Souls of Fire / Firedancing

Album cover: Burning something that could be construed as firedancing.

Souls of Fire

Melting Pot Records, 1998

Melting Pot Records
37 Northbrook Rd., Southampton SO14 OBW
Tel: +017 03 227 256

And now, for an entirely British take on the next wave of klezmer fusion, allow me to take you to the town of Southampton, the the United Kingdom. Souls of Fire have captured an absolutely scintillating collection of very British klezmer. It is as though Steeleye Span at its height decided to play klezmer instead, with a mix of klez, British folk harmonies, reggae, and rock.

The band is not long in making its intentions known. The opening "Araber Tants" is deceptively traditional for a few changes, and then one realizes that the sound of the solo instrument is suspiciously like, well, bagpipes. The band does a far more traditional medley following, and one wonders if perhaps there was an illusion. But, were that true, how would one account for the very British folksong--and entirely un-Ladino sound of "Avrix Mi Galanica" (Open up my love). Lest the band be accused of pulling only klezmer in new directions, one must also consider their reggae-tinged "Tzatziki." And, then there is the new (to me) "1914" with its anti-war message, and a melody and rhythm that owe much to modern trance, except for the presence of the words, and the anger of the words. "Mitzva Tants" share the trance-klez without words, further showing off how the two fit well together. And then, for all that I have focused on the fusion stuff, there are cuts like "Firen Di Mekhutonim Aheym" or the "Odessa Bulgar that are entirely familiar.

Add it all up, and could this be confused for anything but a straight-ahead, post-revival, klezmer album? I think not. And I say this despite the presence of a klezmer first: a "dub mix" of "Tzatziki." So, can you listen to this album without tapping your feet and perhaps getting up to dance around the room? I similarly think not. This is neat. This is fun. Go for it, I say. Ari Bob says, "check this one out!"

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 5/30/98

Personnel this recording:
Kelly Ager: trumpet, vocals
Benno: bass guitar, vocals
Nic Bradford: electric guitar, keyboards, lead vocals
Duncan Brown: clarinet, tenor saxophone, keyboards, bombarde
Nick Carson: drums, castanets, congas
Mac: percussion, drums, double bass, vocals
Cath Watkins: violin, vocals


  1. Araber Tants (trad. Ashkenaz/Brandwein) 6:49
  2. Skutchna/Freylekhs (trad. Ashkenaz) 5:39
  3. Avrix Mi Galanica (trad. Ladino) 2:49
  4. Mazl Tov Shver un Shviger (trad. Ashkenaz) 3:37
  5. Tzatziki (trad. Greek) 4:40
  6. Odessa Bulgar (trad. Ashkenaz) 3:39
  7. 1914 (trad. Yiddish, from Beregovski) 5:31
  8. Silver Wedding (trad. Ashkenaz) 6:00
  9. Mitzva Tants (trad. Ashkenaz) 7:32
  10. Dance of Zalongou (trad. Greek) 5:35
  11. La Mambocina--hora/souk/la Mambocina (trad. Ashkenaz/Bradford/Brown) 7:26
  12. Firen Di Mekhutonim Aheym (Brandwein) 3:05
  13. Tzatziki--dub mix (trad. Greek) 4:28

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