22 February 2015
Formed in 1973 in Kitwe, Zambia, A.M.A.N.A.Z an acronym for; "Ask Me About Nice Artists In Zambia", became an instant hit drawing attention from various music promoters of that time like Zambia Music Parlour Limited (ZMPL) director "Edward Khuzwayo" and producer "Billy Nyati" and "Teal Record Company". Former band leader "Keith Kabwe", who is one of the three survivors of the five-man outfit, says it was unfortunate that the band which caused mayhem in various night spots in Lusaka and the Copperbelt, could easily crumble just like that."You know sometimes when you become big and hit such fame, that is when things like that happen, you just disintegrate. That is how we broke up in 1976", Kabwe explains in a recent interview.
Kabwe recalls that, the band was getting well known throughout the country with a number of public appearances in Country clubs, Hindu Halls and other renowned places and its fame had spread like wild fire within a short time of its formation.
The band comprised seasoned guitarists that included Keith, who had just joined from "The Clusters" on vocals and tambourine, "John Kanyepa" from "The Black Souls" in Kitwe on lead guitar and vocals, "Watson Lungu" (drums, vocals), "Jerry Mausala" from Macbeth on bass guitar and "Isaac Mpofu" who broke away from the "Wrong Number" on rhythm guitar.
It was a fantastic combination considering that, all the musicians were well exposed and full of experience producing rare but heavy sounds which constituted the "Zam-Rock" beat.
"It was a humble beginning that brought together some of the best musicians in the country", starts Kabwe as he recalled how the band was formed.
Kabwe says it happened at the time when he was working as dispatch clerk at Caltex at the oil terminal in Ndola and one of his colleagues, "Watson Lungu" and "Jerry Mausala" who were both with "The Macbeth" then performing at Nchanga Hotel, decided to break away from that group.
"Keith Mlevhu had also quit Macbeth and we were looking for more members and at that time, we decided to bring our instruments to Ndola at Jerry's sister in Kansenshi residential but we later shifted to Kitwe where members Isaac Mpofu and John Kanyepa joined us", Kabwe says.
The band then settled in Kitwe and was looked after by a colleague "Sundie Ngoma" at the Copperbelt University (CBU) campus then called Zambia Institute of Technology (ZIT).
It appeared that the band was now ready for action and started rehearsals in Kitwe putting together numbers which later became memorable hits.
In the same year of its formation Amanaz clinched a deal with both Teal and ZMPL and put their works on record at Malachite studios in Chingola and released their debut album, Africa which was well received by the fans.
Amanaz give their most thanks to "Edward G. Khuzwayo", who sponsored the entire recording, and not forgetting "Billie David Nyati", who assisted on behalf of Music Parlour Limited to arrange the songs during recording sessions.
There are two original pressings of this album with completely different mixes. These productions suffers from very crude recording.
"Zam-Rock" emerged in 1970s Zambian music scene out of the dual influence of "Jimi Hendrix"'s acid guitar and "James Brown"'s funk.
Amanaz' psychedelic tracks are built around Fuzz guitars riffs and lead-singer "Keith Kabwe"'s baritone vocals. The lyrics — sung in both Bemba and English — as well as the music showcase remnants of a post-colonial Western influence that "Zam-Rock" groups like Amanaz would mold into their own sound.
A blend of bluesy, soulful, psychedelic and more hard-to-find elements, in a quite singular result. The recording roughness is close to the extreme, retreating the serious heaviness these songs would have if better recorded ("Green Apple", for instance, carries a quite Black Sabbath-ish dose of riffs), but, in the other hand, giving a great, most pleasurable old and full-of-dust feel to the album.