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      by Ben Bresky
      Poetry submissions, concert announcements, Israeli and Jewish music news, interviews and new CD reviews.
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      The Israel Beat blog is a place for poetry submission, concert announcemnets, upcoming shows and musings on Jewish music. The Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast brings you live in-studio performances with up and coming Israeli musicians as well as interviews with the stars of the Jewish music world. Plus your music requests and the free CD give-away air live on the show. Past interviews have included Matisyahu, Avraham Fried, and Miri Ben-Ari. The Beat with Ben Bresky broadcasts live every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Israel time on Arutz Sheva - Israel National Radio. For more info email bbresky@israelnationalradio.com.

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      Elul 27, 5768, 9/27/2008

      Mogwai - My Father My King - Avinu Malkeinu

      20 minutes of droning, trance-inducing guitar distortion should put you in the Rosh HaShanah spirit. Special thanks to the Teruah Jewish music blog for reminding me about My Father My King by Mogwai. I originally found this song back in the olden days when Napster was still around and popular. I used to type in key words like "israel" or "jewish" and one day I found something called Jewish Hymn, which is officially entitled My Father My King. It is Mogwai's version of Avinu Malkeinu and is is about 20 minutes long. Avinu Malkeinu actually translates at Our Father Our King.

      Mogwai is a band from Scotland. None of the members are Jewish. You can purchase a CD single / EP from iTunes. I made a new iTunes iMix with it and other electric guitar based punk-esque sounding songs.


      Here are some reviews of it:

      "The encore is a hymn they like to call "The Jewish Song," taught to the band by famed hip-hop producer Arthur Baker. A chiming chord progression gets faster and louder - only to drop away and build back up, over and over, for twenty minutes. Braithwaite pulls up the hood of his parka in a futile effort to protect his eardrums. (He doesn't follow his own advice on earplugs.) Finally, the melody disappears underneath an ocean of distortion, as Mogwai spin random knobs on their instruments. They walk offstage, leaving the road crew to turn off the amps. When they finally do, everyone's ears are ringing and there's a loud silence, a silence filled with a threat that didn't exist before."
      Rolling Stone 875 - Aug. 16, 2001

      "So Mogwai stops playing and they leave the stage. Then they come back on after a few minutes to play an encore. The entire encore was made up of one song called 'My Father My King', a reworking of a traditional Jewish hymn that Mogwai recently released as a single on Matador Records. This song made the entire trip worthwhile. I can’t even tell you how incredible it was. They take one single progression and build it up into one of the most brilliant pieces of live music I have ever heard. The climax of the encore was cut off by every single string being pulled from every single instrument, all instruments turned up to 11, guitars hung on top of racks, and feedback eating away at the audiences eardrums. While Stuart (the guy who stands where the singer would stand if Mogwai had a singer) sang something over and over. Very moving, and the song turned my impression of the evening around a full 180 degrees. Well done Mogwai, you are true rock and rollers.”
      Steve Kowalski
      Interference Magazine
      Volume 2 – Issue 6

      "This one track, 21 minute long EP was recorded in London in August 2001 and released two months later.It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Steve Albini and is based on a traditional Jewish Hymn which was introduced to the band by Arthur Baker."
      Mogwai Official web site

      Also on the Teruah blog there is a version of Avinu Malkeinu by the band Phish, which does have some Jewish members. I did an interview on Teruah which you can find here. I am sure there are more interesting versions of the song. Maybe I'm make a mix to play on my next show. If anyone knows of any, or has suggestions or Rosh HaShanah music, email me or leave a talkback.

      Elul 24, 5768, 9/24/2008

      Today my little Sarah we go to war...

      I have always been fascinated by the song Alei Barikadot by Michael Ashbel, which was an anthem for the Irgun  underground in the 1940s in Israel. My friend Eitan called me the other day and we were chatting about current events. He told me that last year he attended the funeral of Sarah Livni. And then he started singing Alei Barikadot. The first line of the song is "today my little Sarah, I shall go to war..." I never knew this was referring to a specific person.

      The following is a brief bio of Sarah Livni from this site

      Sarah Livni was a member of the Irgun, a pre-state paramilitary organization, and was arrested by the British and imprisoned in Bethlehem. Sarah Livni was known as 'Little Sarah' during her Irgun days, and the famous song 'Alei Barikadot' begins with these words which was written by Michael Ashbel, another member of the Irgun. Sarah married Eitan, a fellow Irgun member, one day after Israel declared independence. The two were the first to be married in the modern state of Israel.

      The following is a bio of Michael Ashbel from this site:

      Born in Vilna, Lithuania, at an early age he joined Betar and later joined the Irgun in Poland. After the German invasion of Poland, he fled to Russia and joined the Free Polish Forces and reached Iraq. From there he made his way to Eretz Israel and joined the Irgun. Soon after, he joined the Fighting Force and took part in numerous operations, such as: the blowing-up of the British Intelligence offices in Jaffa, the attack on the military airfield in Lydda etc.

      On March 6, 1946, he took part in the attack on the Sarafand army camp, and was injured in the exchange of fire, together with his friend, Yosef Simchon. They were loaded into a car, which set out for Tel Aviv in order to take them to hospital, but encountered a British roadblock on the way and were arrested. Two months later Ashbel and Simchon were placed on trial before a military tribunal and sentenced to death (June 13, 1946). However, the kidnapping of British officers by the Irgun forced the British High Commissioner to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. Ashbel was wounded by British gunfire during the breakout of Acre jail and died of his injuries several hours later.

      The lyrics of Alei Barikadot are from this site.

      Raise Up the Barricades
      by M. Ashbel

      Today my little Sarah
      We'll part as I go to war
      To establish the state
      On both sides of the Jordan
      Harden your heart
      And tighten your belt
      Embrace me, take the Sten
      And join me in the ranks
      Raise up the barricades we shall meet
      Do not cry For such is my fate Wipe away your tears

      Raise up the barricades we bring freedom with blood and fire.
      Rifle to rifle, barrel to barrel
      Bullet to bullet we shall fire
      Raise up the barricades we shall meet
      And if on the gallows
      I shall give my life for the nation
      Do not cry
      For such is my fate
      Wipe away your tears
      Hold the Sten close to your heart
      And choose for yourself another
      From the men of my squad

      I found the song on a couple albums, Songs of the Underground, Songs of the Etzel and Lechi and Betar Songs. But I don't like the renditions of it. Its a kind of a dated style with lots of instrumentation and a chorus. Not the way I imagined an underground anthem.

      You can listen here and here and also on my latest radio show here.

      There is a cool album called Songs of Jabotinsky which has more modern versions of some 1940's songs, as peformed by Shlomo Artzi and other Israeli pop singers in the early 1970s. 

      Elul 11, 5768, 9/11/2008

      CD Review: Chaim Israel - The ultimate crossover artist

      Chaim Israel is, in my opinion, the ultimate crossover artist. About half of his new album Someone to Rely On is smooth, light, slow songs based on Psalms and other religious sources. I could see each one being played on a contemporary pop station. The other tracks on the album are fast paced and exciting with a Mediterranean beat.

      Chaim Israel has previously released similar sounding albums as well as albums of only Mizrachi and Yemenite music. On this new one he also has that typical twangy oud, Middle Eastern sounding horns and other Mizrachi elements. Some tracks are in the Mizrachi style alone while others mix that sound with an electronic dance beat. The title track incorporates a klezmer sounding clarinet and has an "oy yoi yoi" chorus laid over a dance beat, but the breakdown in the middle is Mizrachi sounding. I played it on my show this week. Another track has a chant of "na nach nachman me uman". 

      I love that combination of styles. It reminds me a little of a hit from 2004 by Subliminal's TACT All Stars featuring HaTzel (The Shadow) called At Oti Shofetet which mixes Mizrachi singing and oud with rapped verses, hip-hop record scratches and a reggae chorus. 

      Another Chaim Israel favorite of mine is Rak Elokim from his album Words of Prayer. He also has a couple Yiddish songs on other albums. 

      The relatively young singer is a religious Israeli of Mizrachi / Sephardic background. He is a best seller at Gal Paz and other religious music stores in Israel. In the past couple months he has also released a two disc set of live tracks.

      Elul 9, 5768, 9/9/2008

      Non-Jewish musicians who love Israel - Sabaton, iTunes

      Here is an email I received about Sabaton, who recently performed here in Israel and had a nice article about them in the Jerusalem Post.

      Topic: Heavy metal 'hasbara'

      Hi Ben, Have you ever played this music on The Beat (I ask rhetorically)? Being 64 years old, it's not my type of music but when I read the lyrics, I was sold. If you do play this song, however, I would advise first reading the lyrics to the listening audience (in your best poet-reading voice). ;-) I also just came across Sabaton's "In The Name of God" at The lyrics are embedded in the video itself. Hmmm, I wonder if Walter would feed you chocolate for these two songs. Bet you he would! You might even turn him into a heavy-metal fan!

      Regards, Gary (Gershon)
      Calgary, Alberta, Canada

      Well, Gershon, I also just discovered Sabaton, and enjoyed their song Counterstrike which praises Israel's victory in the Six Day War. Here is one of the several videos for it (another one has lyrics). I'm actually disappointed that I never heard of them before because I was proud of the fact that I knew every obscure pro-Jewish song by non-Jewish artists. And now it seems one has slipped by my radar. So here is my new Israel National Radio iTunes iMix in which I tracked down as many as I could. The current iMix includes both non-Jewish musicians, musicians of Jewish heritage in the mainstream world, and Israeli musicians. I am in the process of making several iMixs. If you can think of any more or have any iTunes suggestion, let me know.

      Elul 5, 5768, 9/5/2008

      CD Review: Yeedle - Lev Echad - Holocaust, MBD and more

      I used to do a radio show with Tzvi Turner who turned me on to a lot of hasidic pop. Because Tzvi lived in New York, he personally knew a lot of the top performers such as Shloime Dachs, Mendy Wald and Yosi Piamenta. I thought for sure a guy named Yeedle could never be cool. But as soon as Tzvi played the first couple seconds of Yeedle IV, I liked it. It was like a mix of acoustic guitar and hasidic pop. Catchy and cool. You can listen Tzvi's show at http://jewishcommunityradio.org/

      Today I saw a bus in Jerusalem with a big ad for Yeedle's 5th album. It's enjoyable. Not too complicated. Very listenable. One track is a slow song in Yiddish. Most of the album is in the same upbeat, fast danceable, catchy style with a horn section, some sprinkles of electric guitar and some light electronic beats. But mostly the good old tried and true hasidic pop you know and love. The stuff pioneered by Yeedle's father, Modechai Ben David.

      Yeedle's grandfather, David Werdyger (also spelled Dovid) is a well known cantor and has released several popular records. Although I never heard of David Werdyger growing up, when I listened to one of his albums I recognized many of the melodies from synagogue and the Shabbat table. David has an interesting story of how he was saved in the Holocaust by a song. It can be read here: http://heichalhanegina.blogspot.com/2007/04/saved-in-holocaust-by-song.html

      One last comment on the new Yeedle album. The cover has this moving image thing. It's like a hologram or something. I thought it was so cool, I went around the radio station showing it to everyone (and interrupting the news anchors). But I can't figure out what exactly to call it. Is it a hologram? Or what? Whoever can give me the correct technical name of it wins a free CD. You can email me at bbresky@israelnationalradio.com.

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