Zazu - Zazu

Zazu – Zazu

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Zazu have been compared to Styx by some but there is no comparison as their sounds were far removed despite being prog artists.

Written by: Dangerzone

ARTIST: Zazu
ALBUM: Zazu
LABEL: Wooden Nickel
SERIAL: BWL1-0791
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

LINEUP: Randy Curlee – vocals, bass * Paul Ripurero – guitar * Mickey Lehocky – drums * John Melnick – keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Country Eyes * 02 Upon The Island Unisphere * 03 Just Friends * 04 Midnight Train * 05 Ittsanottasonatta, But It’s Close * 06 Morning Rain

Background

Recognised only it appears because of sharing the same label as Styx in their early days, Zazu have been compared to Styx by some but there is no comparison as their sounds were far removed despite being prog artists. Zazu seemed inclined to divide their time between lengthy prog workouts and shorter AOR numbers, both styles paying off tremendously.

This was Zazu’s only vinyl outing and subsequently the band fell off the face of the earth, but evidently this remains of some value to fans of 70’s prog and rightfully so. Fans of manic keyboard solos will be delighted with some of the more furious excursions on the longer heavier tracks, and despite the dearth of information about Zazu, the talent was there for greater things.

The Songs

‘Country Eyes’ at three minutes should have been an easy mid 70’s radio staple, a breezy affair that borders on Poco and America ground, slightly heavier, but with a charming hook and harmonies that epitomize that period, evoking Pure Prairie League also.

Longer and prog heavy is ‘Upon The Island Unisphere’ with an abundance of keyboard soloing that is at odds with another brief radio track ‘Just Friends’ that I’m surprised isn’t heard on easy rock stations worldwide to this day. Brilliant early AOR here.

The upbeat ‘Midnight Train’ bellows forth with punchy guitar runs and a slight Southern tinge and it leaves me wondering how the band never made it as it’s right up there with Styx. The obvious tour de force of the album is the ten minute ‘Itsnottasonatta, But It’s Close’, a clear classic which will delight keyboard lovers, the track taking every possible tangent imaginable.

The musicianship is often uncontrolled here, thrashing around wildly with guitar and keyboard trade offs that are astoundingly heavy. The segment at the nine minute point will simply blow you away. Is that Keith Moon on drums? ‘Morning Rain’ builds up intensity as it progresses, when the keyboard solo hits it’s hard not to be taken aback such is the brazen fashion it introduces itself in.

In Summary

This one of the most powerful yet equally subtle prog albums of the era that I’ve heard, and though the bridge between commerciality and frenzied epic prog is large, it somehow makes sense. The raging climaxes on display are comparable to that of a live show and it’s a shame nothing more was heard from the band.

What might have occurred just a few years later could’ve transformed them surely into an act ranking with Kansas for mainstream appeal. A one off worth owning and it would be nice to know what happened to the band and the story behind it, as it seems like one worth telling.

Video

Ittsanottasonatta, But It’s Clos

Zazu - Ittsanottasonatta, But It's Close (Vinyl, Full Version)

Upon The Island Unisphere
Zazu - Upon The Island Unisphere (Rock) (1975)


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