The Popstream: Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family, "Fisherman"


Let's talk about the wonders of last-minute panic-based inspiration. I was spending much of last night trying to figure out what to showcase in today's Popstream, eating reheated two-day-old Papa John's and pacing back and forth in my apartment with a look of sheer, unadulterated anxiety on my face. (It should be noted that some of this anxiety centered around the fact that I was not entirely sure if eating two-day-old Papa John's was going to send me down a lonely road filled with regret and stabbed-in-the-gut-with-a-penknife indigestion.) It was at this moment, with addled thoughts of High on Fire and Electric Wizard rattling through my brain, that I figured I could find something interesting if I did a YouTube search for the term "stoner rock". Well: I did.

I try not to post stuff if it's just audio with a static image, but I'm gonna make an exception here: this is the song "Fisherman," from Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngosi Family, a rock group from Chingola, Zambia. Information on these guys is rare -- a bit of research led me to discover that the 1974 release My Ancestors was Tembo's first album, recorded when he was 27, and that it was technically the second-billed "Ngozi Family Band" that is typically regarded as the actual proper name for the group. In any case, whatever preconceptions you might have about guitars in African pop music, whether they come from King Sunny Adé or Ali Farka Touré or Fela Kuti, don't really apply here -- this is some heavy shit, somewhere between the fuzzed-out garage rock of the pre-psychedelic mid '60s and the detuned doom riffs of early '70s proto-metal. Apparently this particular guitar sound (supplied in this case by Paul Ngozi, who shreds mightily) was in vogue in Zambia back in the mid '70s -- man, do I need to hear more of this.