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Rockfour - Return To The Snail CD (album) cover




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3.17 | 3 ratings

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3 stars This is a cover album to the mighty 'Shablul' ('snail') album from 1970, and to some other related songs. 'Shablul' considered as one of the very first Hebrew rock albums. (In fact the first one is 'Pozi' by almost the same crew) and contain 60's Beatles - esque songs, with sixties oriented charming Hebrew lyrics.

a bit of Hebrew rock-pop history: The Israeli mythology tells that Arik Einstein, than about 30 years old, a well-known and loved singer in Israel, had contact with Shalom Chanoch, in his early 20's, a very talented song writer and guitarist, that already had a solid background with some other excellent Israeli acts, in order to create together in an innovative, open- influenced style. The result was a serious of milestone Israeli albums. 'Shablul' is the third of this serious.

Another fact that worth mentioning is that Arik Einstein, as a true pioneer, is also involved in the first Hebrew 'Pop album', 'The high windows', along with Shmulik Kraus as a songwriter, and Josie Kats as a female vocalist. (This album contains pop rock songs with lots of vocal harmonies and lines). Both albums belong to the local Israeli pantheon.

Thus, covering such a classic album as 'Shablul' could be considered as a hard mission and means to enter to some big shoes. Rockfour managed to do a good work here, in their Own interpretation. The guys from Rockfour took those songs, strengthened pshycadelic mood, dropped some instruments from the original versions, changed the sound and production, fixed a little bit the grooves, and managed to get a much more sixties product than the '70 original version. (In fact, in the introspective, conscripted Israeli society back then, making a true Hebrew 60's album was an impossible mission.)

Some artistic decisions that made here are a bit weird in my opinion. Such as dropping the fantastic blues feel from 'Don't give up' ('Al tevatri alay') and 'Take a woman' ('Kach lecha') and go for much more pop-psych grooves. The songs don't come out well in those arrangements IMO. (track 4 and 5).

On the other hand the 'Prague' song (track 8) sound fantastic here, without all those festival - esque trumpets and violins, and instead, featuring an excellent bass riff (from Mark Lazar). The song got much rockier, and the moving lyrics about the end of '68 'Prague spring' are much more presence here. Other successful covers are 'Absalom' (track 2) and 'Don't take it too hard'. ('Lama li lakahat lalev', track 4). The former is a hippie - sixties song with surrealistic hope- for- peace lyrics, The latter is a beautiful ballad with quite part, and a rock part alternating each other, and give reminiscence to some Lennon - McCartney songs in the same pattern.

Another benefit is the full, uncensored version lyrics to the Hebrew whimsies of the 'I'm singing' song ('Ani shar', track 7). (The original version is lyrically softening a bit, to feet into the radio criteria). And also presence here is the necessary 'Once there was a man' ('Hayo haya', the last 13 track) from 'Pozy' album (by Misha Segal) in memory of Zigi Screbnick, a genuine keyboard player, that died very young from a disease, but will be remembered for some great piano and keyboard playing at that era, including 'the High Windows' album mentioned above. The song cover is controlled by some roaring, psychedelic organ sounds and heavy ponding rhythm.

As for the Vocal execution, compared to the original: the vocals are made by band members Eli Lulai and Baruch Ben Yitzhak, and many other guest vocalists. Eli Lulai is the best among this crew. The other are good also, but still, not a chance that any of them would reach to the same quality and heights as the original vocals by Arik Einstein, that considered as a local Frank Sinatra (but rockier), Especially in terms of acting and delivering the songs. But I think for a non-Israeli listener (if someone interested) it's not such a big issue. In any case, the vocalists here sound rockier than the original, what may be making the whole thing more attractive for 'abroad' listener (who is tolerant to Hebrew lyrics).

So to sum it up, this album is an excellent opportunity to get exposed to the very first rock- pop Israeli songs, in a Beatles vein. This phase comes before the 'Israeli art rock movement' that featured partly in this site, (and held by Shlomo Gronich, Matti Kaspi, Yoni Rechter and co.), and equal to proto-prog in this site. The album could be purchased in a cheap price at the local online stores.

ShW1 | 3/5 |


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