Home    Artist: Lizzy Mercier Descloux    Zulu Rock

Lizzy Mercier Descloux

Zulu Rock

Light In The Attic

LITA138LP

CD $10
LP Black $20
LP Color $29
  • Remastered from the original tapes
  • Essay by “Punk Professor” Vivien Goldman, interviewing key players
  • LP Includes download card for full album + 5 bonus tracks
  • CD includes full album plus 6 bonus tracks

Description

In the course of three albums, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, the rogue poet, artist, and singer-songwriter, traveled on a musical voyage from Manhattan (1979 debut Press Color) to The Bahamas (1981 follow-up Mambo Nassau) and apartheid South Africa (1984’s Zulu Rock) – a controversial cultural boycott in protest of the nation’s racially divided society.

In the course of three albums, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, the rogue poet, artist, and singer-songwriter, traveled on a musical voyage from Manhattan (1979 debut Press Color) to The Bahamas (1981 follow-up Mambo Nassau) and apartheid South Africa (1984’s Zulu Rock) – a controversial cultural boycott in protest of the nation’s racially divided society.

One place Descloux had never visited was the pop charts, but that changed when “Mais Où Sont Passées Les Gazelles? (Where Have The Gazelles Gone?)” – a reworking of a South African Shangaan disco hit – went all the way to the top spot in her native France, giving her a platform and a profile in the land she’d fled many years before. Recorded at Satbel Studios in Johannesburg, the album followed what her mentor Michel Esteban describes as “an extraordinary adventure” through eastern Africa following the footsteps of 19th century poet Rimbaud through Sudan, Ethiopia, the East Coast.

A socially conscious person, Descloux wanted to use her music to draw some attention to the situation in South Africa, even obliquely, but there were musical motivations too – she was tapping into a hot and little-heard dance music in the aforementioned Shangaan disco, Soweto jive and mbaqanga, the style Malcolm McLaren had mined for his mash-up hit “Duck Rock” a year before.

The music of South Africa seduced, subsumed, and molded Lizzy, who sounds surer and more swinging than ever before throughout Zulu Rock, but credit must also go to British producer Adam Kidron, then best known for his work with Scritti Politti, who joined Esteban and Descloux for the entire African journey. Lizzy and Adam’s was a battle of wills from the start, but his insistence on getting Lizzy to sing in a more conventional, tuneful way resulted in an emotional, ambitious, creative power struggle that delivered arguably her best vocals yet.

In Vivien Goldman’s new liner notes for this reissue, Kidron says: “My first impression of Lizzy was that she couldn’t sing but that she had that crazy Madonna, Neneh Cherry, Nina Hagen attitude thing going on and a magical way with words — a marketer’s gift for getting to the essence of a feeling or idea.” And for once, on this album, the marketing did itself.

Artist Bio

Mercier Descloux, with partner Michel Esteban, established the magazine Rock News and ran in the same circles as Patti Smith and Richard Hell. She became a genre defying artist and pioneer of worldbeat and avant garde rock, and supreme minimalist of the no wave genre in her own right.

In 1978, legendary label ZE Records released a mini-album by Mercier Descloux’s performance art duo, Rosa Yemen, and went on to release several of Lizzy’s solo albums. Her debut solo album, Press Color, consists of eight songs owing more to disco, funk, and film scores than punk rock, all recorded within a two week span. Lizzy’s second solo release, Mambo Nassau, evokes Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra” and “Born Under Punches,” riddled with off-kilter-time-keeping, flailing guitars, and lush basslines. Heavily influenced by African music, art rock, funk, and soul, Mercier Descloux’s music gained extreme popularity in her native France, the height of which came with her 1984 album, Zulu Rock. The album seems a more vivacious and enthralling harbinger for Paul Simon’s Graceland. ZE Records’ Michel Esteban recalls, “This South African music reminded us, as incredible as it may sound, of The Velvet Underground.”

Lizzy spent the next two decades living somewhat nomadically in Africa, France, New York, South America, and the West Indies, never ceasing her pursuit of the arts as she transitioned from music to painting and writing. Mercier Descloux was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and passed away the following year.

Preview Tracklist

  • 1 It's All My Imagination
  • 2 Abyssinia
  • 3 Mais Ou Sont Passees Les Gazelles?
  • 4 Dolby Sisters Saliva Brothers
  • 5 L'eclipse
  • 6 Les Dents De L'amour
  • 7 Wakwazulu Kwzizulu Rock
  • 8 Momo On My Mind
  • 9 I'm Liquor
  • 10 Queen Of Overdub Kisses
  • 11 Sun Jive
  • 12 All The Same
  • 13 Penelope (French Version)
  • 14 Confidente De La Nuit (French Version)
  • 15 Cri (French Version)
  • 16 Tous Pareils (French Version)
  • 17 Wakwazulu Kwzizulu Rock (French Version)