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Tue, Sep. 12th, 2006, 07:04 pm
Ten Greatest Jewish Albums Ever (Aka: Really??)

This project will hopefully span some time, but the current timeline is: I post these ten, which I'd argue are the ten greatest Jewish albums of all time. You argue with me. I try to defend my choices. Eventually, I clean it up, and post the final selection (which may or may not be entirely different), with a defense of each choice. In this list, I've taken into account influence, significance, meaning, resonance, and whether I personally loved it. Feel free to argue with any choice, and whether it doesn't belong because it isn't great, or because it isn't Jewish.

Ten Best Jewish Albums Ever (In Progress, Not in Order)

Jewlia Eisenberg, Trilectic
Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
Shlomo Carlebach, Shuva
Soulfarm, Live In Berlin 2 ( Alternatively: C Lanzbom, Butterfly )
John Zorn, The Masada Projects
The Klezmatics with Chava Alberstein, The Well ( Alternatively: Rise Up )
MBD, Jerusalem is Not For Sale ( Alternatively: Avraham Fried, Chazak)
Simon and Garfunkel, The Graduate Soundtrack ( Alternatively: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme )
Beck, Mellow Gold
Leonard Cohen, The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Also, I'm sure I'm missing obvious choices. Feel free to submit them.

Wed, Sep. 13th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)

Off the top of my head:

Golden Hits of the Shangri-Las
any good Phil Spector anthology
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill
any good Gershwin anthology
The Modern Lovers (first alb)*
The Ramones
The Ramones - Leave Home
The Ramones - Rocket to Russia
Tom Lehrer Revisited
insert favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein/Rodgers and Hart musical here
West Side Story
A Christmas Gift for You (a.k.a. Phil Spector's Christmas Album) (a serious choice, though obviously problematic)
The Band (2nd album)
Allan Sherman - My Son the Folksinger
Get someone who knows the stuff Jolson, Cantor, Brice, etc. well to recommend good albs of theirs.

*I assume but don't know that Jonathon Richman is Jewish; name is Jewish and songs feel that way too ("She was sensitive, she understood me/She understood the European thing from 1943")

**Don't know how eligible the Band would be, but the Jewish guy, Robbie Robertson, is crucial to the album all right.

OK, not that there has to be a set of rules, but what are your criteria for a "Jewish" album? Knowing that Dylan is Jewish obviously makes one see all sorts of Jewish affinities/content/predilections in Highway 61 Revisited, but if David Johansen had been Jewish and the Dolls albums were absolutely as they are I'd find a lot of the same "Jewish" obsessions in them as I find in Dylan, ditto for any Stooges album if Iggy'd been Jewish. And if you do count Highway 61 Revisited, how can you not count White Light/White Heat and The Modern Lovers?

Is Rick Rubin Jewish? Scott Storch is, but would you say he's a good*** producer who happens to be Jewish, or that there's something Jewish in his work? Or why should we exclude "good performer/artist who happens to be Jewish" just because we don't perceive any specifically Jewish content in his work. (And what's Jewish content?)

(***or from your point-of-view maybe not-so-good, I forgot that you didn't like the Paris Hilton album, which I think has parts that are just beautiful)

Wed, Sep. 13th, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)

For a comprehensive list of Jewish albums - I'd definitely include all the one's you mentioned. I was completely inspired by your comment on Chuck's 500 Greatest Metal Albums Ever (is the title correct?), that the most important word there is "500." So I wanted to embrace as many albums as possible. That said: I agree that White Light/White Heat is as good as Highway 61 Revisited, though Highway 61 Revisited has such overt Jewish themes (not to mention the Abraham sequence) as well as the enormous covert Jewish themes (alienation, diaspara, etc). Do you feel that White Light/White Heat is as obvious a choice?

I also love the Ramones, but again, I'm not sure how Jewish I consider their music. Obviously *they* are Jewish, but I'm shooting for a Jewish album more than a Jewish artist. To that end, I think The Graduate Soundtrack is the most Jewish of S&G's album (for a similar reason that I imagine you suggested Phil Spector's Christmas Album... which is such a bloody amazing choice, I want to include it).

God knows how I forgot the Beastie Boys. Either Licensed to Ill or Paul's Boutique will certainly be on the final list.

West Side Story I'm not as sure of... there are metareasons, apart from the music itself, why it's Jewish. But I'm not sure how Jewish the actual songs are - clearly writing that kind of album at that kind of time...

:: "Is Rick Rubin Jewish? Scott Storch is, but would you say he's a good*** producer who happens to be Jewish, or that there's something Jewish in his work? Or why should we exclude "good performer/artist who happens to be Jewish" just because we don't perceive any specifically Jewish content in his work. (And what's Jewish content?)

Again, I didn't want to limit the selections, but I think that for a top 10 list, if the spot is in contention between two people - one who made a clearly Jewish album, and one who is Jewish but didn't make a Jewish album - I'd give it to the former. Because it is a limited spot. But for the 500 list - I'd want to include both.

And I love Storch. I just don't like Hilton. In fact, I really want to interview Storch about his being Jewish (and naming his Production company "Tuff Jews"), but I can't figure out how to reach him. Any ideas?

Thu, Sep. 14th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC)

Don't know if all four (or six) Ramones were Jewish, but Jewish content seems as high with the Ramones as with anyone. Not religious content, but Jewish gallows humor: frequent themes are complicity in evil, victimization of weak by strong, people being deeply and permanently twisted and damaged, the Holocaust being implied or sometimes actually stated as the epitome of twisted victimization event. All this played for laughs, as if everything were on the level of the World Weekly News or '50s horror comics or old teen heartbreak songs. Probably the ravages of boy-girl heartbreak was the real theme, comic overstatement just being the method (or just for fun); nonetheless, oppression and alienation are givens, and the Holocaust is an implied reference point, as the massacre that beats all other massacres. First song on first album starts off "Blitzkrieg Bop," celebrating teen trendies as if they're storm troopers; album ends on Nazi slogan, "Today ______, tomorrow the world," 'cept they fill the blank in with "Your love," so winning your love is implicitly compared to rape, torture, and murder. "Commando" on album two:

"They do their best, they do what they can
They get them ready for Viet Nam
From old Hanoi to East Berlin
Commando - involved again
First rule is: The laws of Germany
Second rule is: Be nice to mommy
Third rule is: Don't talk to commies
Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salamies"

Complete moral confusion and hypocrisy, done as silliness rather than an indictment. Done for fun.

Wed, Sep. 13th, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC)

Beck is a Scientologist.

Sun, Sep. 17th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): Ben Bresky

For great Jewish music, check out my radio show at http://israelbeat.blogspot.com

Tue, Sep. 19th, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)

Have you ever listened to Killah Priest's 'View from Masada'? It is chockfull of anachronistic goodness. I mention this because I'd love to see a Zorn-Killah Priest Masadah mash-up.