The Jewish Monkeys Present “Black But Sweet”

PG-13Meet the Jewish Monkeys. They are an unlikely Klezmer Burlesque trio, originally from Europe and now residing in Israel. Gal Zaidner was born in Belgium and currently works as a shrink. Ronni Boiko is a veterinarian. Jossi Reich aka Joe Fleisch, the founding monkey and financier is an entrepreneur and co-owner of the German label Essay-Recordings (well worth a look for some far out Jewy music awesomeness btw). Together they are the Jew Monkeys and after somewhat of a hiatus, they have just released a new video called Black But Sweet – a yiddish inflected cover of a 1930’s era song by Caribbean American crooner Wilmoth Houdini. Houdini was a prolific recorder and performer. His 1939 composition “He Had It Coming” was a hit for Louis Jordan and Ella Fitzgerald under the new title “Stone Cold Dead in the Market”. The song stayed on the top of the R&B charts for five weeks, and reached no. 7 on the pop charts. But I digress.

This track has all kinds of music geek street cred and the Jewish Monkeys do a good (great even) job blending a traditional calypso tune with a klezmer sound. And then there’s that crazed yiddish bit. I don’t know what that’s all about except to say that it works and I am enthralled. Ashkenazic shtetlach yiddin are so exotic, no? There is a clue however in the press release they sent me:

By inserting the language of his parents into different styles of contemporary pop music, where Yiddish is so uncommon since it has been nearly wiped out amongst the secular, and has generally remained alive among religious Jews, Joe Fleisch’s message goes: “This is how Jewish pop-music would have sounded today, had the Holocaust never happened.”

See that? See the Jewy angle? Also, in Judaism, singing the praises of African women has a long history. Moses married a sistah (I can say that because as a Morrocan, I have deep roots in Africa) and King Solomon’s epic love poem, the Song of Songs, was reportedly a tribute to the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba, so there you have it, now enjoy the video clip!

Reposted from Jewlicious

Founder and editor of Jewlicious, David enjoys contemplating thought provoking issues and terrorizing Jerusalem pedestrians and drivers with his mountain bike. He is not a gun runner nor is he a member of any crime family.
  • The first couple of times that I watched this video, I was just confused and found it to be… bizarre. But I’ve now seen it maybe three or four times, and totally embrace the weirdness – not to mention that the tune is hella catchy.

    Thanks for finding this gem and – if you ever make it to Texas – I’ll show you how I sing the praises of African women, East Austin style. 🙂

  • Anonymous Internet Commenter

    I actually found this video kind of….racist? Am I alone here?