Desperado – Zia
Sadly, this is one that, as far as I can tell, never made it onto CD or the into digital world, so you’re going to have to dust off your turntable if you want to hear it (it is so rare, it’s not even on Youtube). And more’s the pity as this is an excellent cover of The Eagles track from 1973.
Zia were fronted by Cindy Alter after she had left Clout. The band also featured Ashley Brokensha (who would be in Ballyhoo) along with Abraham Sibiya, Bheki Gumbi and Graham Clifford who would all be in Wozani (a band formed by Hotline’s George van Dyk). They released 3 albums, the second of which was ‘Kant’Unjani’ and this stripped down version of the song closes the album.
Zia’s version starts in a similar vein to The Eagles’ one, the differences being that The Eagles’ version starts off being piano led and features the gruff vocals of Don Henley while Zia use a gently plucked guitar and has Cindy belting out the lyrics with her rock, bordering on operatic soprano vocals. However, as The Eagles’ version progresses, it builds up, adding a growing orchestral sound. Zia, on the other hand, keep the track in stripped down mode and let it be a vehicle for showcasing Cindy’s voice.
The Eagles will leave you lifted and buoyant with their version while Zia leave you in a far more contemplative mood. There is space to breathe in this version, space to think and space to feel. I would be hard pressed to rate one version over the other as, apart from the fact that fanatical Eagles fans would swoop down on me and attack if I dared to say Zia’s version was better, the two acts take such ultimately different approaches to the song. So I will say that both versions are great, it will just depend on your mood at the time whether you want to listen to Don’s version of Cindy’s.
Were to find it:
Vinyl: Kant’Unjani – Zia (1987), Gallo, HUL40143