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Merry Chanukah and Happy Jew Year!

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Guest Post From DZ

messengers_cover.jpg Platina_cover.jpg mordechai_ben_david.jpg

The Soul Messengers : Side A, track 4 and Side B, Track 3
details from the album haven’t been translated as far as we know…
Private Pressing (1978)

The Platina : Africa
taken from the album “The Girl With The Flaxen Hair” on MIO (2003, originally 1976)

Mordechai Ben David : SOUL
taken from the album “SOUL” on Aderet (1977)

Happy Chanukah to all you fellow Jews out there. This is DZ, your semitic guest blogger. Captain P has been bugging me to do an Israeli music post for a minute now, and the 7th night of Chanukah seems to be as good a time as any (yall’s oil better still be burning for another miraculous night). Now it’s no secret that my peoples are blessed when it comes to comic talent, but when combined with music the results have been, well, unmiraculous (think Adam Sandler’s Hanukah Song and the entire genre of Klezmer). But I’m here to let you know that there does exist some ridiculously ill funk and jazzish artistry born in the motherland of Israel.

The first two mp3’s up belong to Soul Messengers. I first heard some tracks from another LP of theirs on a Jewish audioblog called Hippocampus. I then came across this record on Ebay and dropped a stupid amount of loot on it during the tense final moments of a cutthroat bidding war. And don’t ask me how much. That is so Jewish of you. Anyway, it was worth it and you should feel blessed to be able to download not one, but two tracks off this ’78 rare-as-shit privately pressed LP for free. This is a group of Black Hebrews or Black Israelites (I’m not sure which is the preferred term) who lived and I believe still live in a commune in Jerusalem. It is still unclear to me if they consider themselves Jewish or if they emigrated to the Holy Land for other reasons. Either way, this isn’t just American funk/soul/disco transplanted to Israel. All these songs are sung in Hebrew, and seeing as Hebrew was actually the first language I learned, I have to say I was taken aback. Never have I heard the language infused musically with so much soul and funkiness. The first song is what good disco-funk is all about. Dope build-up, party horns, and the odd-but-ill reference to Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”. The second song is a fast-paced joint also laced with some dope horns and funky guitar work. The Captain is far better at vivid, on-point descriptions of any given song than I am, so that’s as far as I go. Just listen.

The 3rd mp3 belongs to a jazz-fusion group called Platina. This album, titled “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” was recorded in 1976 and re-released on CD by a small Israeli label called Mio Records. Good thing, too, because I don’t know how else I would’ve gotten my hands on a copy of this. I showed it a few weeks ago to my uncle visiting from Israel (shout-out to Rafi Adar) and he smiled and said he knew everyone on the cover personally. Nobody from this group went on to do anything particularly stunning, unless you decide to count the one member who went on tour in the states with Manhattan Transfer (dollar-bin diggers should be all too familiar with that name). Anyway, the 14 minute joint here is called Africa. Historical note here: When the U.N. considered potential locations for the state of Israel pre-1948, one area considered was Uganda. Imagine how different the world would be had that vision been realized. Anyway, you might expect something blatantly offensive from any song called Africa that was produced by a group of exclusively non-Africans, but actually this is pretty damn good. Again, I forgo the description in favor of you just listening.

The last song by Mordechai Ben David is from the Captain’s cassette tape collection (thus the not so great audio quality). Don’t expect other records from this cat to be nearly as funky, he’s definitely better known for his not so unique brand of Klezmer smegma.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the songs. If you have a minute, check my boy’s travelblog from Israel: Dakotamodamowf. Have a happy new year and 7th night of Chanukah. Peace in the middle east.