Friday, July 4, 2008

Introducing Shuli Rand, the Singer

Most of you know Shuli Rand or at least find his face somewhat familiar - you have surely seen him staring as Moshe Ballanga in the award-winning Israeli movie Ushpizin. Until now he was just an actor, actually a great one (he won Israel’s Theater Actor of the Year several times), and he has been out of the spotlight since the buzz around Ushpizin faded out (he used to live in Ramot until recently, and was very frequently called "Ballanga" because many people actually thought that was his real name). But Rand is back, this time releasing his first album, "Good Point".

Of course, this news didn't reach and probably will never reach US soil. As I noted several times, most Israeli albums never reach the US simply because the US and Israeli JM buyers like different things - in the US, Jewish Music albums are more standardized, mainly comprised of mainstream or more yeshivish-styled albums. In the other hand, the Israeli JM market is much more eclectic and there is a ton of "alternative" Jewish Music choices, like Adi Ran and Chaim David. In my period here in Israel I've come to learn that we never get to hear many Israeli hits that enjoy incredible popularity here in Israel. For instance, Shai Barak's Ana Bekoach is so popular that many Shul's have permanently introduced it in their Kabbalat Shabbos services. It's very likely that you have never heard this exquisite song, a kind of song you will probably never hear from an American JM singer (I actually bought this album in Eilat's boardwalk after hearing it in a kiosk). Another example is Adir Ran's Ata Kadosh, which only crossed the Atlantic because it was featured in Ushpizin. If not for that, we would never hear it. Those who say Levine's Vezakeini is the best hit in the last couple years are terribly mistaken - Vezakeini doesn't comes to the heels of Ata Kadosh, Ana Bekoach, two songs that should be in everyone's top list. Although Vezakeini is a nice song, it's "more of the same", while the these two songs are new, creative and original. But let me come back to my original point.

In that context, you have Shuli Rand's debut album, which sounds different than anything you've heard until now. Rand composed all the music and lyrics of this album, and his work was acclaimed by the secular critics in Israel. I didn't hear the whole album yet, but I can already say one thing: it's weird and original. Rand's voice is very very raw, that is, he never took a singing lesson in his life. But that doesn't means he's unable to do great music. Take Adi Ran, as an example, his voice is BAD (after you see the link you'll agree), but somehow it's really enjoyable to hear him singing Ata Kadosh, a world-class song. Like Adi Ran, Shuli Rand is a Breslov Chassid and his lyrics are pretty much stories linked to the Breslov movement - he wisely didn't go for the usual yeshivish lyrics (Hamalach, Achienu, Mi Von Siach and all). And what's most important, everyone can understand his Hebrew lyrics (laafukei Lipa).

Aside from the musical side of this album, I must note Rand has a special PR talent. Somethings I see out there make me think "I could've done that too", but to jump in a pool, with your whole beketshe, shabbos hat and guitar in order to come up with a cool album jacket, that's just brilliant. How did he come up with that? That's how an album cover is supposed to be - COOL. A cover with a violin, or a clock, or just with the singer name in font size #64 it's just not cool.

I'll come up with a review soon, even though I know none of this blog's readers will ever buy Rand's album. But just because Rand's album will never reach the US, that doesn't mean he is worth nothing; actually, the opposite is true.

Where the Hell is YK? Here! (Don't forget to zoom out first)


JoeFlix said...

Hey YK - This is a fresh happy post !

Now my three cents:

- Ana Bacho'ach is not Shai Barak's but Ovadya Chamama's. Correct me if Im wrong.

- I did hear Ana Be'Choach in America from Lipa Schmeltzer on Yochi Briskman's "Next Project X" -a dance mix.

- Speaking of Breslov influence on Israeli music, think also of Yitzchak Fuchs and the super-duper Udi Davidi. (How come you never write about him? )

met zeit said...

you can't compare vezakeini and ata kadosh - it's two completely different styles. B levine and adi ran are like apples and oranges, so I don't think its a fair comparison.

Otherwise, interesting post, specially the pics.

YK said...


1) It's funny you say that, I also thought it was Ovadia Chamama (in my iTunes it's written his name) but I asked a friend and he said it from Shai Barak. I will find out

2) I bought Lipa's New Project X (it's not Yiddish..) a while ago but I don't see this song in my library... :(

3) Sorry but I never heard of Fuchs nor Davidi...

btw, I responded to your comment in the other post. sorry for the lateness


YK said...

Met Zeit,

I don't get your point - I never said they were the same. Precisely because of their difference I am able to choose one over another, according to my musical taste. Ata Kadosh is better.


JoeFlix said...


Oy vay, youre SO missing out. Not on Fuchs but on Davidi

Do yourself a favor buy Davidi's "Lekol Zman". If youre not dancing, crying, and singing along let me know and I'm sending you a check!

JoeFlix said...


Lipa has 3 project X's. Im talking about #3, from last year.

YK said...

That's the one I have. For some reason I don't have it in my library :(


Anonymous said...

Album cover reminds me of Nirvana's Nevermind (1991)- though obviously its a far more uplifting message. While Nirvana's seemed to imply the inevitability of being born into consumerism in America, Rand's message, to me at least, is that one can be consumed by the outside world and still maintain their focus (their dress, music, etc.), hence his chasing nothing, wearing clothing, and bringing his possessions with him.
Just my two cents.

YK said...


You are right on! See this video, Rand had what you said in mind!!!



Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


YK said...


tks! I recently scaled down my action in this blog in favor to my other blog of safrut... i hope u enjoy what i have here but it's more for reference purposes now.


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I think after compulsory army service, Rand embarked on a career in theater where he relinquished Orthodoxy. He attended the exclusive Nissan Nativ Acting Studio in Tel Aviv and became a successful theatrical actor.