Kabalas / Eye of Zohar

Album cover: Green Zo-har game with eye and musicians. k001!

The Eye of Zohar

Dionysus Records ID123349, 1997

So, if Mickey Katz were making fun and funk today, what would he sound like? The Kabalas are pretty sure that he'd be part of their band. And they may be right. In any event, although there is lots of klezmer and klezmer influence here, and although Jewish history and culture begin to look like a kid's playbox when twisted by these psychotic, midwesterners allegedly descended from authentic klezmorim of the old school, the result can be a lot of fun. Better than that, folks who have seen the band in concert come away mightily impressed.

This is the band, after all, that gave the world, "Get Maj!", and the "Wall Martt Polkaa," which I still sing to all of my friends whenever I pass by one. (See the review of Martinis and Bagels. Since that first album, Scott Morschhausen's voice hasn't gotten any better, but the band continues to deliver everything from jumping polka to surreal Judea-lord-knows-what. Their theme song, "Ay Kabalas" is even getting some commercial airplay, along with the catchy "Traci Lords Polka." (There are few things more annoying than finding oneself humming a song concerning someone about whom one has never heard a peep before. I gather from the lyrics that she was an underage porn star who has done well. Okay, I can see the band that can set the Golem story to a quiet tune doing well by this one. I just hope someone sends me e-mail and explains all.)

The band describes this album as a "concept album, bouncing back and forth between traditional mysticism and pop culture oddities like the game Ka-Bala from 1967." Okay. I can get behind that. I may stop humming the Traci Lords Polka about when i forget the Wall Martt Polka or the title song. I've actually become rather fond of former simkha tunes like "Simontov U Mazeltwist" or "Hava Nagila." Or even slightly bent instrumentals, "Soviette" or "The Crossing Guard's Coffee Break." I've even gotten behind the cheesy cocktail lounge version of "Shir La Shalom". Friends are going to be very surprised next time I show up at a teary peace rally ready to lead the sing-along.

Face it. Mickey Katz required Yiddish. The Kabalas require only a CD player and a slightly twisted mind. Which is more accessible? Think your answer through carefully: The Eye of Zohar is upon you.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 12/4/97

Personnel this recording:
Scott Morschhauser: vocals, accordion, saw, bongos, auxiliary percussion
"Nervous" Neal Smith: soprano sax, tenor sax, flute, backing vocals
Barry "The Wolfman" Wolf: accordion, auxiliary percussion
"Mr." Joel Dick: trap set, frame drum, tam tam


  1. Ay Kabalas! (words & music: Scott Morschhauser) 3:13
  2. Hava Netse B'Machol (trad., arr. the Kabalas) 3:42
  3. Cliché (words & music: Scott Morschhauser) 4:21
  4. The Golem (words & music: Scott Morschhauser) 5:11
  5. Soviette (music by Neal Smith) 4:55
  6. Traci Lords Polka (words & music by Scott Morschhauser) 3:09
  7. The Crossing Guard's Coffee Break (words & music by Scott Morschhauser & Neal Smith) 2:30
  8. Simontov U Mazeltwist (trad., arr. Barry Wolf and the Kabalas) 3:00
  9. The Eye of Zohar (words & music by Scott Morschhauser) 5:01
  10. Hava Nagila (trad., arr. The Kabalas) 4;02
  11. Shir La Shalom (music: Yair Rosenbloom) 2:33
  12. Chico Marx (words & music by Scott Morschhauser) 3:24
  13. Rom'mu (trad., arr. The Kabalas) 2:56
  14. Love Theme from The Eye of Zohar (words & music by Scott Morschhauser) 1:24

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