[Ed.'s Note: Roger Bennett and Josh Kun are the masterminds behind the amazing Jews on Vinyl project, where they have digged deep to retell the history of Jewish recorded music from the 1940s to the 1980s. Their projects include a blog, a book and a traveling museum exhibit which is coming to LA's Skirball Cultural Center on May 12 and will be there until September 5. Next Tuesday, May 11th, at 8 pm Kun and President of MySpace Music Courtney Holt will present “a one-of-a-kind slideshow of LP covers, plus rare musical clips.” The exhibit will be free and open to lecture attendees form 6 to 8. To celebrate this exhibit and the talk, Kun and Bennett are guest-blogging for West Coast Sound, sharing covers and stories from their great archive of greatest moments (and some strangest moments) of the Great Jewish LP era.]

Sol Zim is the original star of David.

A descendant of five generations of cantors, his artistry, fearless innovation, and prodigious output have left an indelible mark on the Jewish musical landscape and given it some of its most spectacular album covers. Zim has had a chameleonic career recording in a number of guises, as a solo artist, with his brother, and his own sons.

A brief dalliance with United Artists saw him adopt the moniker Sebastian Zim, but his first and true love has been cantorial music. He has revolutionized the form with his inventiveness and antiphonal singing. “I created arrangements you have heard so often in synagogue, you think they were given at Sinai” he once said. “They did not. I wrote them.”

Zim is a wild man on stage, taking his cues from Tom Jones and KISS amongst others. At a recent Idelsohn show in New York, female undergarments were thrown on stage. Our favorite album of his is David Superstar, recorded live at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center. A scintillating package of rock and roll reinvention, fusing cantorial sound with pop. Zim was always one step ahead as he explained in his liner notes: through “the ROCK MEDIA our young generation can be reached en masse.”

–Josh Kun and Roger Bennett

Sol in full Tom Jones-ish hunk mode in 1968

Sol in full Tom Jones-ish hunk mode in 1968

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