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Zzebra - Panic CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.56 | 24 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars ZZEBRA were a seven-piece British Jazz-Rock/Fusion band, partly consisting of ex-members of IF and OSIBISA, so you can expect to hear some funky African vibes in the four albums they recorded together. Zzebra released two back-to-back albums in the mid-1970's:- "Zzebra" (1974) and "Panic" (1975), and they also recorded a third and fourth album around the same period, but those two albums, "Take It Or Leave It" and "Lost World", ended up being left behind and almost lost to the world. In fact, those two long-lost albums wouldn't see the light of day until a quarter of a century later when they were released on an independent label in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

Get ready to strut your funky stuff and go wild in the jungle with the title track of Zzebra's second album: "Panic". These funky Jazz Zzebra's are really funking it up (not something you'd want to say out loud for obvious reasons) and firing on all cylinders. "Panic" certainly has a frenetic urgency to it - with it's pounding rhythm and storming horn section - even if it's not an all-out panic attack. This is heavy Jazz-Rock ramped up to 99 and then some! This stunning septet of musicians have really nailed it when it comes to getting down into the groove and pumping up the volume. WARNING! Don't even attempt to dance to this manic music or there'd be panic at the disco and you'd be absolutely knackered, quite honestly. There's no way anyone could keep up with these guys on the dance floor, not even Mr Saturday Night Fever himself, John Travolta. Zzebra have really earned their stripes with this very impressive opening. Panic over now, because we're in very familiar territory for our second song, as it's none other than "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", the old Righteous Brothers smash hit which received an after- burner boost from Tom Cruise in the blockbuster movie, Top Gun. This instrumental version by Zzebra is pretty much in cruise-control, with its mellow laid-back groove, so you may be inspired to relax and just chillout for six minutes whilst listening to this cool and sophisticated Jazz. Listen out for the sax solo, which is simply sensational. There's no clue as to what the third piece of music "Karrola" actually means, as it's an instrumental. One thing's for sure though, "Karrola" sounds like a wild beast (or maybe a wildebeest) on the rampage. It's a resounding percussive artillery barrage of storming Jazz-Rock which kicks like a mule (or indeed, kicks like a Zzebra!). Moving on now..... Is it a lamb? Is it a llama? No, it's a "Liamo", whatever that is!? "Liamo" sounds like a pretty tame animal, because the music is somewhat subdued compared to the previous sonorous stampede, so it's not likely to unleash any wild animalistic urges this time around. It's not so much a funky fusion, but more of a laid-back ethno-spiritual chant, where the only "lyrics" to be heard are "Liamo" repeated ad infinitum until the fade-out. It might not get the jungle juices flowing in the same way as "Panic" or "Karrola", but the song still has a powerful bite to it.

Look out! There's a psycho about! The grimly-titled "Death by Drowning" is the weirdest and creepiest piece of music on the album and a complete contrast to any of the four pieces of music on Side One. "Death by Drowning" has a very eerie and sinister air to it in the opening, sounding like the kind of atmospheric music you might hear in a psychological thriller just before the killer leaps out of the shadows. The Basic Instinct/Fatal Attraction-style music has a pleasant change of pace midway through though with a soothing alto sax solo, which somewhat lightens the dark sense of foreboding, so it should be safe to come out from behind the sofa now. The sixth piece of music "Tree" is also pretty subdued, invoking memories of some of the finest Canterbury Scene music. Wait a minute though..... What's this!?? Out of nowhere comes a thrilling synthesiser solo - ala Rick Wakeman - where caution is thrown to the wind in a magnificent display of keyboard wizardry. After that wild and unexpected outburst, the music returns to a mellower mood for the conclusion, in what turns out to be a three- piece suite - and all in the space of six incredible minutes too. The solitary "Tree" turns out to be an acorn that's grown into a mighty oak. In fact, the album as a whole is a veritable forest of great music to feast your ears on. Get funky! The seventh song "Put a Light On Me" features the funkiest groove on the whole album. This is a song you can really get down and shake your booty to, if you're feeling particularly energetic, or if not, you can tap your feet along to it without leaving the comfort of your armchair. This immensely catchy tune is so infectious, you may need to be inoculated against it. "Put a Light On Me" will light a fire in your Soul! It's time to unleash the wild Zzebras in the Zzoo now with the eighth and final piece of music, "La Si Si-La So So", a kick-ass improvisational free-for-all of raw, unrestrained Jazz-Rock energy and power!

Are you in the mood for some funky Afro-Jazz-Prog? Let's hope so, because that's exactly what you get with Zzebra's sophomore album. Zzebra play their own supercharged version of high-energy Jazz-Rock, instilled with an extra dose of Zzeal and Zzest. There's something here to suit almost everyone's tastes:- Whether you want a rumble in the jungle with some storming Jazz-Rock, or whether you want to swing though the trees like Tarzan with some funky gibbon grooves, or maybe even get into a mellower mood with some cool and sultry smooth Jazz. As you'll no doubt discover, Zzebra are a diverse band of many stripes and colours. It's not all black and white with the music of Zzebra. In the endless menagerie of prog, it turns out two Zzees are better than one in the musical Zzoo.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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