Shalom Hanoch - White Wedding
On November 27, 1981, Shalom Hanoch did it for the third time!!! He sparked a musical revolution when he released one of the most influential albums in Israeli music, his second album in Hebrew "White Wedding".
Why for the third time? Because Shalom Hanoch is the only Israeli artist whose name is associated with not one, not two but no less than three musical revolutions. He did this for the first time together with Arik Einstein with the masterful trilogy of "Pozzi", "Shablool" and "Pastelina", which are considered the first Hebrew rock albums. He did it again with Tamouz's "End of the Orange Season", which is considered one of the most important and influential albums in Israeli music, and he did it the third time when he reinvented himself with the revolutionary and groundbreaking album "White Wedding".
Why the second one in Hebrew? Because after the success with Arik Einstein, Shalom flew to England and tried to start an international career. He was signed by producer Dick James, who at the time also managed Elton John. He even recorded a solo album in English, called "Shalom", in 1971, accompanied by Elton John's musicians at the time. But then came the failure. In 1973 he returned to Israel, the broken country after the "Yom Kippur War". He starts writing new material, returns to perform with Arik Einstein, and at the same time looks to start his own band. He receives an offer to form a group in the style of "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young", which started with Mati Caspi, Shalom Hanoch, Ariel Zilber, and Danny Litani, but finally, it evolved into the band "Tamouz", which released its only album "End of the Orange Season" in 1976, and immediately disbanded. Thus, it turned out that Shalom Hanoch's first solo album in Hebrew was "Man within himself", which was released in 1977.
Why a musical revolution? Because the difference between "Man within himself" and "white wedding" is simply amazing. Because even though both albums were affected by Shalom's personal life, especially the fall of his international career, the commercial failure of "Tamouz" and his divorce, even though both albums were produced by super producer Louie Lahav, still "White Wedding" is a different, revolutionary, influential album. It is different from anything else that had been heard in Israel up to that time. If "Man within himself" was based on quiet, acoustic, melancholic, and melodic songs, with a minimalistic production, then with "White Wedding" we get an electric, angry, and kicking album with a rich and full sound and with a production that is not was heard before in Israel. An album that shocked the fans and the industry and not always in a positive way. People didn't really know how to react to it at first. You can even say that it was ahead of its time, at least in Israeli terms. Just like the audience in the US reacted incorrectly to Bob Dylan's second concert at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965, when he decided to go on stage for the first time with an electric guitar, so did the Israeli audience did not understand what the hell was the connection between Shalom Hanoch, "white wedding" and the heavy and electric sound. It was even done really defiantly, when Shalom appeared on the album cover next to his Fender Telecaster electric guitar.
Heavy and electric sound? We are talking about a "milestone" in the development of Hebrew music. "Wall Of Sound" made in Israel. Not Phil Spector's, but Louis Lahav's, who worked with none other than Bruce Springsteen, and that of Jaroslav Yakovovich, who just returned to Israel after working with artists like Paul Simon and Ray Charles. Shalom himself asked the two to produce an album with a heavier sound. He asked and they fulfilled. The sound was so rich and full that recording Shalom's vocals were not easy at all. Rumor has it that Louie Lahav asked Shalom to scream for a long time, to get a hoarse and rough voice in the recording. So that's it, it wasn't really needed, because the sound was so full that Shalom had to really make an effort to stand out above the music layers.
"Milestone"? Yes indeed. The album may have failed commercially, it may have received harsh reviews at the time of its release, but it is undoubtedly an Israeli "milestone". One that gave a tremendous boost to music in Israel, an injection of entropy to Israeli rock, one that influenced generations of artists, that broadened the horizons of producers, that convinced the studios to invest in recording and sound equipment. One that taught the artists an important lesson in openness, authenticity, personal and moving writing, and above all in the courage of an artist who sometimes has to follow his truth to the end.
Commercial failure? So you must be wondering how such an important and influential album failed commercially. Shalom always sought to renew and change. When he started writing the materials for the album, he saw before his eyes a personal concept album, one that would tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. A story about his life, about the kibbutz, about the move to the big city, the adventure abroad, and his divorce from Lihi. He wanted to wrap the songs in a bombastic and heavy production that was not heard like it in Israel and went with his truth to the end. Beyond the two international producers, Loui Lahav and Yaroslav Yakovovich, The best artists and musicians of Israel participated in the recording of this album. Meir Israel, Jean-Paul Zimbris, and Araleh Kaminsky as drummers, Miki Shabib on bass, Gil Dor on guitar, Moshe Levy on keyboards, Dafna Armoni and Mazi Cohen on vocals, and more. To this, we must add many Studios hours, in Israel and abroad, recordings and mixing, and here you have a project in which over a hundred thousand dollars were invested, a fantastic number in terms of Israeli production in the 1980s. If you add to that the grandiose production that the audience in Israel was not yet ready for and the fact that the musical material was difficult to digest, you have a commercial failure. How hard is it to digest? Although the album includes some of the greatest songs in Shalom's career, such as "White Wedding", "The Known Roads", "Real Affair", "Comin to Me or Going Away", "Money", "Accident", "Snapshot" and more, the only song to be released to the radio was "Shir Derech" which seals the album and thus it must be testified that it was clear to all involved that the rest of the songs would not be received with great sympathy.
It seems that even Shalom foresaw the result, as he chose to open the album with the immortal song "The Known Roads" which includes the following words:
"I came up on stage to sing looking for an audience
No worries - a new page opens...
Standing on stage naked ready to burn
No worries - a new page opens..."
This was not the only prophecy of Shalom, which fulfilled itself. One of the most beautiful songs on the album "Accident" was written about the breakup of a relationship, an "accident" between him and her, but this one also happened in reality. In 1982, several months after the release of the album, Arik Einstein and Shalom Hanoch went to the "Shablool" club to celebrate the end of the tour. When Arik returned home, he was involved in a serious accident in which he was seriously injured.
Success? Yes Yes. "White Wedding" is one of those albums where the stakes are huge. A Win or Lose album. So that's it, in this case, we got both. The album and the show that accompanied it may have failed commercially, but "White Wedding" was the foundation on which Shalom built his solo career. It was the one who turned him from an artist who was perceived as a "singer-songwriter" with an acoustic, to a rebellious rocker with an electric guitar. The failure of "White Wedding" will indeed bring Shalom "to go to safe grounds", with lighter and more catchy songs on the album "On the face of the Earth", but just beyond the horizon was waiting "Waiting for the Messiah", the album that will make Shalom the biggest Israeli rocker ever.