From the Record Bin: Jewish Folk from the Fabulous 60s



4 comments
Randall Stephens

Get out the hand sanitizer. It’s time to rummage through the dusty, moldy, old albums at your local Salvation Army, book store/cat sanctuary, or record shop. When I'm thumbing through LPs by Tijuana Brass, Ray Conniff, Henry Mancini, The Commodores, and Captain & Tennille, I’ll spot the occasional religious album. It might be the bicentennial/patriot/gospel mishmash of the Heritage Singers, hymns rendered for pipe organ lovers who were born before 1920, or the Jesus anthems of the Imperials. Once in a great while, I’ll come across a real gem.

I picked up a copy of the Rabbis' Sons' 1967 folk romp at a used bookstore in Bennington, Vermont. I know next to nothing about beatnik-lite Jewish folk music. So, I’ll let the liner notes and the music itself do the talking/singing. (The notes below remind me of the wordy, awkward prose that fills a typical college yearbook. It doesn't quite capture the beauty of the music.):

With the emergence of the state of Israel, folk songs became the natural vehicle of expression for the renascent spirit of a people bursting with a longing for freedom and national independence. Songs of faith and thanksgiving were mingled with exultant tones of Jewish heroism to produce a colorful array of melodies that we now know as Israeli folk music.

With this album, however, a new creation in Jewish music makes its debut. It offers an harmomous blend of Jewish liturgical texts with traditional melodic warmth, uniquely set to a modern folk beat--by The Rabbis' Sons. On this LP recording, eleven songs are presented; nine were composed by Baruch Chait, one by Mark Davidowitz, and the last is a stirring revival of a somewhat forgotten Yiddish folk song.

[Listen to my favorite track: "Hu Elokeinu (Sabbath Prayer)"]

Two guitars and a bass fiddle provide the fundamental instrumention for this complement of musical innovations. The penetrating resonance of a steel guitar is skilfully produced by David Nulman, who assisted in the guitar arrangements. Mickey Lane, as master of the bass fiddle, carries the rhythm with striking artistry.

4 comments:

Art at: April 10, 2010 at 3:19 AM said...

"beatnik-lite Jewish folk music"... Outstanding.

Judith at: April 10, 2010 at 2:38 PM said...

Wonderful post.

Check out Josh Kun's project on Jewish records at: http://trailofourvinylbook.blogspot.com/

and the Reboot Stereophonic label: http://www.rebootstereophonic.com/

Randall at: April 10, 2010 at 3:50 PM said...

Judith: Thanks for posting the link. Have enjoyed listening to some of the tracks on that site.

price per head at: June 7, 2012 at 12:40 PM said...

Hilariously cool. I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you my friend.

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