Don’t let the all-American corporate name fool you. Wells Fargo were an edgy, guitar driven and politically dangerous band from 1970s Rhodesia — a group that defied the odds of political apartheid and took incredible risks in performing their music. While their sound draws parallels to the more melodic works of Jimi Hendrix and (especially) Black Merda, Wells Fargo cut a unique take on rock n roll; one of haunting melodies and relentless rhythm.
At the time this style of music was known simply and appropriately as ‘heavy rock’ in Africa, and the groups playing in this style adopted the stance of peace, love and unity, all the while being seen as a crucial force in the liberation movement of the continent. Influenced by the screenings of Woodstock, several rock festivals were organized in the 1970s, proving to be culturally progressive — progressive in that they were fully integrated during a time in which segregation was still an ugly reality. “Watch Out”, the group’s most famous recording, was adopted by the liberation movement as a theme song, prompting the menacing investigative arm of the Rhodesian government’s Special Branch to spy on both the group and their fans. It was this political heat that eventually resulted in the brutal beating of the band by police following a concert brought to an abrupt halt.
The Beatles proved to be a massive influence on the heavy rock scene, and Wells Fargo brilliantly adapt the ‘Norwegian Wood’ riff onto the the beautiful “Bwanawe”. Pressed on yellow/ green swirl vinyl, complete with a 12”X12” book of historical notes and rare photos, this release is essential for both fans of guitar driven psych and music of the people. words / d see