.

Also, its worthy to note that during this time, all Zambian radio stations were required to play at least 90% Zambian music as this was an order given by Kaunda himself.

This gave many musicians an incentive to create music as making a song or an album essentially meant getting airtime on the radio. Thus, Zamrock was born with its first ever release in 1972 being “Introduction” by W.I.T.C.H.

Zambian rock band WITCH in concert (2021)
Zambian rock band W.I.T.C.H in concert (2021)

Notable Bands/Musicians

  • Salty Dog
  • W.I.T.C.H (We Intend To Cause Havoc)
  • The Boyfriends
  • Paul Ngozi & and The Ngozi Family
  • Amanaz
  • Rikki Ililonga
  • Musi O Tunya
  • Keith Mlevhu

The Decline of Zamrock

Unfortunately, Zamrock did not last long after its creation as the country went into a decline in many ways. First, it was the global decrease of the copper industry at the end of the decade which was 95% of Zambia’s export at the time. This was a major blow to the economic state of the country and sadly this wasn’t the only problem Zambia faced.

In 1984, an HIV/AIDS epidemic took place in Zambia. This event killed a significant amount of the adult population and this included many musicians. This not only was a huge loss for the general population of Zambia, but it ultimately was a large reason for the end of Zamrock.

Zamrock From Today’s Perspective

The music from Zamrock did not gain much traction outside of the country until much later on. Recently, thanks to the likes of Eothen “Egon” Alapatt and Now-Again Records, many bands and songs have been rediscovered by many all across the world through re-released and compilation albums of many Zamrock bands.

Zamrock has even managed to influence recent artists such as: Yasiin Bey (fka. Mos Def), Travis Scott, Yves Tumor, and Madlib through the use of samples.

On a Final Note

Looking back, The story of Zamrock is certainly a special one as this is something many people today not knowledgeable about it wouldn’t believe after first hearing about it. Seeing as how Zambia is a South Central African country who had not gained it’s independence up until relatively recently.

A picture of Victoria Falls
A picture of Victoria Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe

Nonetheless, Zamrock is an event that deserves to be remembered and seen as more of a movement than a genre as it served as a great part of Zambia’s liberation story.

Thanks for reading and learning with me!

– MJ :p

Classic Album Review

A Slate of Fall Albums For Fall ’23

We are well in to the fall season for 2023. So, I figured I’d do everyone a favor and present a slate of some classic albums released during the season I’d recommend for the ears of those in need of some fall tunes to jam to.

Cover art of "Tender Buttons" by Broadcast

“Tender Buttons” By Broadcast (2005)

Tender Buttons” is the third and final studio album from the U.K based group Broadcast. This album is the result of the work from the recently downsized duo of Trish Keenan (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and James Cargill (bass) following the exit of several band members.

This album can be described a more bare form of the music that many were accustomed to hearing from this band before its release. That being said, the base essence of dream pop and indietronica sounds can be heard in this album’s entirety.

Favorite Tracks:

  • “Michael A Grammar”
  • “Tears In The Typing Pool”
  • “Black Cat”

“Love Deluxe” By Sade (1992)

Considered a classic by many, “Love Deluxe” is the fourth studio album from English band Sade. This is an album very special to me as I often find myself frequently coming back to it and it will play the same for me at any time of day.

The album takes listeners through multiple genres including: cool jazz, classic R&B, and lush ambience all supporting the timeless vocals of lead singer Sade Adu.

Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pearls”
  • “No Ordinary Love”
  • “Like a Tattoo”

“Everything But The Girl” By Everything But The Girl (1984)

Everything But The Girl” is the self-titled release of the U.K based duo Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. The album itself consists of mainly a sophisti-pop genre with aspects of jazz and lounge music sounds.

A fun fact about this album is that Thorn and Watt were close friends with band members of The Smiths at the time and this album even features The Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr on the harmonica for the song “Native Land”.

Favorite Tracks:

  • “Tender Blue”
  • “Never Could Have Been Worse”
  • “Mine”

“The Ooz” By King Krule (2017)

While its the most recent album on this list, “The Ooz” holds a significant place in my heart. King Krule is the stage name of Archy Marshall and this project from him truly feels like a lost piece of media in its truest essence.

The album plays with a psychedelic core backed with mellow jazzy sounds along with many songs containing post-punk elements.

The lyrics on this album are some of my favorites not only from King Krule but in general for me, they are very hard to forget due to how well they are delivered on each track.

This album also highlights a fair amount of somber tones and topics along with the heavy theme of introspection from the point of view of Archy himself. I feel that the overall cool vibe of the album plays especially well in the fall season.

Favorite Tracks:

  • “Cadet Limbo”
  • “Slush Puppy”
  • “Dum Surfer”

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I’ll say once again that all of the songs on this slate are strong recommendations from me and I would go even further and say that these each of these albums were released during the perfect season for them.

Thanks for reading, hope this helped in some way and remember to stay cool.

– MJ :p

New Album Review

Album Review: “Remote Echoes” by Duster

I’m sure it was a pleasant surprise for many Duster fans waking up this past Friday morning to a new album on streaming services. “Remote Echoes” was more or less an unexpected release as the band made no announcement on any media platforms about its existence nor it’s release date being Sep. 29.

However, this album could be considered more of a compilation album as many of the tracks featured on this release are demos and come from past limited records such as “Christmas Dust” and “On the Dodge” as well as some unreleased tracks unheard of before until now.

So unfortunately, no new recordings were released on this album but I am still happy about its release and hold hope for new recordings in the near future.

I really feel that many avid listeners and especially longtime Duster fans will enjoy this release as many of the songs on this album were recorded during their earlier days and are now finally on streaming services.

The band’s label, The Numero Group, describes this release on their website as:

“Remote Echoes is a hissy, crumbly, and ungrounded expression of Clay Parton and Canaan Amber’s ongoing Duster project.”

-The Numero Group

Favorite tracks

Some of my personal favorite tracks from this release have got to be:

Final thoughts

As far as a rating goes, I personally don’t like to rate music on a number scale. Although, I heavily recommend a listen for this release if you’re into early Duster works such as “Contemporary Movement” and “1975” as well as a more fuzzy and muffled sound in general.

I, for one, am very pleased with this very early present from Duster and ever since going to one of their shows back in April at Cat’s Cradle, I’ve appreciated the fact that they still tour and have produced new music in recent years. I also hope that this release serves as an omen for future albums to come with new recordings.

-MJ :p