Saturday, January 24, 2009

GAZUMBI, AFRICAN SIXTIES GARAGE VOL. 1 LP (Nosmokerecords, definitely of European origin)

In honor of our newly-inaugurated president I thought I'd "write up" this collection of music that originated from the continent of his ancestral digs or at least the digs of his father, and if you're one of those non-believer types who thinks that all Africa ever produced in the way of music was a bunch of chanting and log-beating like you saw in TRADER HORN back when you wuz a kid you'll be in for a big surprise when you slap this one smack dab on the turntable of your Victrola!!! Y'see, all of the numbers featured on GAZUMBI were recorded by black men in Africa who were imitating white men in England imitating black men in the first place, and dare-I-say-it but African garage band rock is one concept I couldn't have thought up even in my wildest rockism fantasies! If you thought Arthur Lee was an anomaly just lend your lobes to such whacked out acts from the Motherland with crazed names like Os Rocks, Os Kriptons and Gino Garrido e Os Psicodelicos and tell me that they just don't sound like those groups who used to play down the street from you in Anytown USA back when kids were smart enough to do things as play rock & roll in between watching LEAVE IT TO BEAVER reruns! Richard Pryor once said that "In Africa there are no n----rs", and if this album is any indication of just what Africans aspire to be then they all wanna be Mick Jagger, no ifs ands or buts!

Nice package...reminds me of alla them great sixties compilations that were flooding the Midnight catalogs back in the eighties for a good fifteen bucks a pop with a nice four-color cover and pic sleeve repros on the back as well as a neet insert that lays it all down on the line as to just what rock & roll in Africa meant back in the mid-to-late-sixties (obviously the same thing that it meant just about everywhere else!). The sound quality is good enough, at the worst perhaps coming off like one of those great old Moxie EP's that were also cluttering up a variety of Bomp! catalogs back in the day. Not only that but this 'un's jam-packed with loads of tracks to the point where it coulda been called GOLDEN HOUR OF AFRICAN ROCK and I don't think the Kinks would have any grounds to sue! In these ripoff cheap sackka you-know-what days it's sure good to get hold of a bargain like this!

But it's the music that I really care about here, and GAZUMBI does more than its share to give a good cross-section of just what was going on in the garages of Africa back in those days of wild abandon! Some of this may be a bit "pedestrian" for the high energy freaks amongst us while others may seem a bit outside the garage band spectrum (as in Orquestre Veve's rehashing of Shocking Blue's "Venus"), but a good hunkin' portion of GAZUMBI should sate the standard BLOG TO COMM-inspired thirst for something new and different, yet in that tried and true ROCKISM tradition.

Thankfully no airport lounge acts to wow the rube tourists pop up here (even though a number entitled "Krakmen Twist" by the Congo's Les Krakmen does appear), and every bit of this is what I would call 100% garageoid performance and execution. The familiar (Conjunto de Oliviera Muge's Portuguese take of "I Had Too Much To Dream Tonight") mixes with the original music that owes plenty to the Stones/Animals/Beatles axis with a heaping dose of Amerigan re-writing of the form, and even a nifty folk rock track that owes a whole lot to the traditional music of the continent (H20's "Riens Des Mots") had enough charm and verve to sate even the more jaded amongst us old timers who thought they heard it all before and don't seem to want to hear it again.

Warning, there may be times when you feel like tuning out during the more time-tread numbers (maybe I never did have that much of an affection for some of these furriner instrumental surf stompers even if the surf was up in Mozambique!) but GAZUMBI is boss enough to be more than a mere rock geographical lesson and has enough pounce and smash to make it alongside all of the well-known garage crankers that have been embedded into our minds for longer than any of us oldtimers would care to imagine. And for you youngsters out there, with all of the current talk about "multikulturalism" and how all beliefs, creeds, ideas and sexual positions are equal just take a copy of GAZUMBI to school and tell your teacher that it's ALL bunk! Y'see, rock & roll is the ONLY international youth language, and if they can watusi and frug in Ameriga they sure enough can do it in Africa too! Really, it's the ONLY thing that truly binds us together, in a healthy, non-collective way!


Anonymous said...

Speaking of multiculturalism and '60s/early 70s rock from unlikely places, Chris, familiar with Cambodian rock at all?

What a shame that Pol Pot had all the Cambodian rockers killed (along with almost 2 million others)

- Michael Snider

Christopher said...

Yeah, I read about those Cambodian groups and how some refugees in California are trying to keep the memories alive. Sounds like another good avenue to peruse once I get some more money and time together!

BTW I forgot to mention that a South African group going by the name of Them appears on GAZUMBI and even though they most definitely aren't related to the Morrison bunch or any derivation thereof one must wonder whether or not they copped their name on purpose, or like in the case of the Australian Velvet Underground plead total ignorance. My moolah's on the former, though wasn't it more common for Swedish groups to cop the names of English hitmakers knowingly so?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Cambodians in California are trying to keep the memories alive - for example, the current group Dengue Fever.

Copying the names of hitmakers wasn't just confined to Africa and Sweden but existed in the USA. Thee Midniters copied their name from Hank Ballard & The Midnighters who they were big fans of - and Hank Ballard's Midnighters were still putting out records in 1964 when the East L.A. Midniters put out their first 45s.

Anonymous said...

friend-it is cazumbi not gazumbi

Christopher said...

friend-it sure looks like a "G" to me more than a "C", and I was pondering the correct title of this for a good hour or so before reviewing it!!!

But then again, you may be right but I still won't change it in order to preserve the integrity of the piece.

Karla said...

Looks, like it is Cazumbi.

Christopher said...

But can we be sure??? Look at the sharp point at the bottom of the first letter in the title which, at least to me, suggests an upper-case "G" Although there is no li'l tag protruding from the lower bend of the letter to make it look as if it were indeed a "G" the jagged angular look as opposed to a smooth curvature does make it look rather "G"-ish as opposed to "C"-ish to mine eyes!

Who knows, maybe I am right all along and all of those "Cazumbi" rooters, distributors included, are wrong! Now that would seem typical!