Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Best of the Best

Artist’s web site: Gideon Levine.com

Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music.com

Reviewer: Mindy

As you probably know, my two favorite genres of music are group acts and All-Star albums. Therefore I was very excited when I heard that a new Best of the Best album was in the works. When I finally got mine, I was impatient and hungry, having heard so many clips of it on the radio and Internet. This album features the very top stars in JM. I mean, can you imagine a concert with the following performers participating? MBD, Dedi, Yeedle, Shlomo Simcha, Wald, Dachs, Williger, Shwekey, Yossie Rose, Lipa Shmeltzer, Mendy Jerufi, and a new star Dovid Gabay?? That’s exactly what you’re getting with the Best of the Best II. This is just too exciting, an album with all of these singers on it.

I won’t be talking about the Child Life Society connection since that’s been discussed numerous times here and on the radio. I’ll rather just tell you about the songs and how I rate them.

First of all the CD insert is pretty nifty. Each page has a picture of the singer who’s featured on the song, and a lot of interesting information on how the song came to be matched up to that particular singer, as well as a little note from Gideon to the singer and a note back to Gideon. I must say, that every song was a perfect shidduch. I was amazed at how well the song and singer was paired up in each instance. Each song starts out with Gideon singing the first half and then him ‘hosting’ the singer in the second part of the song.

The inside of the jewel case features Gideon standing up surrounded by little circles of the Best of the Best crew in pictures. This new guy Gabay is really cute ;). Dachs looks terrible, Rose looks bad, and Shwekey doesn’t look too good either. Lipa Shmeltzer looks great. It’s very neato. Also, the first page of the insert shows the choir guys in a faded photo. I was thrilled to be able to see the faces of two choir guys I always wanted to see – now I see them. lol. There’s also a faded picture of Moshe Laufer conducting a music session.

Ok – here goes my analysis of the songs…

1. Shir Ushvacha, sung by Shloime Dachs. I’m sorry to say, but I don’t like this song too much :(. It’s as typical as you can get; this could’ve been picked off any Shloime Dachs album or any other JM album. I don’t know why this was the opener. Gideon said on the air that he wanted to start the album with a song giving praise to HaShem. All is fine and dandy, but it’s not a fantastic song. At 1:18 Shloime comes into the song, and he does a good job, as Shloime always does. I rate this song only a 5.

2. Habeit, sung by MBD. Now, that’s a song! This is my second favorite slow song on the album. It is sung full of heartz and gefeel, as MBD always does. Another perfect matchup between singer and song. Gideon writes in the insert that he composed this song at a point when he was really touched by all the horrible happenings in Israel. MBD recorded it on May 27, 2002, a day when we learned that a grandmother and a granddaughter had been killed in a terrorist attack. You can definitely hear in MBD’s voice that it is an emotion-laden time.He comes in to the song approximately 2 minutes into the song. It ends off with Gideon shouting “Oy, Ribono Shel Olam!” in a heartfelt plea. It’s really a moving, beautiful song. This song is so good I rate it a full 10.

3. Ein Kol Etzev, sung by Yeedle. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it on Kobi Selah’s Mitzad program on the Internet quite a few weeks ago. It was composed by Eli, Gideon’s son, “in the spirit of his generation”, as Gideon writes. Indeed, it is the most ‘modern’ and contemporary song on the album. I just love it. I don’t know how to classify this, since I always get my terms wrong, but I think it’s a hora song. The music is great, and the choir did some excellent work on this one. Yeedle sounds perfectly excellent, and it’s a true foot-tapping number. Rate it another full 10.

4. Al Tiktzoif, sung by Yaakov Shwekey. This song wins my favorite spot on the CD. It’s such a gorgeous piece. Shwekey comes in at about 4 minutes into the song (it’s a 7 minute song). The raw emotion and pure feeling Yaakov Shwekey puts into his singing delivery is palpable. I can already hear this song being sung at weddings all over. The words and the tune are so powerful, that I literally cry every time Shwekey sings it!!! I’ve never heard anything more beautiful and moving. This song gets a resounding 11!

5. Boee B’Shalom, sung by Yisroel Williger. This is supposed to be a “Carlebach-style” song. Well, it is kind of guitarsy, and Williger is known for his Carlebach Shabbos impersonations, but I can’t see R’ Shlomo Carlebach really singing this song. But it’s nice and kumzitzy and typical Williger style. I’ll rate this a 7.

6. V’yeda, sung by Mendy Wald. Mendy calls this song a “waltz”, and I’m glad he did, because I wouldn’t know how to classify it. I has a very cool accordion intro. Gideon says he composed this on Rosh Hashana 5762, and ironically, Mendy recorded this on Erev Rosh Hashana 5763. I have to say something about Mendy Wald. I am slowly becoming a big fan of his. He has a gorgeous voice, I only dislike solo albums too much to ever really get into Wald. Then I saw him perform this Chol HaMoed Succos in the Miami concert, and boy does he have a stage presence! Anyway, he does this song true justice; I can feel the heart and feeling in his voice in this song. He does the high part really well. He comes into the song at 3 minutes into the song. It’s a really beautiful song, and it rates among my second level of favorites on the cd. It’s a truly haunting, meaningful song. I’ll rate it a 9.

7. Mikdash Melech, sung by Dedi. Now this is a funny number. Gideon writes in the insert that he composed this TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO! Can you believe that??? It took 25 years for this song to appear on a CD! Whoa! The tune itself is as typical JM as possible, but it’s spiced up really creatively to make this the cutest song on the cd. It starts off with Gideon saying, “Dedi, are you ready?” Dedi answers, “I’m ready!” Then Gideon asks, “Guys, are you ready?” The choir responds, “We’re ready!” Says Gideon, “Then let’s do Mikdash Melech! A one, two, and a three!” And he sings, “Mikdash Melech, Mikdash Melech, Ir Melucha – you answer!” and the choir answers “Ir Melucha”… Then Gideon continues, “Kumi Tz’i, Kumi tz’i, you sing!” and the choir sings, “Mitoch Hahafecho.” Gideon calls out, “C’mon guys!” and the music starts getting really lebedig with a heavy metal guitar interlude. It’s really cute. What could’ve been a plain, nondescript song ends up being a lively and innovative song. Dedi comes in at 2 ½ minutes into the song. With his inimitable high pitched voice and fervor he does an excellent job on the song. I’ll rate it an 8.

8. Eishes Chayil, sung by Yossie Rose. This song was composed by Eli Levine. It’s nice, but I’m not crazy over it. It’s another slow song, six minutes long. There’s nothing specific about it to merit special mention, except that Yossie has a great voice and a high range and can hit very high notes impeccably. He comes in to the song at 2 ½ minutes, and does an amazing job, especially with the high parts. Nice song; earns a 7.

9. Tzur Chayeinu, sung by Lipa Shmeltzer. Now, this is interesting. The song is a chassidishe style song. Gideon even says that in the insert. This song could’ve been on any Camp Shalva, Belz, Viznitz, or Nadvorne tape. It’s a nice lebedig freilach style song. And he made the perfect choice by having Lipa sing it. However, my peeve with this song is that I feel Lipa should’ve sung it in his chassidishe accent. It loses it’s uniqueness by having Lipa adapt to the Litvishe havara. It would’ve made the album all the more interesting by adding a bona fide chassidishe song to the mix. This way, it’s a chassidish sounding song with a chassidishe singer, but the song is not sung with the chassidishe pronounciation. However, this does not take away from the beauty of the song. Lipa does a superb job. I love his voice. He looks all “tzifired” on the pic in the insert, and he even says “lebedig” during the song. Gideon writes in the insert that Lipa recorded it all in one take, and Lipa wrote a very cute poem as his signature. After all, he is a badchin! In any event, this song rates a 7.

10. Shir Hamaalois, sung by Dovid Gabay. This is another waltz-like song. It is composed by Eli Levine. Now let me tell you something. I have never heard the name Dovid Gabay in my life. I have to admit that he is very cute ;). In the picture he looks like a sweet and serious yungerman. lol. But when I heard his voice I was totally blown away. His voice is a cross between MBD, Wald, and Shwekey. Its deepish like Wald’s, but clear like MBD’s and heartzig like Shwekey’s. While I was listening to him sing this song, I kept thinking that I was hearing MBD, then I thought it was Shwekey, and then I thought it was Mendy Wald. He sings with a lot of heart and feeling, and I think this guy has a future. The words in this song are also very meaningful, and I like it a lot. This song is in my second level of favorites on the cd. I’ll rate it a 9.

11. Kol Mitzhalos, sung by Mendy Jerufi. This is a great lively hora song. The guys in the choir probably had a lot of fun shouting out “HORA!” and another word that sounds like “HUSS!” to me. Mendy has a great voice and he does this hora song true justice. However, I definitely get the feeling during the low part of the song, that I’ve heard this somewhere. There is an Israeli singer, I think Motti Zingboim, who has a song with the same words and an almost-identical tune. But the song itself is great and I like it a lot, and Mendy Jerufi does an excellent job singing it. The music is also excellent on it, and the choir’s chants add to it a lot. It sounds like a real old-time wedding hora song. It’s also in my second level of favorites, and I’ll rate it a 9.

12. Bai Ana, sung by Shlomo Simcha. WHAT A SONG!! According to Gideon’s words on the insert, it’s a three-part composition; cantorial, soulful, and joyous, and he needed Cantor to sing it. Shlomo Simcha – wow. It’s the only song on the album that is started by the singer instead of by Gideon. And what a voice, what a range, what a delivery. This guy is amazing. He first does some great chazanus which the backup choir complements beautifully. Then he does the heartzig part of the song and later the lively part – what a versatile performer! He can do three different styles in one song! That’s not stam! Anyhow this song get a 9.5.

So, all in all, it’s a great cd. If I add up my ratings, it amounts to 101.5 out of 120. Pretty good score, eh? I love All-Star CD’s; the lineup is great, the songs are great; it’s a great cd! AND part of the proceeds are for a worthy cause; so what are you all waiting for? Go out and buy one! Today! :)

Comments on this review can be left below.


Blogger Isi said...

I love the song "Habeit" but I can't find the lyrics. Do you know where to find them?

March 18, 2008 at 3:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home