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ZZEBRA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Zzebra biography
Founded in London, UK in 1973 - Disbanded in 1978

Zzebra came out of the ashes of the British brass-rock band IF and ex-OSIBISA member joining forces with singing keyboardist Gus Yeadon . Main songwriter and wind-player Dave Quincy and guitarist Terry Smith had left If after their fourth album and met Loghty Amaio to found ZZebra, which was set to incorporate lots of African music elements. Irish drummer Liam Geniocky and Scott John McCoy on bass rounded the line-up. Keyboardist and wind-player (and also songwriter) Gus Yeadon left throughout the first album's recording, bringing the much-travelled Tommy Eyre (ex-Ainsley Dunbar and Mark-Almond) to finish up anf thus remaining a sextet. The music was a special brand of funky brass-rock that could easily compare with MANDRILL, CYMANDE, OSIBISA and DEMON FUZZ or even WAR (with or without Eric Burdon)

Later the same year, they recorded their second album called Panic, but by that time, they'd become a septet by hiring Alan Marshall on vocals. During the Panic (album's name) recording sessions, guitarist Terry Smith left, so in came Steve Byrd to finally make the line-up stable. The band kept on touring in the UK and US, but for some reasons, the group never released their third album, until the Disconforme label reissued the two historical albums, doing the same for Take It Or Leave It in 99.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::

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ZZEBRA discography


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ZZEBRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.13 | 20 ratings
Zzebra
1974
3.56 | 24 ratings
Panic
1975
2.31 | 7 ratings
Take It Or Leave It
1999
2.53 | 6 ratings
Lost World
2001

ZZEBRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ZZEBRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ZZEBRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Zzebra / Panic
2010

ZZEBRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ZZEBRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Panic by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.56 | 24 ratings

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Panic
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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.

 Zzebra / Panic by ZZEBRA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Zzebra / Panic
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars ZZEBRA was one of many jazz-fusion bands of the mid-70s. Formed by ex-If members guitarist Terry Smith and saxophonist Dave Quincy along with ex-Osibisa percussionist, saxophonist and flautist Loughty Amao, the trio hooked up with ex-Love Affair keyboardist Gus Yeadon, bassist John McCoy and drummer Liam Genockey (as well as others) and released two classic fusion albums in the mid-70s as well as playing a robust circuit scene which got the band known as one of the harder working fusion outfits of the day.

Due to lack of interest the band broke up after releasing two albums: ZZEBRA and PANIC but recorded enough extra material for future archival releases. While both albums finally found remastered releases in 1999 on the Disconforme label, in 2010 both albums emerged on the Angel Air label as a 2 Cd two-fer which contains both albums impeccably remastered as well as six bonus tracks which includes the non-album single "Zurdoz" as well as four alternative mixes and a live version of "Liamo."

For the albums themselves, see reviews separately but if you have any interest at all in the progressive / Afro / jazz / funk / rock that ZZEBRA so beautifully crafted then this double disc set is the way to go. The music sounds so good as if it was all recorded in modern times but evokes the zeitgeist of the mid-70s when these sorts of fusion bands were fairly common place at least in the more progressive arenas of the rock spectrum. I've always compared ZZEBRA to a Nigerian styled Santana with an extra emphasis on jazz.

While this is a great way to get both 70s releases in one package, i wouldn't call any of the bonus tracks essential in any way. The single mixes of "Mr J" and "Amuso Fi" aren't tremendously different than the originals and although "Karrola" sounds great no matter how it's presented, the extra version isn't anything outstandingly different either. The track "Zardoz" is certainly a worthy addition but not worth going out of your way to track down either. Another interesting note is that the alternative mix of "Put A Light On Me" features a cameo appearance by Jeff Beck. "Liamo" offers a peek into the band's live set.

Doubtful that ZZEBRA will ever go down in history as one of prog's most celebrated acts but the band were technically outstanding and crafted instantly catchy melodies that featured bizarre blends of everything from Nigerian folk, funk, jazz, rock, Latin rock and even touches of flamenco. Add to that some seriously excellent instrumental interplay and infectious rhythms with Santana-esque percussion sections. All in all, ZZEBRA cranked out some quality fusion material with their two albums and the bonus tracks are just a little additional insight into the band's short but interesting existence. These multi-disc sets are my favorite way of accumulating the rarities of the past and this set is well worth it with interesting liner notes.

 Panic by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.56 | 24 ratings

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Panic
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars ZZEBRA was one of many fusion bands that emerged in the 70s however this band was not only a blend of the usual jazz and rock aspects but also incorporated many other styles, most notably Nigerian folk, Latin flavors, blues rock and funk. Despite the team of seven musicians playing a steady circuit scene with the likes of Return To Forever and Soft Machine after the self-titled debut in 1974, the album sold poorly but failed to dampen the spirits of this hard working band that crafted catchy tunes fortified with amazing progressive jazz-rock workouts. ZZEBRA headed back to Escape Studios in Kent, England to record a followup which would emerge with the title PANIC.

The band's indefatigable work ethic turned out to be too much for guitarist Terry Smith and in the middle of recording departed and was replaced by the 17-year old Steve Byrd. Likewise vocalist Alan Marshall replacing former vocalist Gus Yeadon who also played piano and guitar. Due to the lack of success of the debut, PANIC takes a noticeably more commercial approach with less adventurous and calmer compositions than its predecessor. While the title track begins the album with the expected jazz-rock with funk and African rhythms, starting with the cover song of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" the album takes a turn towards the mellower sounds that evoke a more funkier version of Weather Report, a stark contrast to the Santana driven rhythms of the debut. As luck would have it the band also recorded a few tracks with Jeff Beck.

While the keyboard workouts, guitar solos and driving funk bass are present especially on "Panic," "Karrola," "Tree" and "Put A Light On Me" the general atmosphere is more subdued and dreamy with lengthy passages devoted to intricate melodic developments that result in an airy fairy sort of jazzed up rock. Add the change of vocalist duties and PANIC often sounds like a completely different band than what appeared on the self-titled ZZEBRA debut. Likewise the diversity of the debut had disappeared as the band was trying to grasp a definitive sound of its own but i don't think they quite succeeded as the band simply traded one set of influences for another which leaves me preferring the incredible technical workouts of the debut over the more pop influenced funk rock styles of PANIC.

Overall PANIC is not a bad album at all but fails to really standout amongst the plethora of fusion albums that were emerging around the same time. Despite the ambitious live circuit the band failed to fully coalesce into something that truly stood out in the crowded halls of fusion bands of the era and like most prog bands of the day who assumed the technical infused styles that dominated the early 70s would last forever, ZZEBRA was yet another band that was swept away by the turning of the tides with the punk, new wave and glam rock scenes taking over the music scene. Despite the less engaging tracks on PANIC, much of the material here is quite beautifully designed and there are no bad tracks per se as all the instrumentalists have honed their chops and deliver stellar workouts, it's just that the tracks aren't quite as interesting as what appeared on the debut. The spontaneous passion had been replaced by a more calculated attempt to fit in.

Despite remaining a 70s obscurity, the interest in such artifacts from the past has been rediscovered and bands such as ZZEBRA are finding new life with their old recordings. Although the band folded after this release, there was plenty of material recorded intended for a third album but wouldn't see the light of day until the second coming of the prog revolution. The archival releases "Take It Or Leave It" (1999) and "Lost World" (2001) would see those tracks finding a release after years in the vault and the first two ZZEBRA albums including "Panic" would find a new remastered release as a two-fer in 2010 which is the best way to acquire the early albums because of the excellent remastering job as well as a number of bonus live tracks and alternative mixes.

3.5 rounded down

 Zzebra by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.13 | 20 ratings

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Zzebra
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The jazz-fusion scene may have had its roots in the 60s with Frank Zappa, Soft Machine, Miles Davis and others racing pellmell into the opposite stream of the spectrum until jazz and rock became a veritable alloy of musical sounds but once John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra made the style a worldwide phenomenon, it wasn't long before a wide range of acts were exploding onto the scene with more complex compositions that were finding inspiration from the explosive progressive rock scene of the early 70s. The band ZZEBRA may not be famous even within jazz-fusion circles but this band found its way into the London scene with two seasoned members from other early 70s classics.

ZZEBRA consisted of guitarist Terry Smith and saxophonist Dave Quincy from the band If along with Lasisi Amao from Osibisa. Along for the ride were Gus Yeadon (vocals, piano, guitar) from The Love Affair and newbies John McCoy (bass) and Liam Genockey on drums. The band was a major powerhouse on the live circuit and played numerous gigs over a period during the mid-70s but only released two albums during its time together. The band released this self-titled debut in 1974 and followed up with "Panic" a year later. Two archival releases would also find the light of day around the turn of the millennium but it's this debut that holds the most interest in the blossoming years of progressive jazz-rock, Nigerian folk rhythms, funk, blues and even a touch of flamenco.

What's really cool about this siZZling debut that requires two ZZ's in ZZEBRA is that the 8 tracks that comprise this album are all completely different and showcases different aspects of the excellent musicians involved in this project. Of the many influences that come into play, the album starts off with the hybrid track "Cobra Woman" which immediately gives a vibe of Santana but sounds more like the African version, particularly Nigeria's highlife scene which also found prominence in the 70s due to Fela Kuti and in this case, Loughty Amao's African connections. However just when you think it's just all funk, African music and touches of progressive jazz-rock, Tommy Eyre delivers a mean flute solo which evokes a sense of Jethro Tull. The melodies are quite catchy as jazz-rock should be.

"Mr J" evokes an O'Jays bass line (think "For The Love Of Money") but also adds a much funkier Motown sort of guitar part including a sizzling solo. "Mah Jang" takes things into prog folk with the flute but also delivers a sizzling mix of brass attacks but evolves the rock aspects and the first tune to showcase the excellent guitar playing abilities of Terry Smith who had channeled his proper John McLaughlin soloing abilities however he doesn't steel the show and allows a mix of sax and flute accompaniments to grace the jazzy chord progressions which at times sound like pure jazz with a funk bass. "Ife" is perhaps the most African sounding of the album with not only Nigerian rhythms but ethnic folk melodies as well. "Spanish Fly" takes a completely different approach as it mixes English folk flute with jazzy chord progressions and Middle Eastern scales and a touch of flamenco percussion. One of the highlights on the album for sure.

"Amuso Fi" is yet another Nigerian influenced tune although the dominating saxophone reminds me of Edgar Winter's White Trash band in its sensual addicting qualities. The track constructs not only an interesting polyrhythm but the main sax melody has a weird "skip a beat" sort of approach which makes this a tad weird despite being really accessible. The only true throwaway track on this album is the lackluster "Rainbow Train." Despite sounding like a pride parade theme sung by the Village People, the track actually sounds a lot like the Allman Brothers at certain times and a Motown hit at others. Not a horrible track, just not up to the standards of the album's others. "Hungry Horse" is another fave with a jittery progressive rock time signature parade of off-kilter rhythms and another that delivers the dexterity of Smith's guitar virtuosity however this track also finds all the musicians at their peak as this is the highlight of the album with killer drums, frenetic sax attacks and overall coolness.

Some may think this ZZEBRA album is too unfocused for its own good but personally that's what i love about it. Yeah, the band didn't totally nail its own sound on this debut but when all these tracks are performed so stunningly well with such catchy melodies it must makes me not care. This is jazz-rock with progressive touches at its best. The tracks are utterly infectious and diverse enough to keep my attention throughout the entire playing time. No instrument steals the show and all are allowed to strut their swag at key moments. The compositions are professionally constructed and almost everything on this album hits me in the right way. True it sounds a bit like an African version of Santana at times especially during the stellar drum solos but that is not a bad thing. The following album is much mellower almost in a Weather Report tamped downness, so if you want an nice energetic slice of jazz-rock passion then this debut ZZEBRA album won't disappoint. Not sure why this is generally rated so low but i'm lovin' the heck outa this one.

 Lost World by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.53 | 6 ratings

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Lost World
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

2 stars Ah well, while I am at it, mainly because I mentioned Zzebra in relation of IF before. Also because there is not a single rating to this piece, yet. But that's hardly a surprise.

When legendary British Jazz-Rock band IF "expired" some former members resurrected the spirit by forming Zzebra that included parts of former Osibisa crew. After a somewhat promising start, this band, too suffered from changes in line-up and direction. This, their fourth - last - album features Dave Quincy (saxes) as the last remaining IF member and the music no longer bears much semblance to that band.

The material here sounds more like Osibisa doing their filler tunes and calling it even Prog- Related (as far as the music is concerned) would require a stretch of imagination. Contrary to the odd, nice solo, this work as a whole lacks inspiration. Santana-like rhythms, Soul, African, R&B, Jazz are thrown in in no particular harmony and those styles performed at the bottom end of their respective genres and poorly (not) blended together.

Some live tunes are added to the work and they lift the game however slightly, but really, this album is rather poor and best to be avoided. 2.5 at the most.

 Panic by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.56 | 24 ratings

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Panic
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars ZZebra play a varied blend of progressive rock, jazz, African rhythms and fusion, performed by an outstanding line-up of musicians. The intensity and passion with which the band plays is inspiring, and while I may not totally love every bit of it, generally the music is extremely high quality, so I hope this review might encourage some others to look into tracking a copy down. I find this album far superior to the debut album, which has a much higher profile and seems to be considered the better of the two.

I was lucky enough to come across this album in a dusty and dirty crate at a garage sale, in amongst a whole lot of dross records! The cover was not in the best condition, but the record itself played pretty well. Strange enough, my copy of this album comes with the illustration of the animals that was from a later LP cover. Not sure what the story is there!

The album has an equal amount of instrumental and vocal tracks, so there's a good chance many listeners would find something to interest them. There's Santana-like rockers, long jazz workouts and funk/soul jams. Some more forgiving mid-period Soft Machine fans would probably find much to enjoy here. There's also a somewhat murky, dirty mix in the production that gives the album that bit of extra grit.

Listen to that furious drumming, dirty sax, pumping bass and energized electric piano playing on the lead title track! It's got a really relentless kick to it. Nice shimmering synths in the middle, good soulful vocals, too. Great way to set the tone of the album!

Next up is a wonderful and highly inventive instrumental interpretation of `You've Lost That Loving Feeling', quite unrecognizable in some parts! Wonderful sax playing that doesn't sound schmaltzy at all, and some beautiful lead guitar work that alternates between fuzzy electric stabs and quick, tasteful melodic runs. Then there's the jammy ending where the track falls away into spectral synths, commanding bass, jazzy drumming, and glistening electric piano! Outstanding!

A hard edged noisy and furious jazz-funk blowout, the instrumental `Karrola' reminds me a little of Soft Machine with the murky production, wild electric piano and fluid bass. The very brief Afro-beat moments don't intrude at all! Another killer track.

`Liamo' slows the pace down for a more atmospheric jazz-funk piece. Terrific sax playing on this one, with the bass mixed up nice and prominent. There's almost chanted vocals, but I can't quite make out what they're saying! This track is a real exercise in restraint, and all of the musicians compliment eachother perfectly.

Side two opens with a short unsettling instrumental called `Death By Drowning'. Dream-like electric piano, harsh electronic effects, dingy bass, with a lonely sax gently wailing away. Strangely hypnotic, it then segues into `Tree', a superb funky track that has great sax playing, charming vocals and sleek synths. But the real treat is an absolute knockout keyboard solo in the middle! Pretty sure it's a minimoog, it goes absolutely ballistic, with the rapid-fire drumming and pumping bass tearing the track completely apart! The mixing seems to pump these three right up!

`Put A Light On Me', a playful Santana band styled rocking funk stomper, has commanding and forceful vocals with some very groovy bass playing. Tight and concise, there's not much room on this one for extended flashy solos, and it's probably the most vocal-prominent track on the album, with a very catchy chorus.

The album ends with a rapid-fire `Return To Forever' kicking instrumental blow-out `La Si Si-La So So', roaring sax, driving electric piano, and a killer snarly electric guitar solo that absolutely loses the plot! Every band members gives each other space to shine on this one, and it ends the album on a very upbeat and exciting manner, really takes it out with a bang.

The album truly belongs to keyboard player Tommy Eyre, who's keyboard sound is a very dominant factor on this recording. He's all over the place, with a number of long noisy solos, tasteful playing and endless variety throughout the entire album.

Special mention must go to young self-taught 17 year old guitarist Steve Byrd, who is exceptional throughout his few standout moments. Apparently Byrd was brought into the band well after recording of this album had begun, so it's a shame he's not used more often. Especially listen to his lovely acoustic solo on the second track!

Many may consider the wide variety of styles and ideas as being unfocused and not knowing what direction to head in, and the vocals are certainly a little dated. I'm sure some listeners will be turned off by them, I found them usually very honest. But overall this is a very thrilling and eclectic album full of outstanding musicianship and colourful players. `Panic' was a real favourite of mine a few years back, I played it all the time! Now I'm happy to spread the word to other listeners, so please don't hesitate to snap it up if you're lucky enough to come across a copy!

 Zzebra by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.13 | 20 ratings

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Zzebra
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars A UK-based Jazz/Folk/Blues-Rock outfit,Zzebra were formed around 1973 by guitarist Terry Smith and sax player Dave Quincey,both coming from Jazz-Rockers If and flutist/sax player Loughty Amao (ex-Osibisa),along with Gus Yeadon on keyboards/piano,drummer Liam Genockey and bassist John McCoy.Their self-titled debut was released originally on Polydor in 1974.

The sextet decided to throw in this album all possible Jazz-related styles around,from If-related Jazz-Rock to Blues-Rock to Funk with a bit of African Folk and strong use of percussion.Thus,the album ended up to be really inconsistent,far from tight and fairly commercial at some point.Tracks like ''Man Jong'',''Hungry horse'' or ''Spanish fly'' show the band delivering really cool Jazz-Rock with plenty of saxes,almost fiery guitars at moments,decent piano lines and a furious strong rhythm section,indicating the real talent of Zzebra's members.The rest of the album though doesn't follow the same path.The first two cuts are mediocre Funk/Blues numbers with little to offer,''Ife'' is pure African Folk music only interesting for fans of the style,''Amuso Fi'' is an average Brass Rock track,while ''Rainbow train'' is a bit better,a somewhat Heavy/Jazz-Rock cut with a commercial sound but decent instrumental parts.However the vocals on the whole release are below average and do not help at all.

A bit of a dissapointment actually.I was expecting far more from this band and release but ''Zzebra'' would be an interesting release only to Jazz-Rock lovers,who want to listen to another about 20 minutes of nice Jazz-Rock and dont mind if the rest of the album is far from the style...2.5 stars.

 Take It Or Leave It by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.31 | 7 ratings

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Take It Or Leave It
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Strangely enough, Zzebra never released their third album, recorded in late 75, and it's never mentioned why either. The group seemed to finally reach stability with an unchanged line-up. Anyway, apparently it received its first legit issue at the same time the German label Disconforme reissued the other two historic albums.

This album is the logical continuity of Panic, with its ever softer jazz tracks, and the vocals, courtesy of Alan Marshall are not helping, sending Zzebra more mainstream jazz-funk. Most of what would've been the album's first side is relatively boring, soft, sometimes veering at sometimes at crooner tunes out of which the African themed Bai La Jo is probably the most remarkable. The second part of the album is a bit more alive with more upbeat tunes. The slow starting Word Trips might have been a highlight, especially in the middle section, but the chorus gives it some MOR feel and the title track bears some ZZ Top riff over a light funk jazz. The hilariously titled Evacuate My Sack fails to enthuse (probably exhaust problems > always delicate in the sack) and the closing society sounds like Chris Farlowe is at the mike.

Not as good as the debut or Panic, this third (and now finally released) album remain good, but hardly essential, this is more for completists if you are into, Zzebra. This album also came out with a different cover and some bonus live tracks, but it doesn't make it anymore essential.

 Zzebra by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.13 | 20 ratings

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Zzebra
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Zzebra's debut album is a most enjoyable jazzy ethnic brass rock enveloped in a sublime night/day window artwork, released late 74. The sextet present up to three brass player in its line-up, namely Quincy, Yeadon and Amao but the first two also play keyboards, while the third adds all of those delightful percussions. Interestingly enough the three brass players are the main songwriters as well and in the decreasing order I placed them. Completed by other If man Smith on guirtars and the Gaelic rhythm section of Genocky and McCoy, the group saw Gus Yeadon leave more or less at the end of the album's recording, and his buddy Tommy Eyre came in a did the remaining parts still missing, but he ended up staying.

Starting on the delightful Cobra Women, a last beat heating up periodically to fit the more nervous/dramatic passages, this track being with Spanish Fly one of the album's highligths. The following two tracks Mr J and Mah Jong are definitely more upbeat, both electric piano-driven and can easily be confused, for I find numerous sonic similarities between them. Ifé is a very sweet- African starting track that gives much flavour to this group. The afore-mentioned Spanish Fly has a dramatic tinge to it, and although Terry Smith is no Carlos Santana, he doesn't ridicule himself either. Amuso Fi starts softly to disappear in a percussion solo (or duet with Genocki), before re-appearing amidst plenty of piano and the overlong repetitive outro. Rainbow Song is easily the weak link of the album, with a pure brassy RnR beat and no invention or even catchy hooks for itself. Hungry Horse however more than makes up for it with incredible splash of virtuosi musical interplay, including a bunch of percussion breaks. It's just a bit too long in its closing section with the repetition of the chorus.

While maybe not as exciting as Cymande or Mandrill's debut album, Zzebra's first album still remains very much worth hearing and even owning. If you're into much brass instruments in your music, Zzebra is right up your alley.

 Panic by ZZEBRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.56 | 24 ratings

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Panic
Zzebra Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Second album from Zzebra being now a septet, having hired a full-time vocalist Alan Marshall, despite having four instrumentals on the present album. Musically the group sounds more or less the same than on the debut album, as Marshall doesn't sound that different to Yeadon. As Yeadon had done (pun not intended, but left in the text), guitarist Terry Smith will leave in the course of the album's recording. This recording occurred in summer 75 and the album received a all black artwork with the silver group lodo and red album title, and most tracks seem to melt into one another, or the transition is particularly smooth.

Right from the brassy opening title track, right through the gentle but slowly crescendoing Lost That Loving Feeling (a Spector cover, transformed into an instrumental), the album seems tamer than its predecessor, but the wild upbeat Karela (with its African scats) changes things a little, but the Liamo goes back to the slower tempos, while the song title sounds like chants, while the musicians show perfect capacities in listening to what the others are doing. The only Eyre-penned track Death By Drowning is a gloomy track where his electric piano takes the front row, but the peak of the album is coming in the form of Tree, which starts out smoothly enough, but going through a series of change and even peaking once or twice, before the vocals take over. Light on Me sounds a bit as if Chris Farlowe and joined the group. The second blast in this album is the outstanding closing La-Si-Si, a red hot fusion track where the group now decides tu let it rip and the musician can let loose their respective virtuosity.

In some ways, Panic is a better album than the debut, but the surprise is gone. Overall the number of instrumentals obviously leaves more space for the musicians to express themselves and interplay between each other. If you're looking for hysteric singer and guitar histrionics, you'd better move away, Zzebra is not such an animal, but if you're looking for tight funky brass rock and plenty of arrangements, please step up to the plate... but you'd better start with the debut.

Thanks to sean trane for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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