Danny Ben-Israel

The Kathmandu Sessions

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Danny Ben-Israel's main claim to fame is an album called Bullsh*t 3 1/4, the first psychedelic protest album sung in Hebrew. During those same sessions in 1968, he also recorded a handful of tracks in English, which are now seeing their first release 35 years after the fact. Recorded in Tel Aviv, Israel, the title concept comes from the fact that the bandmembers (most names lost to the fog of the times) heard you could buy hashish in stores in Nepal, so the recording session took the form of an imagined journey to Kathmandu (sic) for the purpose of scoring hash (although it sounds like they had some success in Israel). That pretty much sets the stage for this ultra-stoned sonic adventure. After a short, spoken introduction (flubbed several times with plenty of giggling), they begin the journey, chugging along with a psychedelic fuzz jam. Apparently, they arrive about eight minutes in with an exclamation of "Freak Out! Freak Out!" and some crazy stereo effects. Another quick, harsh edit, and we're back to the psychedelic jam where we hear "We got to Nepal, man, and like we copped some opium and lost three days...and Peter threw up." Heady stuff, eh? The next track is "Bad Trip," with plenty of backwards effects; then "Do You Believe in Fairytales?" and "Seagull," a silly free form jam with tin whistle. "Can't Stand You" is lots of fuzz guitar and fuzz bass, with a kind of guttural scatting over the top, and some brief vocal outbursts that are surely the precursor of Anton Maiden's delivery style. That actually rounds out the original Kathmandu Sessions, but also included is a track recorded in 1970 as a bonus. In 1970, Ben-Israel attended the Isle of Wight festival, which is often cited as the end of the Peace & Love era (those who have seen the film documentary fully understand why). Ben-Israel certainly picked up on this, and recorded the track "The Hippies of Today Are the Assholes of Tomorrow," featuring the title refrain, as well as "It's a weary world, nothing really changes but props, gadgets and decor. Need I say more?." Fairly prescient stuff, but as on target as the last track may be, this album is really pretty mediocre as a musical experience. It's value mostly lies in the fact that it originated in Israel, not exactly a hotbed of psychedelic activity, and the unique picture of the times that it paints. That being said, there are a lot of psych collectors who like to dig deep, and this will be a fine addition to a collection like that.

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