Friday, April 11, 2008

Funky Black Hebrews

At Aquarium Drunkard I read:
Compiled by the Numero Group, and released next month, Soul Messages From Dimona is a soul collection combining the elements of jazz, funk, soul and gospel, all performed by American ex-pat artists who, from 1975-1981, made their home in Dimona, Israel. Musically taking elements from their native homes of Detroit and Chicago, these five groups embraced Black Hebrew Culture, and expressed its message in the funk. Dig.
MP3: Soul Messengers :: Burn Devil Burn
MP3: Tonistics :: Holding On
The Soul Messengers have already featured here, by the way, via Waxidermy. And Dimona came up a while back here, because of the South London black Reform Jewish family, the Levys, who want to emigrate to Israel, but whose Jewishness is considered suspect (possibly for racist reasons) by the Israeli authorities, mainly because Mrs Levy went to Dimona to have her fourth daughter, Shlomeet, there, being "a believer in natural birth and an Israeli Jewish friend in the UK had told her about a natural-birthing clinic in the town."

So, I followed the links, and read this:
Between 1975-1981, a group of American ex-pats took their native sounds of Detroit and Chicago and intermingled them with the messages of the Black Hebrew culture. The results are a heavenly mix of spiritual soul and jazz with an undercurrent of gospel psychedelia. Featuring the Soul Messengers, the Spirit Of Israel, Sons Of The Kingdom, and the Tonistics, Soul Messages From Dimona is the only living document of a thriving community at both the center and fringe of the world.
Passion of the Weiss takes up the story:

At any given time, there are approximately seven tapes in my father’s car. They are as follows: Billy Joel’s, Stormfront, Bob Marley’s Legend, and greatest hits collections from Inner Circle, The Pointer Sisters, Taylor Dayne and ZZ Top. The final tape is a compilation of Israeli gypsy pop that he brought home from Israel when I was about 17. It is quite possibly the worst album ever made. It kind of sounds like a recording of the lead singer of Gogol Gordello yelling epithets at a group of feral cats, while trying to attack them with a guitar and a sack of hearty Ukrainian potatoes. On several different occasions, my dad tried to force my sister and I to listen to the Israeli music. That was the closest either of us ever came to requesting legal emancipation.

Thanks to Passion of the Weiss funk consigliere, The Aquarium Drunkard, I’ve spent a significant portion of my week listening to Soul Messages From Dimona, a collection of gospel/funk/soul songs that have managed to erase all negative connotations that I may have had of Israeli music. Granted, the musicians who made it were Black Hebrew musicians from Detroit who moved to Dimona, Israel from 1975-1981, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. Besides, this is great stuff, therein confirming my long-time suspicions that if black people and Jews came together like the shaolin and the Wu-Tang, we’d be dangerous. Or at least as good as Jordan Farmar.

Pre-Order Soul Messages From Dimona

MP3: Soul Messengers-”Savior in the East”
MP3: Soul Messengers-”Go to Proclaim”

"Go To Proclaim" has cool singing in slightly off Hebrew.

You can check out the Soul Messengers own page here (yes, they're still going strong). They're part of the Kingdom Productions stable of black gospel and soul acts out of Dimona. For videos, check out Bahkooryah's YouTube space.

As a post script, Dimona is in Hezbollah rocket range from Lebanon. Dimona was the target of an attempted double suicide bombing attack on February 4; the second bomber was killed in the first explosion. One Israeli was killed and 11 injured. Although Abbas condemned the Hamas attack, the Palestinian Authority newspapers described the bombers as shahids, glorious martyrns.

Incidentally, if you are interested in black Jews (apart from Jordan Farmar), then check out these posts on Daniel's blog.

Added: It seems Numero has issued some other gems, such as Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Rotation (see The Smudge of Ashen Fluff) and Don't Stop: Recording Tap (see Gorilla Vs Bear).

Photograph by Wendel White. [Source]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There was a pretty trashy (I thought) programme on TV last night about the ark of the covenant, but it made be aware of another Africang roup (other than Ethiopians) who claim Jewish descent - the Lemba people of Southern African ( File under interesting if true.