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Guns ‘n Charoses Terrible Jewish Puns, Reviewed

For some reason this year has produced a bumper crop of Hanukkah-themed CDs. Why? And are any of them any good? We got young adult novelist Matthue Roth to investigate. Check back all week for more reviews. Under consideration today: … Read More

By / December 8, 2007

For some reason this year has produced a bumper crop of Hanukkah-themed CDs. Why? And are any of them any good? We got young adult novelist Matthue Roth to investigate. Check back all week for more reviews.

Under consideration today: Guns 'n Charoses, Gimme Some Latkes

I loved 2 Live Jews. The spur-of-the-moment nature of the project, the way they grabbed the first Jewish cliché they could think of whenever anything came to mind—to my 8-year-old self, it was pure genius. Why not set Fiddler on the Roof songs to a hip-hop beat? Why not rhyme “what exactly is a shikseh” with “a non-Jewish girl who stands out at the bar mitzvah?” You know, I memorized every word on that album. I could probably recite entire songs, still, today. I really wanted to start talking about Gimme Some Latkes, the first (and probably only) release by the unlikely-monikered Guns ’N Charoses, by discussing the cover—a huge close-up of a latke with a bald, middle-aged, bespectacled, disembodied face floating above it. It’s embarrassing and dorky and actually kind of endearing. The latke, once you know it’s a latke, looks pretty good, but until you realize what it is, it looks….well, sort of gross, almost dog-excrement-like. Which, if you want to know a frightening thought, might be how goyim see disembodied, context-less pictures of latkes. I shoved the CD in my discman quickly, sensing a desperate need for a change of subject. You wouldn’t think a song by Steve Winwood would be up for parody, save by some But a quick search will show how far the phrase “Gimme Some Lovin’” has endeared itself to our language: Ludakris and the book about John Lennon’s FBI files both sample it, and there’s the odd web site Gimme Some Candy. But G&C’s song is the only mention I can find of latkes being demanded in this exact style, and that’s what we’ve got. The music here is uneven. We’re spoiled, of course: “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parodies usually have the original music note-perfect, and even two-bit fakers will hunt down an original instrumental track. But self-proclaimed “Doris’s son” Mark Edelman, along with collaborator Jeremy Beltzer (“his folks are kvelling”), plays shaky, note-imperfect versions of songs by R.E.M. (“Using My Religion”), Kenny Rogers (“The Mohel”) and former members of Latin American boy-bands (“Trying to Date D’vorah”). But there’s an easygoing charm and an earnest groove going, as well as Edelman’s likeable, talk-singing vocals. They work best on songs like “The Mohel” (it’s “The Gambler,” if you couldn’t tell) in which he’s launching punchlines and telling little stories, and least effectively on songs like “Don’t Worry, Keep Kosher.” If the title doesn’t tell you why, you can use your imagination.

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