ZMPL 15 // TEDDY CHISI - Limbikani (1975)


The debut album from Kitwe-based singing accountant Teddy Chisi, Limbikani translates as “be strong” and the title track encouraged Zambians to work hard to develop the country despite trying economic times in the mid-70s. Chisi would go on to leave a notable mark on the Zamrock scene via three albums and multiple singles in his distinctive soul-funk crooner style. Releasing material on Zambia Music Parlour, Teal, Motaxis, Mac Bullet and Chris Editions, Chisi appears on all the important Zamrock imprints. His lo-fi albums were accompanied by the Fireballs, who would eventually morph into his backing band as the Mo Solid Sounds.

ZMPL 1 // THE TINKLES - Chalo Kuwama (1974)

WITCH’s “private press” edition of Introduction in 1972 and a clutch of singles from Musi-O-Tunya in 1973 are rightly heralded as the first Zamrock recordings issued on vinyl. But given that these projects were produced and pressed in Kenya, the Tinkles lay claim to a more significant Zambian music title. Issued in 1974 as the inaugural long-player on the fledgling Zambia Music Parlour label, the Tinkles debut Chalo Kuwama was the first Zamrock album recorded, manufactured and commercially released in Zambia. It was a game changer.

“The whole project was an experiment,” recalled founding member and keyboardist Isaac Makunta, reflecting on the recording session at Malachite Studios in the Copperbelt, a facility that was set up to produce promotional films for the mining industry. And yet, with modest resources, an exquisite and enduring slab of garage-era Zamrock was created. The Tinkles would go on to record several singles and the sophomore release Muchacho in 1975 before disbanding.

WITCH Disco Singles 1980-1984

By the end of the 1970s, WITCH was a Zambian music institution. Active since 1972, they had survived the Zamrock years and left an impressive garage, psych and prog discography in their wake. But at the outset of the 1980s, the band was ready to embrace the modern sounds of a new era. Undertaking personnel changes and relocating to Zimbabwe, they were primed by the independence celebrations of their neighbouring country to undertake their mythical transformation into an African disco powerhouse.

With access to a state of the art recording studio in Harare, WITCH produced two exquisite albums in the early 1980s. Appearing in 1980, Movin’ On was preceded by the single “My Desire,” which featured new member Christine Jackson on lead vocals. With an upfront funky bass-line, falsetto backing vocals, swirling synths and tight horns, it was a searing hot disco offering that made no bones about the fact that the WITCH was ready to get down. Composer/vocalist Stanford Tembo’s mid-tempo burner “You Are My Sunshine” was the perfect fit for the flip.

Documenting the band’s drift from disco into boogie, WITCH’s final album Kuomboka was released in 1984 without an accompanying single. New lead vocalist Patrick Chisembele injected youthful energy and a modern soul edge, most notably on “Erotic Delight” with its crisp drums, slinky keys and intoxicating bass groove. Pop reggae was also within the album’s stylistic purview by way of the closer “Jah Let the Sunshine” as well as “Change of a Feeling,” the flip side of a recently discovered single that wasn’t originally released.

DIGITAL SINGLES: WIT 4 | WIT 5



The Story of // WITCH - Introduction (Private Press Version)

The WITCH occupy a vaulted position in the history of Zamrock owing to a discography that maps the decade-long trajectory of the genre itself from garage beginnings through psychedelic experimentation to progressive heights and even later into disco and boogie. While none of their albums are weak links, Lazy Bones!! in 1976 is often cited as the band's magnus opus and was certainly a high-water mark in terms of lyrical songwriting. As a historic document of Zambian popular music, however, nothing beats the group's debut Introduction. The privately pressed edition of the album was heralded as the first Zamrock recording ever to be carved into wax. From a cover depicting parachutes dropping out of a UFO in the sky to the  "here it comes" chant of the title track album opener, Introduction boldly announced the arrival of Zamrock as a sonic artform with the vinyl record as its medium.

Taking as their name the abbreviation of the phrase "We Intend To Cause Havoc," the original lineup of the WITCH included Chris Mbewe of the Twangs on lead guitar, Boyd Sinkala of the Black Souls on drums as well as John Muma (rhythm guitar) and Gedeon Mwamulenga (bass) from the Boyfriends. Fronting the ambitious ensemble on vocals was the band's youngest member Jagari Chanda, who had cut his teeth in Kingston Market as a schoolboy. Under the management of Phillip Musonda, WITCH recorded Introduction and its follow-up In the Past independently at Malachite Studios and took the master tapes to Kenya to be pressed. It is estimated that around 200 or 300 copies of these private pressings were manufactured for distribution at live shows.

Parting ways with Musonda, WITCH approached executive producer Edward Khuzwayo in Ndola, who financed a re-recording and re-branding of the albums for release in the wake of LPs by the Tinkles and Edward Mulemena on his fledgeling Zambia Music Parlour label. Gone were the cute illustrations of the private pressings as the new editions displayed slick photos of the band instead. And while the production values of the Zambia Music Parlour editions were an improvement, Introduction was no longer the spontaneous garage snapshot of the genesis of Zambia’s most beloved rockers.

The Story of // AMANAZ - Africa

 

In the mid-70s, vocalist Keith Kabwe received a call from disbanded Mabeth bassist Jerry Mausala, who pitched the idea of starting a new band. Former Wrong Number guitarist Isaac Mpofu was enlisted and rhythm guitarist John Kanyepa was so impressed by the trio's early take on Wishbone Ash that he left the Black Souls to join as well. Watts Lungu filled the drummer's seat and the band moved to Mfwila to hone their chops at the local country club before joining the competitive live circuit in Ndola. Mpofu's guitar antics made him one of the band's big draws but vocalist Kabwe was not easily outdone, taking on a creative approach to costumes and stage gimmicks. Having seen Alice Cooper perform with a python wrapped around his body and taken by David Bowie's glam persona, Kabwe came up with unannounced and often shocking stage outfits. His pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance was a coffin on stage from which pounced to open the show in a skeleton costume.

Taking a queue from WITCH, the band name Amanaz (pronounced Amanazee) stands for “Ask Me About Nice Artists in Zambia.” The group's solitary release Africa in 1975 carries a good dose of concept album gravitas, challenging hegemonic narrative with “History of Man” and lamenting slavery and colonialism with its title track as well as the album closer “Kale.” The tone of the record was set by a cover displaying a photo session of the group in hippie regalia (including bell-bottoms, platform shoes, puffy scarves and floppy hats) while posing in front of the thatched houses of a traditional African village.

The story of the making of the album bolsters its mythological status as vocalist Keith Kabwe confesses that only three days were dedicated to the writing and preparation of the material that was recorded. Moreover, the band as well as Zambia Music Parlour A&R Billie David Nyati who oversaw the sessions were unconvinced by its unusual sound and lathered an alternate edition of the master in reverb to try and improve it. Little did they know that both versions of Africa would go on to be equally admired and that the album would be rightfully identified as an African rock masterpiece when the first wave of Zamrock reissues was introduced to the rest of the world in the 2000s. Amanaz reshuffled after the release of Africa, bringing Ricky Banda on board and recording a pair of singles as the Kabwe-led outfit Drive Unit while Mpofu went on to launch and record as the Heathen.

The Story of // NGOZI FAMILY - 45,000 Volts

Paul Ngozi was the wild man of the Zamrock scene, an artist who embraced the accoutrements and antics of rock and brandished the electric guitar with a signature primitive style and brutal sonic intensity. Drenched in fuzz, phaser and wah-wah, Ngozi's tone and face-melting guitar solos are instantly recognisable in his capacity as bandleader of the Ngozi Family, supporting drummer Chrissy Zebby Tembo's outings or recording as a solo artist. "Ngozi" means danger, making the substation electrocution cover of his 1977 album 45,000 Volts particularly appropriate. The album's stylised sleeve was designed by bassist Norman Muntemba of the group Salty Dog, a man who played an important role in cultivating the aesthetics of Zamrock and tellingly went on to establish a successful advertising business in his later years. The LP was also released in Kenya with alternate artwork depicting an illustrated fist holding a bolt of lighting.

Paul Ngozi was born in the mean streets of Lusaka's Chibolya township on 10 January 1949 and cut his teeth with childhood friend Chrissy Zebby Tembo in the bands Scorpions followed by Three Years Before, a witty nod to British blues-rock giants Ten Years After. Filling the boots of departed co-founder and guitarist Rikki llilonga, Ngozi joined Kenya-based Zamrock pioneers Musi-O-Tunya for a brief stint and appeared on the non-album single "Tselugani." His debut album with Ngozi Family was the Zambia Music Parlour release Day of Judgement in 1976, an unschooled channelling of raw power that stretched Zamrock into the spectrum of proto-punk.

45,000 Volts on the Chris Editions label captures Ngozi Family at a creative peak in 1977 and the set provides a good balance of English and vernacular offerings set to some of Ngozi's most confident and accomplished fuzz riffing. The recording was beautifully captured by engineer Detef Degener at Sapra Studio in Nairobi with Chissy Zebby Tembo's drums and Tommy Mwale's bass prominently mixed to prop up Ngozi's guitar shenanigans. Noteworthy moments include the utterly obnoxious guitar intro/outro to "I’ll Be With U" and shades of Black Sabbath that creep into the ghost story "House of Fear."

The Story of // RICKY BANDA - Niwanji Walwa Amwishyo


One of the most esteemed and sought after bassists of the Zamrock era, Ricky Banda was involved in a broad array of collaborations and associations over the course of the 1970s. He started his career in a band called the Vendors with childhood friend Rikki Ililonga and both went on to support He-She Mambo (who later rose to fame as a Zambian soul, funk and disco figure). Alongside Keith Mlevhu in a band called The End, Banda toured the Democratic Republic of Congo and allegedly caught the attention of rumba legend Tabu Ley Rochereau. Banda also backed Teddy Khuluzwu of Dr. Footswitch fame and is prominently featured on the 1975 album Liquid Iron.

Providing almost half of the songwriting duties on the album, Liquid Iron was a pathway to Ricky Banda's first solo release entitled Niwanji Walwa Amwishyo in 1976. With both Rikki Ililonga and Keith Mlevhu inaugurating Zamrock's rise of the solo artist, Banda got in on the action with a sturdy offering of his own. Emulating his contemporaries, he performed all of the instruments on the album with the exception of the drums, for which he enlisted a handful of session musicians including Peter Lungu of Born Free. The result is a laid-back and well-balanced singer-songwriter outing that had the honour of following WITCH’s acclaimed Lazy Bones!! as the second release on Teal's Zambezi imprint. Like Amanaz, the album cover photo juxtaposes the modern and the traditional with Banda in hip garb waving a ceremonial African fly swatter in one hand while raising the other in a peace symbol.

The album opener is the standout track and a unique piece of songwriting in the Zamrock canon. Foreshadowing the eery perspective of "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Who’s That Guy?" casts Banda as a creepy voyeur obsessing over a wealthy man courting the woman of his affections. Responding to President Kaunda's call for Zambian music to explore nation-building themes, the album’s title track criticises alcoholism and its effect on families and community. Ricky Banda went on to record a second album for Teal, using a backing band this time and turning his moral radar to the vice of gambling. Decades later, Ricky's brother Rupiah Banda would serve as the President of the Republic of Zambia from 2008 and 2011.

The Story of // CROSSBONES - Wise Man




In addition to just a handful of non-album singles, Wise Man is the sole recorded output from Crossbones and covers a spectrum from rock fury to psychedelic dirge while touching on local rhythms and even offering pair of female vocal ballads. The band was the brainchild of vocalist and drummer Nicki Mwanza, who co-founded the original lineup of Born Free in the early 1970s after launching his career in a group called Afro-Dynamite. Born Free, however, would evolve into the Mike Nyoni outfit that recorded the Zambia Music Parlour release Mukaziwa Chingoni in 1975. Mwanza started the band Crosstown Traffic after Born Free and later merged the two names to come up with Cross-Borns, hence Crossbones. The album was recorded at Lusaka’s dB Studios in 1976 and was the third release on the Teal imprint Zambezi following Ricky Banda’s Niwanji Walwa Amwishyo.

The lineup on Wise Man saw Mwanza taking vocal and percussion duties flanked by searing hot guitarists George Mlauzi and Henry “Mad Doc” Nkatha with Joe Tembo on bass, Richard Shachobe on drums and Sebby Nyirongo on organ. The band’s secret weapon was female vocalist Violet Kafula, who contributed two compositions and lead vocal performances to the album. Working as an office clerk in Lusaka in the early-70s, Kafula befriended Born Free as a fan and later convinced Mwanza that she could sing. With the encouragement and foresight of dB’s female engineer Nikki Ashley, Kafula’s duet “Mwebalume Bandi” was released to promote the forthcoming Wiseman album and became a hit single that reportedly sold 14000 copies. Her famous lament of lost love paved the way for Kafula’s solo career as a cabaret artist fronting a variety of groups and cemented her place in music history as the “Godmother of Zambian Pop.”

In spite of foreboding skull and crossbones motif on the album artwork, a cursory back cover glance at the band photograph and original liner notes paint the picture of playful ensemble. The standout track “Sunshine & Rain” opens with a gloomy mood recalling Canadian Bonnie Dobson’s post-apocalyptic folk classic “Morning Dew” yet inverts expectations by painting a picture of a flourishing Zambian landscape of growth and optimism populated by happy children and farmers as well as city kids dressed in the latest fashions.

The Story of // FIREBALLS - Dots

Fireballs was founded by rhythm guitarist Michael Kafula in Kitwe and originally featured his nephew Jeff Mulenga as its frontman. Hailing from Wusakile, the original lineup rubbed shoulders with WITCH and Peace on the local scene and held equal sway. After recording a single with the band, Mulenga decamped to Lusaka and performed and recorded as Jeff & The Explosives, later releasing Journey to Kasama on executive producer Goodson Nguni's Flying Bird imprint in 1976. Fireballs managed a solitary LP release in the 1970s by way of the Zambia Music Parlour album On the Mountain in 1975. The set was recorded at Malachite Studios and featured Mike Kafula on vocals, rhythm guitar and organ alongside John Mulenga on lead guitar, Friday Mwile on bass and Brower Machuta on drums.

Dots is a remarkable unreleased recording that documents the On the Mountain lineup's return to Malachite Studios to record a second album in February 1978. In the booth were engineers Richard Hughes as well as Geoffrey Kachusha Mulenga, who had recorded the Amanaz Africa album in 1975. Mixed and sequenced but not slated for release, the album was soon forgotten and buried in time. Mike Kafula, however, held on tight to the master tapes until 2015 when he entrusted them to Canadian producer Jason Connoy, who designed the album's retroactive sleeve.

Between the release of On the Mountain and the recording of Dots, Fireballs had a fruitful relationship performing with funk and soul crooner Teddy Chisi, who had first enlisted the group for his Zambian Music Parlour recording Limbikani in 1975. By 1977, Chisi's backing band had evolved into an ensemble called the Mo-Solid Sounds and boasted a three-piece brass section. Chisi's influence on the Fireballs clearly rubbed off on Dots with the band taking bold risks in funk and Afrobeat territory and even adding a unique smattering of Zamrock saxophone.

The Story of // 5 REVOLUTIONS - I'm a Free Man


Alongside Tinkles and Blackfoot, 5 Revolutions was one of the core groups in the Zambia Music Parlour stable and owe their existence to the nurturing and support of Edward Godfrey Khuzwayo's Ndola-based label. The band produced a compelling trio of Zamrock titles as well as a litany of singles, rounding out their career in the 1980s as a kalindula band with the seminal release Kachasu Ne Ndoshi. From their gritty debut Boyfriends to the sultry Mrs. Brown, 5 Revolutions explored a singularly Zambian take on rock with their second album I'm a Free Man being the best starting point for those new to the band.

Hailing from Kitwe, 5 Revolutions emerged in the early 1970s after members of Morris Mwape's group Boyfriends migrated to the bands WITCH and Peace. Vocalist and lead guitarist Mwape responded by assembling a 5-piece follow-up with a fresh moniker alongside Abel Mukumbwe on rhythm guitar, Zion Lofwa on bass, John Chibuye on drums and Lovemore Sakala on percussion. Owing to the marketing cache of their original name, 5 Revolutions gave the title Boyfriends to their debut release of 1975 and nodded once more to their Boyfriends origins in parentheses in 1976 on cover of I'm a Free Man, which was designed by a renowned Zambian sculptor Flinto Chandia at the outset of his creative career.

While embracing the garage rock textures of overdriven guitars and washed-out organs, 5 Revolutions had little interest in remaining tethered to 4/4 rhythms but were less Pan-African than Musi-O-Tunya in respect to their black musical influences. Instead, they found a way of articulating an acutely Zambian rhythm in rock format and are attributed with creating the foundational template of kalindula. In a nutshell, roots kalindula played on traditional instruments in ceremonial settings migrated to the electric instruments of a stage band through the innovations of the 5 Revolutions. A case in point is the opening track of I'm a Free Man entitled “Mwapulumuka Kunjala Adaka,” which employs 6/7 polyrhythms and ends by evoking a village dance happening featuring celebratory whistles and the plucked single-note bass from which kalindula takes its name.

The Story of // OSCILLATIONS - I Can See It Coming

The band Oscillations was formed in the early 1970s among a group of schoolmates at Chililabombwe High School under the leadership of Victor Kunda Kasoma and went on to release a solitary album entitled I Can See It Coming on the Teal label in 1977. A self-taught guitarist, Kasoma was born in Wusakile in 1957. With the unexpected onset of partial paralysis at the age of 10, Kasoma was diagnosed with polio and progressively lost the use of his legs. Demonstrating a natural talent for music, he was encouraged by a teacher who successfully lobbied the school to provide the necessary equipment for his budding teen band.

By the mid-70s, the Oscillations had become a force to be reckoned with on the Kitwe live music scene, performing at community halls, mine clubs and agricultural shows alongside Keith Mlevhu-led rivals The End. Interested in virtuosity and showmanship, Kasoma explored performing while rolling on the ground and was accomplished at plucking strings with his teeth. With polio having mildly affected his arms and fingers, he developed a signature lead guitar technique that drew creativity from his disability and cemented his position on the shortlist of Zamrock’s greatest guitarists. Moreover, his original compositions presented on I Can See It Coming showcased the breadth of his unique abilities.

Recorded at Malachite Studios, I Can See It Coming features Emmanuel Masele on rhythm guitar, Sylvester Mwape Ngwira on bass and Christopher Juggie Tembo on drums. With a 4-minute guitar intro for the album opener “Request to God,” Kasoma’s instrument is firmly established as the driving force of the album and his guitar work is nothing short of astonishing. Notable too is the album’s illustrated cover evoking a warrior goddess archetype and the folk tale “Kapande” that tells the story of a hunter’s encounter with a monster in the forest.

WITCH in Zimbabwe // The Story of "Freedom Fighter"


At the outset of the 1980s, Jagari Chanda, vocalist and founding member of the WITCH, left the band and effectively brought an end to what is considered the group's Zamrock period. He had been joined in 1979 by an additional vocalist named Stanford Tembo, who had cut his teeth a decade earlier fronting a group called Suzie Q. Until Chanda's departure, Tembo would alternate with the WITCH stalwart, appearing in different sets or for different bookings depending on the venue and audience or at the request of promoters. Attending to the group on an ad hoc basis while still holding down a job as a lecturer at Kabwe Trades Training Institute, Tembo was part of an expanding lineup that became increasingly interested in exploring WITCH's potential as a vehicle for modern dance music in the vein of Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. Also joining the existing core of Chris Mbewe on guitar, Gedeon Mulenga on bass and Boyd Sinkala on drums were two former bandmates from the group Guys & Dolls in the form of Patrick Mwondela on keyboard and Emmanuel Makulu on guitar. Rounding out the new WITCH family was Shaddick Bwalya, a producer who wrote compositions for the band and contributed backing vocals in the studio.

Patrick Mwondela (England - February 2021)

With the momentous shift to independence energising and drawing attention to their neighbouring country, WITCH looked to Zimbabwe (then still Rhodesia) as a new frontier in early 1980 and took on a residency at Mockey's Hotel in Bulwayo, the country's second largest city. It was here that Tembo was inspired to resurrect a composition that he had written a couple of years earlier about the independence struggle in Mozambique. Reflecting the political moment they were bearing witness to, WITCH added "Freedom Fighter" to their setlist with an English intro and new lyrics in Shona, Zimbabwe's most widely spoken language. Following a successful show at Bulawayo's Happy Valley Hotel alongside Zimbabwean rockers Wells Fargo, WITCH were invited to appear at a music festival at Gwanzura Stadium in the Rodesian capital. The event was part of the build-up to the official independence ceremony on 18 April 1980 that would showcase an appearance by Bob Marley & The Wailers at Rufaro Stadium.

Stanford Tembo (Lusaka, Zambia - July 2020)

It was at Gwanzura Stadium that "Freedom Fighter" would be responsible for one of WITCH's most memorable live appearances. When the song was played, a euphoric Zimbabwean crowd responded to the Shona lyrics by storming the stage and absconding with lead singer Tembo to conduct a spontaneous victory lap around the sports field on which the concert took place. The band held the rhythm until Tembo's return, whereupon he sang it from the top for good measure. WITCH took the opportunity to capture the zeitgeist and lay down the song at a studio in Harare but Tembo had to attend to work responsibilities at home in Kabwe and was unavailable for the session. As such, drummer Boyd Sinkala stepped in as vocalist on the recording. Released in Zimbabwe with Bwalya's B-side "Funky Reggae" catering to the enthusiasm for the Jamaican sound generated by Marley, the WIT 3 single along with ZIM 134 ("Tendayi" b/w "Vandigumbura") would be the last WITCH releases under the management of Teal. However, WITCH would continue to record in Zimbabwe and the cutting-edge Shed Studios of engineers Steve Roskilly and Martin Norris would be their HQ for crafting their final two independent releases.

Occupying a no-man's land between the WITCH's Zamrock and disco periods, "Freedom Fighter" is the missing link of the WITCH story and has not been anthologised until now. Unlocking the mystery of how the WITCH shifted shape at the beginning of the 1980s, the transition from the Prog sensibilities of their final rock offerings to the synth-licked beats that would characterise their boogie albums is documented here at 45RPM. Marking its 40th anniversary, a 2021 SHARP-FLAT reissue of "Freedom Fighter" is a welcome addition to the incredible efforts that have been made to restore and share the legacy of Zambia’s most cherished band.

DIGITAL SINGLE