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AWIL 287 - Vivi Lachs Fri, 2019-02-08 12:20

It’s surprising that more books haven’t been written about London’s musical history given that we live in a city which is such a creative hub. Hence, ‘Whitechapel Noise’ is special for many reasons, partly because books like this don’t come around often, nor are they always written by someone so passionate about the subject matter.

Author Vivi Lachs, speaks about Whitechapel Noise, not just with authority and pride, but also total glee, as a social and cultural historian that has breathed life into a dormant past. In her book, she focuses on a specific period in history between 1881 and 1914, when Jewish migration to London from Russia and Poland reached a  peak. The new arrivals were largely Yiddish speaking, bringing with them their language, customs, culture, and of course music, which soon seeped into music halls, theatres, and the very fabric of society around the East End. Vivi Lachs is not from this area but was instantly smitten by a cassette tape of songs about the capital, sung in Yiddish by a descendent of a 20th century migrant. As it happens, one thing led to another, and in Vivi’s case she started to sing the songs on stage – solo or with her bands Klezmer Klub and Katsha’nes – then she wrote a PhD about them, and now there’s the book, Whitechapel Noise!

Through the lyrics of the songs that Vivi has collected and translated, we are presented with a colourful, unique, and vivid  portrait of Edwardian London, the migrant experience of a persecuted community, and everyday life from Lambeth Walk to Victoria Park, as it was then, and to how London ‘sounds’ now. What’s not to love?

Also on this AWIL, fresh global music from around the planet, including new albums by Turkish rock star Umut Adan and French singer Lou Doillon.

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