1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Suthrn Cuzn: Wrong Place, Wrong Time (1987)

Suthrn Cuzn's Kiss'n Cuzns album (Clubbo Records)

SOUTHERN ROCK was a decade out of fashion when Suthrn Cuzn swaggered onstage for the first time. But bantam-sized, barrel-chested frontman Mordy Madovitz discharged his testosterone-sodden anthems with such conviction that Clubbo was persuaded the time was ripe for a revival.

They were wrong, of course. The group’s 1987 Kiss’n Cuzns album went largely unnoticed, except in a few tertiary markets such as Maine and Idaho, where the raunchy lyrics of the “Sonofabitch” single got the song banned by local radio.

Looking back, two things about Suthrn Cuzn continue to fascinate us: The fact that they kick Dixie-rock ass, and the far-less-obvious fact that they’re not from the South. Or even from America.


“Flyin’ High”

DJ Hellvetica’s 1992 remix, “SOB NRG”

Suthrn Cuzn lyrics and credits


How’s this for a foolproof barroom bet?

“Name the home state of the Dixie-fried boogie band Suthrn Cuzn.”

Alabama, some will say. Mississippi, Georgia, and Arkansas will rack up some votes, while sly participants angling for a dark-horse victory might offer Florida, Texas, or Tennessee.

“They’re not from a southern state,” you’ll calmly reply as you collect your greenbacks and victory shots of Blue Ridge Bristleback. “They’re from an eastern state. Middle Eastern, actually.”

Yes, the redneck rockers responsible for such twang-injected tunes as “Sonofabitch,” “Hello Trouble,” and “Dirty Macon Momma” hailed from Israel. And not even southern Israel, but the northern seaside town of Haifa.

It isn’t clear if this fact was widely known among the hundreds of fans who bought Suthrn Cuzn’s sole Clubbo release, 1987’s Kiss’n Cuzns. In fact, it’s easy to imagine being misled by the swaggering guitar solos, cocksure lyrical stance, and all-around Cotton Belt credibility of frontman/bandleader Mordechai “Mordy” Madovitz.

Young Madovitz served with distinction in the Israeli armed forces — so much so that he was dispatched overseas as a tactical liaison to the U.S. Army. It was while stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, in the late ’70s that Mordy commenced his lifelong love affair with southern culture, from boogie-rock to BBQ. By the time the decommissioned junior officer returned to Haifa, he was ready to swap his Uzi for a top-of-the-line Peavey guitar.

Unfortunately, by the time Mordy had schooled several ex-army buddies in the intricacies of southern rock, the style had long since retreated to the sidelines of musical fashion. But Madovitz believed that long guitar solos and testosterone-fueled sentiments were due for a rebound, and Clubbo chief Bas Carlton gambled on his vision. The mere fact that both men were 100% wrong doesn’t dull the impact of Suthrn Cuzn’s trademark twin-guitar attack.

Suthrn Cuzn frontman Mordy Madovitz (Clubbo Records)

“That’s funny — you don’t look Southern.” Mordy Madovitz in 1987.

The making of Kiss’n Cuzns was as full of strife as the regions that inspired the album. Suthrn Cuzn actually commenced the project with three guitarists: Mordy, Aryeh Spiedowski (a.k.a. R.E.A. Speed-Demon), and Tim McGee, the band’s sole gentile.

But just as the album neared completion, McGee, an evangelical Christian from the Denton, Texas-based Hasten Thou Yeshua sect, bailed on the band in order to assume the pastorship of his home church. Furious at Tim’s untimely departure, Mordy insisted on rerecording everything, overtaxing the production budget and aggravating tensions within the band.

A newly rediscovered version of Suthrn Cuzn’s power anthem “Flyin’ High,” featuring McGee on lead guitar, offers a tantalizing taste of what might have been — not to mention an object lesson for our troubled times. Just as three great religions can simultaneously pursue their own visions of holiness atop the dusty hills of Jerusalem, so too can three great guitarists simultaneously pursue their own pentatonic blues-rock licks atop a dusty E-minor chord progression.

Kiss’n Cuzns arrived many days late and many dollars short. The album’s sparse liner notes disclose nary a hint of the band’s geographical origins. Hoping that the Israeli angle might win media attention after the overlooked debut, Clubbo’s Carlton persuaded the group to pose wearing yarmulkes for the cover of the planned follow-up, Mason Ben-Dixon.

But sadly, that album was never to be completed. Mordy became increasingly absorbed in Israeli politics, standing for Parliament as a member of a far-right splinter party. These extra-musical excursions contributed to the group’s 1989 dissolution, as the remainder of the band were Labor Party supporters and the bassist was a member of a prominent mainstream political family.

At last report, Mordy resided in disputed West Bank territory, where he operated a fried chicken shack and offered beginning guitar lessons.

DJ Helvetica (Clubbo Records)

Swiss Mix: DJ Hellvetica spins at Clubbo’s 1995 35th anniversary party.

Ironically, Suthrn Cuzn scored its biggest international success several years after disbanding. In 1992, Zurich-based remixer DJ Hellvetica retooled “Sonofabitch” as a Hi-NRG track, securing a minor club hit in Switzerland and the Benelux countries.

Hellvetica’s real name, by the way, is Johann Langenthal — and yes, he is the son of Ava Langenthal of Ava & the Avalanches, one of Clubbo’s original Swiss Invasion bands.

Who could have imagined back in the ’60s that the blonde kitten purring “Ski Baby Ski” would one day produce a son who would make his name with a Euro version of a southern rock track by a band from the Middle East? Sonofabitch!

(Please note: We’re not calling DJ Hellvetica an S.O.B., or implying that his mom’s a bitch or anything. Ava Langenthal is a real nice lady, and she makes a killer fondue!)




“Flyin’ High”