Paul Ngozi: The Ghetto

[7 October 2012]

By David Maine

Fuzzy, hard-rocking Afro-rock from 1976

Zambia’s Paul Ngozi was a major figure in that country’s 1970s rock ‘n’ roll movement (aka “Zamrock”), and he remains a popular figure to this day. The Ghetto was originally released in 1976. Reissued now by Shadoks Music, the disc features nine tracks of blissfully fuzzed-out, socially conscious riffage. Opening track “In the Ghetto” gets things rolling with an impassioned plea to parents to look after their children, but it’s the Deep Purple-style heaviness of “Help Me” and the head-banging “Who Will Know” that are the standouts here.

“Can’t You Hear Me” and “Jesus Christ” are very nearly as strong—the latter might be the funnkiest song ever written about Jesus—while the three non-English tracks, especialy “Ulesi Tileke”, provide a bridge between Western notions of pop music and indigenous musical forms. At less than 34 minutes, the album is disappointingly short, but it rocks effectively and is quite possibly unlike anything you’ve heard before.

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