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Articles Home » 1975 Articles » Zazu - 1975 Zazu
Zazu - 1975 Zazu

LABEL: Wooden Nickel
YEAR: 1975


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

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 seventies 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 as 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.

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#1 | Eric on March 04 2007 14:02:39
I had the oppurtunity to talk to Zazu drummer Mike Lehocky several years ago. Signed to Wooden Nickel, Zazu suffred the same fate as Styx with little or no promotion. They were from the Chicago area and performed with Styx at local High Schools and even opened for ZZ Top once. The band recorded-according to Lehocky- at least two albums worth of material and the tapes still exist. Sad to say one of the members and chief song writers has been in a mental institution (I am serious here) for several years which would probably hold up any chance of seeing this material released or a reissue in any form legally. The album has been getting attention from the progressive rock scene in the last few years which is nice and I hope more people seek it out.
#2 | chewie on March 07 2007 05:05:42
That's a real shame(about both man and music)... This is a very good under the radar band and this album has been one of my personal favorites ever since I first bought it off of ebay many years ago... Great American Prog! Grin
#3 | gdazegod on March 11 2007 04:20:00
Who is it exactly that is in the loony bin? Or is that just a touch too sensitive? Shock
#4 | Eric on March 11 2007 20:04:35
I can't remember George - honestly, and I have lost touch with Lehocky since...
#5 | Keith Nagy on May 23 2008 22:18:52
The 6 tracks are on a myspace page under Zazu. It's amazing some of the 70's bands listed under friends if you bounce from site to site.
#6 | rostoned on May 24 2008 10:40:18
#7 | Eric on August 10 2011 01:09:37
Reissued on CD and in print in a mini-LP sleeve from the 'Southside' label who I know nothing about.hmm!
#8 | super80boy on July 05 2013 16:28:35
Enjoyable progressive rock obscurity. I like 'Midnight Train' and it's pompy AOR arrangements. The epic 10+ minute song on the Tails side is all over the place, but keeps you guessing.
#9 | gdazegod on May 13 2014 12:23:24
Zazu - Country Eyes

YouTube Video:
#10 | gdazegod on May 13 2014 12:27:02
Zazu - Ittsanottasonatta, But It's Close

YouTube Video:
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