I´ve been curious about the identity of Maya for a long while. Time after time, I searched the Internet for information about this particular German release, but despite some sellers offering it on Ebay, I couldn´t find anything. Finally one day, I used another combination of words in the search, and it turns out Maya is actually Maya Casabianca.
Born Margalit Azran, in Casablanca, Morocco, Maya Casabianca moved to Paris with her family in the late 1950s. In 1970, she immigrated to Haifa, Israel. From the early to mid-1960s, Casabianca recorded dozens of records for Philips.
Choosing the stage name Casabianca, Philips probably tried to model Maya´s career after the success of Dalida, who was originally from Egypt. Her two German songs, described as Maroc-Twist, also exploited her arabic background. Orangen aus Marokko, co-written and backed by Henry Mayer and his orchestra, is about sweet oranges from Morocco, still a luxury in post-war-germany of the early 1960s. Ali Baba is about the fairy-tale robber. For some reason, Maya Casabianca was shortened to Maya, and the sleeve, that I found Online elsewhere, doesn´t show her, but just a model.
Anyway, it´s a shame, that these two songs have not been re-issued in 50 years. They should have been hits…
Today, Maya Casabianca still lives in Israel. Here, she is shown in a recent Israeli TV-documentary:
In October 2009 I spent two weeks in Cyprus together with the staff of Jungle World. Each year Jungle World goes to another country to produce an issue about the country while we stay there. This year it was Cyprus. I wrote my column that week about my record digging in Cyprus and also contacted local cartoonists to include in our Cyprus issue. We had a lot of fun and spent a great time on the island.
This record I found in a little thrift store that I stumbled upon when I was taking a walk in the area where we stayed. Pretty much a residential area right by the sea. It was off-season and I was surprised that the store was open at all. I bought this record because of the cartoon sleeve. I don´t know anything about it, besides that it is from Israel.
Last weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Cyprus is still divided into a Turkish and a Greek area. Israel has a wall that separates the Palestinians and the Israelis. So in a strange way this is my contribution to the fall of the wall – to the fall of all walls.
The female singer is singing two really nice songs in Hebrew. I bet somebody out there knows who she is and can translate the titles of the songs. Please, does anybody know?
Update Sept 23, 2010: Close to a year after I posted this, reader Tam just sent in this solution:
This record seems to be an early 60′s commercial gift from a company named „Chetz“ which apparently was a representative company for various insurance companies. The songs kinda glorify the company like a never ending radio jingle. Pretty funny!
God knows how this esoteric record found its way to Cyprus.
The main interesting value is the fact the songs are performed by Elisa Gabbai, a great and almost forgotten Israeli singer, who had her 15 minutes of glory in Germany in the 60′s
Here’s the same song in Hebrew:
Hope I poured some light over this little mystery.
Thanks Tam, you did indeed!
Chuckamuck are real teenagers who aspire to become the German Black Lips. They write beautiful songs, a couple of them even in German and their set was full of energy. Even the sloppiness looked staged. Great band! Their teenage fans danced like crazy until the set of speakers fell down. So the Black Lips reference is not really that far-fetched. Check for yourself how great they really are here. Their last Cd was produced by King Khan. Chuckamuck seemed like a tough act to follow…
By coincidence I had met the boys and girls of Charlie Megira & The Modern Dance Club the previous night hanging out at a bar in Kreuzberg, where Frank and I had been Dj-ing. They dug our records, gave us some self-made Modern Dance Club lighters and buttons and seemed to enjoy being in Berlin. From their appearance I had expected a more artistic or traditional 60`s/70`s sound but Charlie Megira & the Modern Dance Club completely surprised me with their TOTALLY WILD, LOUD and RAW sound. The gang from Jaffa/Tel Aviv stormed though a set of AGGRESSIVE, BLAZING-HOT ROCK`N`ROLL NOISE!!!. Even their Surf instrumentals were top notch and not a tad too musical or retro. They were SMOKIN`!!!
I made this page about the West Germany show that will appear next week in Ox-Fanzine:
Some more photos that I made of Charlie Megira & The Modern Dance Club:
And some more of Chuckamuck: