VARIOUS ARTISTS 60 Shana Veshir (NMC United) Keeping in tune with Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations, the NMC record label recently released a three-disc box set of popular songs. The assortment includes one hit from each year of the country's existence. As such, the compilation kicks off with "Ha'amini Yom Yavo," sung by Yaffa Yarkoni in 1948, and ends with Kobi Aflalo's 2007 hit, "Ba Min Hashtika." Along the way, Chava Alberstein, Arik Einstein, David Broza, Etti Ankri, Ofra Haza, Gali Atari, Meir Banai, Ahinoam Nini and Dana Berger, among many others, contribute their best songs. The album depicts the mosaic and history of Israeli music. The first disc (from 1948-1970) boasts songs defined as "Songs of the Land of Israel." These tunes are almost universally in minor keys with lyrics that relate to the Israeli experience. The second disc in this anthology runs from the years 1971-1988. After the 1967 war, the country's music scene opened up to the rest of the world. "Land of Israel" songs began to incorporate elements of rock and jazz tunes. From Matti Caspi's "Yalduti Hashniya" to Tislam's "Lirot Ota Hayom," musicians during this period mixed traditional instruments (flute, recorder, darbuka and acoustic guitar) with electric guitars and synthesizers. Disc three runs from 1989 to 2007. This last installment includes an even wider range of musical styles. In addition to rock and pop, many of the songs mix electronic sounds, dance music, world music, rap and hip hop with traditional songs. Overall, this album is a great summary of 60 years of popular Hebrew music. YEHONATAN GEFEN The Best Of (NMC United) Another anthology to hit the record store shelves is that of Yehonatan Gefen. The three-CD set includes 40 songs and 19 skits from musical shows he performed over the years. The popular author/lyricist/novelist/journalist/poet has made an indelible mark on the country's culture scene. As such, NMC chose to include Gefen in its popular "Best Of" series, which has already spotlighted the likes of Shalom Hanoch, Arik Lavi, Nurit Galron and Meir Ariel. It is difficult not to sing along with Gefen's lyrics. The song list includes "Hanasich Hakatan," "Ophelia," "Yihiye Tov," "Hayalda Hachi Yaffa Bagan" and "Nad Ned," just to name a few. Actually, it was his works for children, with catchy tunes and unfussy lyrics, that really brought him success. The song "Hayalda Hachi Yaffa Bagan" (The Prettiest Girl in Kindergarten) off of the 1978 album The 16th Sheep, which was sung by Yehudit Ravitz, has remained a favorite throughout the years. Gefen is also popular for his collaborations with David Broza - and this album includes five of their songs, including "Daniela" and "Ha'isha Sheeti." Gefen's son, rocker Aviv Gefen, also performs one song on the album, "Geshem Kaved Omed Lipol." The third disc of the album comprises satirical sketches written and performed by Gefen over the years. Gefen confronts Israeli society's troubles and harsh realities. For example, in "Shir Hayoreh" with Danny Litani, Gefen describes the aggressive, know-it-all, stereotypical Israeli who shoots at whoever thinks differently from him. Overall, Gefen's contribution to the local music scene is vast and this box set adequately recaps his output.