December 27, 2010

Chassidisco Fever!

Recorded and released in Israel in 1978, CHASSIDISCO FEVER is now the second LP inspired by the mega-popular Saturday Night Fever movie soundtrack to be featured on this blog (after Sesame Street Fever! back in 2008).

I picked up this record in small record shop in the town of Peterborough, Ontario, a rather unlikely place for an album like this (the title, by the way, is a play on "Chassidism", a branch of Orthodox Judaism). So at first, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Was this a parody album? But then I turned to the back cover and saw lyrics such as "Thy my help come from the Lord, who created heaven and earth ... Hear, O Israel! Our God is an eternal unity" - pretty heavy lyrics for a parody album, and all of the song titles were in Hebrew. When I played the record, I found out that's it's indeed real disco music, and actually sung in Hebrew too.

So I suspect it's a wee bit of both - serious late 70s Israeli disco music, with a nod to the 1977 mega-hit American film. The album consists of five tracks - four on the first side, with Ricki Gal (probably not her real name) providing vocals. The second side is entirely dedicated to the 18-minute instrumental disco epic CHASSIDISCO. 

This track, in my opinion, is where the real "fever" lies. While the main theme (which is repeated intermittently throughout, and sounds a lot like the music in an often-played heartburn medication commercial here in Canada) gets a little tiring after while, there's some good stuff in between. At various points in the piece we hear solos from a flute, a saxophone, some bongo drums with a triangle, an electric guitar, and a funky bass guitar. Particularly notable is an interlude around the 8:50 mark that sounds amazingly like the syncopated horn-and-sax bit in Stevie Wonder's 1976 song "Sir Duke". Mechaieh indeed!

Thanks for your support in 2010 - have a happy, happy New Year! See you in 2011!