Usually when someone claims to have recorded "modern" versions of traditional Jewish music, the results are too cheesy to describe. So I was pretty skeptical when "Let My People Go-Go" by the artist formerly known as Zoom Golly landed on my desk.
I popped it into the player just to get it over with. When I cranked the volume, reactions around the office ranged from complete disbelief to groans of mock disapproval.
But the CD wasn't what I expected.
Of course, "Let My People Go-Go" is a very kitschy CD, but this isn't your ordinary, everyday kitsch. The singing is decidedly wack, and most of the 13 tracks are folk songs you probably learned at camp. But it is also so amazingly groovy that you'll be moving to the rhythm in spite of yourself. The production quality is high: if not for the singing, you'd swear that these tracks were taken from the turntables of the hippest DJs in town.
With modern dance mixes of such traditional bar mitzvah and wedding fare as "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem," "Hava Nagila" and "Hatikvah," this disc was clearly made for those community events where traditional songs are unavoidable but you would rather not interrupt the rhythm just to keep Uncle Moishe happy.
The disc opens with a house version of "Zum Gali Gali," then a dub version of "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem." But you'll want this one just for the funk version of "Hava Nagila," which features some very spacey theremin (the mother of all electronic instruments) and jammin' Hammond organ.
Zoom, who refuses to reveal his real name or bio (he insists his wife's name is Laly Golly) says he created the album because he was disappointed there wasn't anything good for Jews to party to. "I'm trying to bring some coolness to our flavor," he explained in a phone interview from his Silver Lake home. He nearly succeeds where others have failed miserably.
Will you listen to "Let My People Go-Go" in your car or just around the house? Get real! But if you're planning a non-traditional simcha, buy this disc. "Let My People Go-Go" is only available online at roundlight.com or amazon.com.