Israeli Rock of the 60s and 70s: Part 2

Part one is here. Musicians from Acharit Hayamim to Ilan Chester are talked about in that post.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s talk about more Israeli rock stars of the 60s and 70s.

ITC Sextet: Very little is known about this obscure group. What we do know is that the band were made up of study abroad students from the Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and a few other African countries. When they weren’t studying, they liked to play music. After the recording was released, the members returned to their respective countries.

I can only find two of their songs, “If Mama Knows” and “Bailar Cha Cha Cha”. The former combines African sounds with 60s beat music and the latter is more Latin in sound as you can tell from the title.

Kaveret: Tel Aviv rock band active from 1973-1976. They represented Israel in 1974 at Eurovision. Their name translates to “beehive.” Kaveret are well-loved in Israel and are considered important in the country’s rock music history. The lineup consist of friends Danny Sanderson, Gidi Gov, Alon Oleartchik, Efraim Shamir, and Meir “Poogy” Fenigstein who met during their army service in the Nahal Entertainment Troupe in the late 60s. The band were largely influenced by The Beatles

In 1973, just after the Yom Kippur War, Kaveret released their debut album Sipurei Poogy (Poogy’s Tales). Rock opera Sipurei Poogy is considered one of the most important albums in Israeli rock history. Most of the songs were written by Danny Sanderson for a rock opera, called Poogy Opera, but a lot like Pete Townshend and his Lifehouse concept, that was never realised and some of the songs went into a fan favourite album. Because of this album, Kaveret won Voice of Israel’s “Band of the Year”. By the end of the 80s, the album sold over 140,000 copies.

The album has kind of a prog/jazzy sound to it. The songs go all over the place, telling crazy stories, lyrics with random humour, and of course you gotta have love songs. Overall, it’s an excellent album and if you have time to listen to some albums I talk about in this post, give this one a try.

The following year, they followed up with Poogy in Pita, another album full of older songs written for a rock opera. For the second year in a row, they won “Band of the Year”. The cover literally has the band coming out of pita bread with veggies in the background. Now I just want falafel. Lots of different sounds can be heard on this album. My favourite tracks are: 1, 3, 6, and 7. While it wasn’t as successful as their debut, it was still considered a good album.

Kaveret released their last studio album in 1975, called Crowded Ear (in English). This is their most diverse album in sound, but this was the reason they broke up the next year. The band were going their separate ways. It’s not a bad album, but it isn’t as worth listening to as their earlier works.

Ktzat Acheret: Short-lived prog rock band, considered to be the only prog rock band at the time in the country. Ktzat Acheret were made up of Shlomo Gronich, Shem Tov Levi, and Schlomo Ydov. Their name translates to “A little bit different”. They released one album in 1975, but it was not a success. Jonathan Geffen wrote “Pink Skies” and “The Little Prince”. My favourite tracks are: “Guru”, “Travelling”, “Shemi’s Piece”, and “Bissalad”, which is an interesting little tribute to The Beatles with some quotes from “Carry That Weight”.

Matti Caspi: Multi-instrumentalist Matti Caspi was born in Kibbutz Hanitah. He learnt to play the piano when he was 10 and appeared on a radio talent show when he was 16. While in the military, he was in a band.

Finally, when he left the military, he formed a trio and released an album in 1972 called They Don’t Care. It’s a hard to find album. Around the time of the Yom Kippur War, he toured with Leonard Cohen, playing for the troops.

The following year, he released an album called Behind the Sounds with Shlomo Gronich. If you like jazz inspired music and pianos, you’ll like this album. Overall, I liked this album.

Matti Caspi released his solo debut in 1974, simply titled Matti Caspi – The First Solo Album. My favourite tracks are 1, 6, and 10. He played all the instruments on this album. He mentioned that Arik Einstein was the person who inspired him to record a solo album after he gave Einstein a song to record.

In 1976, he released his second solo album, Matti Caspi – The Second Solo Album. Tracks 2, 4, 6, and 8 are my favourites. The famous album cover, which is a doorbell with Matti Caspi’s name next to it was designed by David Tartakover and Gerard lon took the photo. Ehud Manor wrote most of the songs on this album and musicians Shlomo Ydov, Gidi Gov, and Avner Kenner were guest musicians on the album. Around this time, he represented Israel in Eurovision.

In 1978, he released his third solo album, Side A Side B. My favourite tracks are 3, 5, 8, and 10.

The Lions of Juda: One of the best-known Israeli bands of the 60s. Their style was like The Churchills and Uzi and the Styles. Like a lot of Israeli rock bands, they started playing covers of popular British and American songs. In 1969, they went to London and recorded a psychedelic/garage rock single for Fontana Records “Our Love’s a Growing Thing”/“Katja”. The single was released internationally. In this article, member Haim Saban talks about his time in the band. His story about how he went from barely knowing how to play guitar to being in a rock band is very interesting – kind of reminds me of Sing Street.

Oshik Levi: Folk/pop singer born Asher Levi in 1944 to a father of Bulgarian descent and a mother of Bukharan/Greek descent. When he was in the military he was in a band. In 1971, he released his debut album, A Little Bit of Silence. He released a self-titled sophomore album three years later. In between those two albums, he did acting. In 1976, he released his third album, Where Did We Go Wrong?

On Spotify, you can find a box set of his albums. My favourite tracks are 2, 3, 5, and 7, which are from his first album; 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, and 21, which are from his second album; and 22, 24, 28, 30, and 31 which are from his third album.

The Pure Souls: Trio formed in 1972 after they left the IDF and made up of Nathan Cohen, Nava Baruchin, and Yoram Yeruhami. When they were in the IDF, Cohen and Baruchin were in the combat engineering team and Baruchin was in the Paratroopers Brigade. Cohen was the leader of the band, writing poems and lyrics and turning them into songs. They had some chart success in 1973 and released their only album in 1974, which was self-titled. Matti Caspi and Ehud Manor contributed to the album. I like tracks 3, 5, 6, and 7.

Shlomo Artzi: Folk singer from Alonei Abba. His parents were Holocaust survivors and their stories were influential to him. His family were also artistic, with his sister being a playwright. As a kid, he would act, and his peers thought he would pursue that instead of music. When he was 16, he started writing his own original music. While in the military, he was in the Naval Corps Entertainment Group and worked alongside others who would end up becoming famous. He peaked in fame in the early 70s, but declined in the mid 70s. However, he was prolific and released albums every year of the decade.

In 1970, he participated in the Israeli Song Festival and released his self-titled debut.

The following year, he released his second album, About People. Most of the songs on this album were original compositions.

In 1972, he released Suddenly Many Other Days.

In 1973, he started a record label and released a compilation album of Israeli themed songs he played at festivals. Track 6 is a cover of “Eleanor Rigby”.

In 1974, Artzi participated in the song festival again and released the album, To All Members of the Journey From Sea to Sea. Personally, I like tracks: 2, 4 (love the organs), 6, and 12.

In 1975, Shlomo Artzi represented Israel in Eurovision with the Ehud Manor-penned song “You And Me” (track 1). Unfortunately, this marked the beginning of a period of decline in popularity for him. There is a cover of Ricky Nelson’s “Teenage Idol” (track 8) and Bobby Darin’s “Things” (track 9).

That same year, he released the album, Games 26, the number 26, referring to his age at the time.

In 1978, the record label were growing disappointed with him and Artzi almost gave up on music entirely. Surprisingly, the album, A Man Lost was more successful than his previous ones.

Shalom Hanoch: Along with Arik Einstein, he is one of the most influential rock stars in Israel’s history. He grew up on Kibbutz Mishmarot playing music and listening to a variety of genres, but later on got into rock music. He got his first jazz guitar at the age of 12.

At the age of 18, like everyone else, he joined the military and played music and wrote songs during his service. In the late 60s, he started playing in clubs in Tel Aviv. It was at the High Windows club that he met Arik Einstein and started collaborating with him. If you want to find out more of his work with him, read part 1, where I talk about Arik Einstein.

In the 70s, he was in Tamouz, which I will discuss later in the post.

In 1971, Hanoch released an album in English, titled Shalom. He recorded this album in the UK and Dick James, who worked with Elton John at the time, produced the album. Elton John’s backing band played on the album too. You can find most of the album on this YouTube playlist. My favourites are “So Long”, “Peaceful Love”, “Under Tropical Moonlight”, and “You Do Need Some Sleep”.

In 1977, he released Adam Betoch Azmo (A Man Within Himself). This was his first solo album in Hebrew and many of the songs are about his life. I like tracks 3 and 7.

Sheshet: One of the most important and influential Israeli prog rock bands. Band leader, Shem Tov-Levi, formed the band in 1976. They released only one album in 1977. They broke up in 1977 after a lack of commercial success and feeling disillusioned. More info on them can be found here. Overall, their album is worth the listen if you like progressive rock. The vocals in track 1 remind me a bit of Yes. Track 3 kind of has a futuristic sound to it and I like the flute. I also like tracks 5, 6, and 7 (this track is kind of funky and disco like).

The Soul Messengers: A soul group made up of American immigrants from Detroit and Chicago. They are part of the Black Hebrew culture in the desert city of Dimona. Their sound is a mix of jazz, funk, soul, and R&B. More info can be found in this review on Pitchfork. The one album they released, Soul Messages From Dimona is a compilation album with the Soul Messengers playing most of songs, with contributions from The Spirit of Israel and Tonistics.

Overall, I really liked this album and I definitely think it’s worth listening to. My favourite tracks are “Our Lord and Saviour”, “Hey There”, “Equilibrium”, “Prince of Zeal”, the jazzy and funky instrumentals “Heaven of Heavens” and “Victory”, “Junky Baby”, and “Saviour in the East”.

Tamuz: Israeli rock band made up of Shalom Hanoch, Ariel Zilber, Meir Israel, Yehuda Adar, and Eitan Gidron. In 1974, Matti Caspi wanted to form a CSNY style band with Dani Litani, Shalom Hanoch, and Ariel Zilber, but that didn’t work out, but Hanoch and Zilber wanted to form a band, so Tamuz was born.

Tamouz only released one album, which translates to End of the Orange Season. Recorded at the famous Triton Studios, the album is a classic in Israeli rock history. Louis Lahav, who had just come back to Israel after working with Bruce Springsteen, produced the album. My favourite tracks on the album are 1, 5, 6, and 9.

After the band’s breakup in 1976, they reunited in 1983 and 2000.

Uzi Fuchs/The Styles: One of the top Israeli bands in the 60s and one of the few bands of the era to release a studio album. Uzi Fuchs was the leader of the band. Similar in style to The Churchills and Lions of Judah, they released one album in 1970 and two singles.

In 1969, the band released “Daytime Nighttime” b/w “I’ve Got Sunshine”. Both songs are psychedelic, poppy, and organ-driven. The a-side is on Friends.

In 1970, the band released “Morning Train” as a single with “Where Were You Last Night” as the b-side. It has more of a garage rock sound than “Daytime Nighttime”.  On Spotify, “Someday” is on the single. It’s also a good song, more like the earlier ones. “Where Were You Last Night” has a bit of a British Invasion sound to it. Overall, this single is worth listening to. “Morning Train” is the last track on the album, Friends.

Also in 1970, they released their only album, Friends. My favourites on the album are “I Thought it Was a Joke”, “My Mother Said”, “South Side of the Hill”, and “Morning Train”. There are also some bonus tracks in Hebrew, which are worth listening to. My favourite ones are the third and fourth ones.

Yehudit (Judith) Ravitz: Singer born in Beer-Sheva. Before her solo career, she was in Sheshet and collaborated with Arik Einstein and Dani Litani. She performed Leah Goldberg’s “Selichot” at Israel Song Festival in 1977. In 2009, she came out as lesbian and spoke about her relationship with girlfriend (at the time), Naomi Kaniuk. They broke up in 2016.

In 1979, she and Yoni Rechter released an album called Once and Forever. I like tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, and 12.

That same year, she released her eponymous solo debut. I like tracks 4, 5, and 10.

Yoni Rechter: This Tel Aviv-born musician was born to an architect, Ya’akov Rechter and an actress, Hanna Meron. He composed music since he was a teenager. After he completed his military service, he played keyboard for Kaveret. He also worked with legendary musicians Arik Einstein, Avner Kenner, Esther Ofarim, Gidi Gov, and Yehudit Ravitz.

In 1978, he, Gidi Gov, Yehudit Ravitz, Yehonatan Geffen, and David Broza recorded an album called The Sixteenth Lamb, which was an album full of songs with lyrics from Geffen’s poetry. I like tracks 9, 11, 14, and 18.

In 1979, he released the album, Intentions. I like tracks 2, 6, 7, and 10.

Zingale: Prog rock band with members from Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. They released only one album in 1977, called Peace. Some songs on the album are in English and others are in Hebrew. My favourite tracks on the album are: “Party Inside”, “Heroica”, “Help This Lovely World”, “Carnival”, “Love Song”, “Stampede”, and “Soon the War is Over”.

And that concludes the series on Israeli rock musicians. Discovered a song or a musician you like? Share your thoughts in the comments section! 🙂

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