Rare afrobeat album from 1979. Having shown talent for playing guitar at a young age, Josi Ndlovu (Zimbabwe) started his first rock band The Movers (who were very popular within the local scene) in 1968. By the early 70s, Josi was already an acclaimed guitarist and a member of the revolutionary rock bands Wells Fargo and Eye of Liberty who were critical opponents of the racist Rhodesian government.
Prosecuted and harassed by the police for being a supporter of the independence movement, Josi Ndlovu had to move to Lusaka (Zambia) in 1975...it was here that he met his musical soulmate (Osibisa collaborator and bassist extraordinaire) André Abrahamse from South Africa. They started playing together in several local acts together with drummer Peter Lungu (from Born Free and later in the legendary Zamrock band Witch).
In 1977, Josi and André decided to go to Lagos (Nigeria) where they found many fellow Zimbabwean and South African students in exile. It was a total culture shock and really rough on the both of them...but they got lucky and were able to stay with some friends they had worked with in London (Themba Matebese and Uwandile Piliso of T-Fire fame). It was also here that they were approached by the Nigerian label “Boom Records” who booked them to record at the Decca Studios in Lagos (home to many other renowned recording artists such as Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango and Ofege). The result of these recording sessions was Amandla (the Ndebele word for ‘Power’).
The now legendary Amandla studio project is one of the most interesting collaborations between dissident, exiled musicians during the apartheid era...a very engaging album which talks about the liberation movement in Zimbabwe (which was under British colonial rule), ‘people-power’ as a concept and the walk towards freedom by any means necessary. Banned from radio and distribution (because of its political content) in their native countries, the record however did very well in Nigeria.
On Amandla the listener will find many genres blended together very successfully...a lot of smooth chordal Afro-soul, Blues soloing, Afro-disco-reggae with a dominant funk feeling surrounding it and a LOT of rock influences! Their groovy tunes went down smoothly on the dance floor and one can clearly hear the Fela Kuti-influenced beats pouring out of (Lagos scene regular) Buttley Moore’s fantastic drum work. Other influences are also very diverse...from acts and styles that include Zamrock, Earth Wind and Fire, Isaac Hayes, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, local folk music, etc. All of this makes the album a total must- have for any collector and fan of the afro-beat-funk genre.