It’s a rare musician or band that can create a sound that can be considered unique, but Steve Lieberman, AKA The Gangsta Rabbi, has spent his whole life on that exact quest. His 25th solo album is the perfect example of that quest for a distinctive, one-of-a-kind style as he completely revamps The Who’s sixth album and 2nd rock opera, Quadrophenia.
Rarely has there ever been a cover as distinctly different and personally identifiable as The Gangsta Rabbi’s version of Quadrophenia. Those of you familiar with The Who’s 1973 album should not step lightly into The Gangsta Rabbi’s world expecting standard covers of that revolutionary album. In fact, while there are quite a few elements of the original album retained in The Gangsta Rabbi’s newest release, one of my favorite things about this release is that you may have to work kind of hard to recognize the original elements. The Gangsta Rabbi isn’t trying to cover the album in The Who’s style. He’s doing it with his own brand of Brit-ish punk vocals and rhythms fused with elements of experimental jazz and marching band, so you can listen to this album as its own experience, separate from the original. The Gangsta Rabbi is replaying the album through his own mind’s eye.
Covering an iconic band like The Who is never an easy task and doing it in your own style takes vision and tenacity, but The Gangsta Rabbi is up to the challenge. He’s come up against a number of challenges in his life, and his original music is already admittedly skewed to the outside edges of musical experiences, sometimes bordering on mania and genius at the same time. His life-long struggle with bipolar disorder meant that from a very young age, Lieberman heard things differently than the majority of people and had to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in music in order to express his own unique way of experiencing life. He learned to play multiple instruments so that he could create those sounds in his mind and soul and share them with the world, and he plays all the instruments on this version of Quadrophenia.
His love of music became quite the obsession over the years, and he has spent countless hours perfecting his off-beat, low-fi distortion and experimental fusion. What some people will hear as out of tune “noise”, I can hear as directed, well-timed, and purposeful expressions of some uncomfortable emotions, and Lieberman’s choice to cover this particular album is a solid match up in my book. Those music lovers who enjoy delving into the deepest, darkest parts of their psyche will be fascinated by The Gangsta Rabbi and Quadrophenia.
You can follow The Gangsta Rabbi and his story at the links below!
The Gangsta Rabbi has been dealt a terminal case of leukemia in recent years, with “Quadrophenia” possibly being one of his final musical creations. Through it all, he has produced more than 25 CD’s and almost 40 cassettes and has opened for such acts as Weezer, Andrew WK, Glassjaw, Ryan Dunn and the Misfits before retiring from performing in December 2011 to battle accelerated phase bone marrow cancer. Even through this deathly illness, he has continued to write, play, and record music. Sometimes, he continues on even to the detriment of his health and his instruments, but he just can’t seem to help this desire to keep creating.
* This fellow artist is supporting our local scene right here in and around Dayton! Go check out their music! If you would like to help support this page and our local scene, contact Kimberly Weiss at DaytonMC@Live.com!