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ZAZU

Zazu

Crossover Prog


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Zazu Zazu album cover
3.05 | 18 ratings | 3 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Country Eyes (3:35)
2. Upon the Island Unisphere (6:38)
3. Just Friends (3:45)
4. Midnight Train (3:55)
5. Ittsanottasonatta, But It's Close (10:24)
6. Morning Rain (6:13)

Total time 34:30

Line-up / Musicians

- Randy Curlee / bass, vocals
- Mickey Lehocky / drums
- John Melnick / keyboards, vocals
- Paul Ripurero / guitars, vocals

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
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ZAZU Zazu ratings distribution


3.05
(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
22%
Good, but non-essential (50%)
50%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)
6%

ZAZU Zazu reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars This is an odd piece of crossover prog, from a band that only produced this single album, back in 1975. It's a blend of prog and southern rock. It's not as exceptional as The Dixie Dregs, but it is unusual. The primary sound is seventies southern rock, mostly like The Allman Brothers Band, but with some lighter, more harmonized southern as well.

It's the keyboardist, John Melnick, who provides the prog. Even in the most basic southern rock tunes, he inserts fills and riffs that to me sound like he is trying to emulate Keith Emerson.

The two best songs are Upon the Island Unisphere, which features some cool Hammond jamming, and the pure symphonic prog of Ittsanottasonatta, But It's Close. On the latter, the ELP/Nice imitation is boosted by drummer Mickey Lehocky's Carl Palmer-like use of cowbell and gongs.

Unfortunately, despite these two very good tracks, most of the songwriting is under par. So the best I can give them is two stars.

Review by GruvanDahlman
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog Team
3 stars One-hit wonders without a hit. That's what Zazu is. They may not have hit it off back in the 70's and neither do they now, the odd 40 years later. In some aspects it is a shame, by others sort of logical and I'll tell you why, in a moment or two.

Some bands are truly eclectic, making the material feel cohesive, though the songs really are from different worlds and soundscapes. Supertramp hits it off, just as Queen do. They managed to make albums merging any genre into one beautiful mixture of original songs. I could bet the shirt off my back that Zazu tried to do the same, just not hitting the mark enough. I suppose it has all to do with subtlety and timing, really, and they missed it. Just.

The album kicks off with "Country eyes". A song with strong country-rock feeling. Not bad at all. Quite catchy, even. It doesn't make it, though, through the progressive eye of the needle. Nor does "Just friends", "Midnight train" or "Morning rain". These songs are all quite radio friendly pop songs, all too familiar with the sound of the mid 70's. They aren't bad. They are actually quite good for being country-rock, just not all that progressive. Not really.

The only tracks worthy of being hailed as progressive are "The island of Unisphere" and "Ittsanottasonatta, But It's Close". Both of them are really well crafted pieces of prog, with good keyboards and strong vocals. "The island of Unisphere" even boasts the word "wizard", which I find very appealing. Both of these tracks are four star-songs, without a doubt. I find it a shame they didn't explore the genre further. They obviously had the talent and ability. The choice of walking in a no mans land, not prog and not really country-rock/pop either, made them hard to categorize. Well, maybe that's true.

The sound of the album is a mixture of ELP, Supertramp, Camel, Chicago and sometime Zappa-ish. It is easy on the ears, pleasant and not bad. The problem comes when defining the album and rating it. Since there are only two tracks of prog (the rest being, as I've said, country-rock and/or pop) I find it difficult to rate the album any higher than three stars. It is a split experience. The pop or the prog. I'll stick with the prog parts and that is quite enough, being that the two tracks are really good. Pick them out and you've got yourself really interesting pieces of prog. Not exceptional or revolutionary, just really brilliant stuff. I wish they would have filled the entire album with such goodies...

Review by Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars These Midwestern bands from the mid to late '70s seemed to always be of two minds: to please the audience who want nothing more than to rock and have a good time and radio programmers, while throwing in more complex ambitious material on the same album. Kansas and Styx being rather obvious examples, which didn't hurt their success any, although their earliest albums weren't exactly chart toppers (but after 1978 both groups pretty much gave up their more ambitious side for continuing chart success, sticking to a pomp rock/AOR direction). Zazu, from Chicago, recorded for Wooden Nickel, which is the same label Styx recorded their first four albums. Is it really like Styx? Maybe a little, occasional vocals that remind me of James Young, but this is a strange group. They sound like your typical mid '70s rock band but with a keyboardist, in this case John Milnick, who really wishes he was Keith Emerson, he seems really out of place. "Country Eyes" has a bit of that yacht rock feel to it, vocal harmonies that remind me of Orleans' "Dance With Me". "Upon the Island Unisphere" starts deceptively like another one of those mid '70s rock pieces then Milnick unexpectedly gives us some great proggy synth and organ passages. I keep thinking a full-on symphonic prog act would have suited him better. "Just Friends" is pretty straightforward, a song that sounded pretty obviously aimed for radio airplay. But for the most part, it's the 10 minute "Ittsanottasonotta, but It's Close" is the focal point of attention for progheads. This is where the band goes full-on prog, and naturally Milnick's time to shine, and for the most part, this is the only reason for progheads to own the album. I can see why it's the album's highlight, it's a wonderful piece and the highlight, but I really love the melodies and songs from the more straightforward material on this album. Prog purists would probably go for "Ittsanottasonotta", but that's it, but I found the rest of the album enjoyable, so I give it a four star rating.

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