Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Did you ever wonder if there was music made from 30 or 40 years ago that was so unbelievable but for whatever reason, it was never heard by the masses? Well, you are in luck because Watch Out by Wells Fargo fits that bill. They aren’t from a place you would probably consider. These cats hailed from Rhodesia. In what is now Zimbabwe, young people created a rock and roll counterculture that drew inspiration from hippie ideals and the sounds of Hendrix and Deep Purple.
The kids in the scene called their music “heavy,” because they could feel its impact. The country was one of the last bastions of colonialism in Africa, and heavy rockers defied segregation laws and secret police to make a stand for democratic change. Wells Fargo was at the forefront of this scene. This is the first time their music has been issued outside of Zimbabwe. Their music is 33% funk, 33% psychedelia, 34% reggae, and 100% awesome.
The title track of this album, Watch Out, was the anthem of the counterculture. “Watch out, the big storm is coming, there’s thunder and lightning, you better hold on.” These guys were singing out against oppression and the above lines warned about the beginning of a revolution. I would imagine these guys faced punishment for writing and recording this, but they did it anyway. That’s pretty heavy, indeed. If you told me this song was on a Peter Tosh album, I would believe it. It has that perfect mix of reggae and rock and roll.
Coming Home, the opening track on this album, reminds me of early Funkadelic using bass, rhythm guitar, and drums to create the funkiest of grooves.They also incorporate some seriously spacey psychedelic guitar solos that are ouf of this world. This song also seems to be about revolution and reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. These guys are able to mix in some very serious topics into their music, but still keep the songs entertaining.
If you can get your hands on this, you should buy it. If you love early funk like The Meters and Funkadelic, it is a must have. Either the vinyl or CD comes with a 72 page booklet that chronicles the development of the heavy rock scene and Wells Fargo’s contributions. There is even interviews with the surviving band members.