Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Zzebra - 1974 - Zzebra

Zzebra
1974
Zzebra



01. Cobra Woman (6:14)
02. Mr. J (4:17)
03. Mah jang (5:10)
04. Ifé (6;20)
05. Spanish Fly(4:16)
06. Amuso Fi (5:16)
07. Rainbow train (5:05)
08. Hungry Horse (6:45)

Loughty Amao - percussion, sax, flute, vocals
Liam Genockey - drums, vocals
Dave Quincey - sax
Terry Smith - guitar
Gus Yeadon - piano, guitar, vocals
Tommy Eyre - keyboards, flute, vocals
John McCoy - bass



Zzebra came out of the ashes of the British brass-rock band IF and ex-OSIBISA member joining forces with singing keyboardist Gus Yeadon . Main songwriter and wind-player Dave Quincy and guitarist Terry Smith had left If after their fourth album and met Loghty Amaio to found ZZebra, which was set to incorporate lots of African music elements. Irish drummer Liam Geniocky and Scott John McCoy on bass rounded the line-up. Keyboardist and wind-player (and also songwriter) Gus Yeadon left throughout the first album's recording, bringing the much-travelled Tommy Eyre (ex-Ainsley Dunbar and Mark-Almond) to finish up anf thus remaining a sextet. The music was a special brand of funky brass-rock that could easily compare with MANDRILL, CYMANDE, OSIBISA and DEMON FUZZ or even WAR (with or without Eric Burdon)

Later the same year, they recorded their second album called Panic, but by that time, they'd become a septet by hiring Alan Marshall on vocals. During the Panic (album's name) recording sessions, guitarist Terry Smith left, so in came Steve Byrd to finally make the line-up stable. The band kept on touring in the UK and US, but for some reasons, the group never released their third album, until the Disconforme label reissued the two historical albums, doing the same for Take It Or Leave It in 99.

Zzebra's debut album is a most enjoyable jazzy ethnic brass rock enveloped in a sublime night/day window artwork, released late 74. The sextet present up to three brass player in its line-up, namely Quincy, Yeadon and Amao but the first two also play keyboards, while the third adds all of those delightful percussions. Interestingly enough the three brass players are the main songwriters as well and in the decreasing order I placed them. Completed by other If man Smith on guirtars and the Gaelic rhythm section of Genocky and McCoy, the group saw Gus Yeadon leave more or less at the end of the album's recording, and his buddy Tommy Eyre came in a did the remaining parts still missing, but he ended up staying.

Starting on the delightful Cobra Women, a last beat heating up periodically to fit the more nervous/dramatic passages, this track being with Spanish Fly one of the album's highligths. The following two tracks Mr J and Mah Jong are definitely more upbeat, both electric piano-driven and can easily be confused, for I find numerous sonic similarities between them. Ifé is a very sweet- African starting track that gives much flavour to this group. The afore-mentioned Spanish Fly has a dramatic tinge to it, and although Terry Smith is no Carlos Santana, he doesn't ridicule himself either. Amuso Fi starts softly to disappear in a percussion solo (or duet with Genocki), before re-appearing amidst plenty of piano and the overlong repetitive outro. Rainbow Song is easily the weak link of the album, with a pure brassy RnR beat and no invention or even catchy hooks for itself. Hungry Horse however more than makes up for it with incredible splash of virtuosi musical interplay, including a bunch of percussion breaks. It's just a bit too long in its closing section with the repetition of the chorus.

While maybe not as exciting as Cymande or Mandrill's debut album, Zzebra's first album still remains very much worth hearing and even owning. If you're into much brass instruments in your music, Zzebra is right up your alley.

1 comment:




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