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Christiana J  S Roberts

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Christiana Roberts

SONG OF THE DAY

Havoc - The Witch

Witch released Lazy Bones !!, in 1975. It is a work of sheer genius.

Listen to this track HERE

Download HERE

Difficult to come by, but you can try to buy HERE

The WITCH (the acronym stands for We Intend To Cause Havoc) were a Zamibian Rock (aka zam-rock) band producing music during mid-seventies an onwards. It was at this time that the troubled Republic of Zambia saw a thriving rock scene (that included Musi-O-Tunya, Amanaz, Peace, Rikki Ililonga and Chrissy Zebby alongside bands from Nigeria such as Blo and Ofege).

Lyrically they tackle some fairly standard sixties and seventies material with this album, like psychedelic trips (Strange Dream, Off Ma Boots) or seeking peace and understanding (Havoc). This was essentially reflecting the worlds socio-political climate at the time, specifically the conflict in Africa they were experiencing which gave a lot of the lyrics more weight than their American counterparts. Members of the WITCH were withstanding a lot of adversity first-hand living in Zambia, which was surrounded by turmoil during the mid-seventies. This can be heard in songs like Havoc, which sees vocalist Emmanuel Jaguri Chanda calling out ‘my kind is trying to destroy our world, i’m calling for all my brothers to shake hands and love each other’. The song begins with what sounds like faint gunfire, drowned out by some light cymbals and psych-folk drawling guitar but quickly kick-starts into a blistering lead guitar and rock solid rhythm with drummer Boidi Sinkala driving the track forward. While Zamirock is punctuated with catchy loops and hopeful lyrics and melodies, it remains to embody a slightly darker acid rock/psyc/funk overtone with heavy use of the Wah-Wah* peddle and obvious James Brown funk and Jimi Hendrix rock influences (this includes other zam-rock standouts Musi-O-Tunya, Amanaz, and Peace).

If your looking for a slick highly polished record, you wont find that here with this album. This definitely has a lot to do with the technical constraints of recording in 1970s Zambia, dispute its sometimes muddy sound, it adds to feeling of honesty and rawness of Lazy Bones !! It doesn’t help that the album leads with one of the bands weakest tracks ‘Black Tears’ but things pick up with the following ‘Mother and Child’.

Musically the WITCH are characterised by a sonorous marriage of gritty fuzz with a banging off-kilter funk inspired bass, drums and a Wah-Wah* backdrop accentuated by mesmerising free guitar solos and a hard driving edge with Chanda’s lazy vocal overtones a beacon of light guiding the way. The WITCH sound bears strong influences of funk, acid rock and psychedelic rock. The pared back recording gives it a garage rock vibe, prevalent in many Zam-rock albums, while they had an innate funk and rhythm (majorly influent from traditional African rhythm and beats) they all reflected a darker more gritty sound. Chanda’s English vocals, while seeming at time stilted, are impart due to the Anglophilic influences in their music and to the fact that the national language was in fact English at the time. 

The WITCH records were originally released on a small label (who incidentally also released the blissful Amanaz), and have been out of print and incredibly rare for decades. This all changed in 2007, when Stones Throw Records general manager and Now Again Records owner Egon came together after viewing a Myspace page by Zam Rock pioneer and artist Rikki Ililonga. Egon and Ililonga began corresponding, which led to Ililonga putting Egon in touch with WITCH vocalist Emmanuel Jaguri Chanda. Following this Now-Again, in conjunction with Zam Rock pioneer Rikki Ililonga, has licensed the WITCH repertoire from the ensemble’s last surviving member, Emmanuel Jagari Canda, and the Amanaz Africa album from the band’s Keith Kabwe and Issac Mpofu. Vinyl issues of WITCH’s Introduction and Lazy Bones and Amanaz’s Africa are out on Shadoks; CD issues licensed from Now-Again were released early 2010. During 2010, Now-Again also presented a Rikki Ililonga anthology. Plans are in the works for a more colplete WITCH anthology and a Zam Rock compilation. 

This is taken from the original record back cover:

"If you’re feeling depressed, low, disturbed, irritable, out-of-sorts, sad, frustrated or wildly demented, then folks, we suggest you seek out a quiet place, indulge in some soothing meditation and cut away that headache by listening to this inspirational album (we’ve even included a copy of our lyrics to assist those who have difficulty in understanding the messages we transmit, in the hope that this will help them dig the LP in total). We would also like to extend out thanks to all those who have supported us int he past - we wish you well, brothers and sisters. To those of you who have been unkind and deliberately troublesome, we suggest you go jump in the lake specially featured for you on our cover. In closing, a special tribute to out collaborator Shaddick Bwalya for his tremendous contribution to this album. Right on, Witch!” 

*The ‘Wah-Wah’ sound is created with the use of a ‘Wah-Wah’ peddle, essentially a tone filter pedal that sweeps from bass to treble and back creating a vocal-like ‘wah’ sound. Jimi Hendrix was one of the early users, can be heard on countless Soul and Funk songs of the 60s and 70s.