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World Music CD Reviews Africa

ZAMBUSH VOL. 2: ZAMBIAN HITS FROM THE 60s and 70s

By Bruce Miller
Published September 27, 2005

SWP

Aside from enriching African music sections in CD shops with release after release of Hugh Tracey’s dateless field recordings, Michael Baird’s SWP label has been responsible for enhancing what we know of vintage Zambian pop music. And while Volume One of this set chose to give an overview of the ’80s, a period defined by increasing musical glossiness and even further emphasis on danceability, it’s volume two’s earlier recordings, featuring the Big Gold Six, Emmanuel Mulemena and Nashil Pichen Kazembe, that prove truly indispensable. The Big Gold Six tracks are the earliest, and feature glistening guitar licks suggestive of the Congo’s concurrently popular Dr. Nico. Mulemena’s four acoustic pieces are true gems. There’s virtually none of the staccato intensity associated with acoustic players from the country’s copper mines; instead, an introspective tranquility reminiscent of Mwenda Jean Bosco permeates his sides. Finally, Kazembe’s more overtly dance-driven electric tracks suggest the sounds heard on volume one, sans slickness. In fact, these tracks benefit from the fact that they were pulled from original vinyl, as no master tapes exist.