Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Miami Alumni

Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music.com

Reviewer: Chanie

I really wanted to review the Alumni album before Pesach, but just didn't have the time. I did listen to it then, and take some notes. So now I will write the review based on that and whatever else I remember. I listened to it enough times before Pesach, that I practically know it by heart.

General stuff about the album: It's the long awaited Alumni album...they were first introduced at one of the Prevail concerts, or maybe it was even before that. I really don't remember. I know I was definitely at that concert, but I wasn't such an avid fan and didn't take much notice of them. They had a fifth member back then, Michoel Pruzansky, who has since come out with his own solo album. The four members were all in the choir around the same time, Min Hashomayim, One By one, Simcha Song era....Menachem and Eric were also on Light up the Nights. I think that the names of the members should have been written on the cover, and some mention made that they are MIAMI alumni. That way, people will recognize them from Miami, if they haven't heard of them otherwise. They are barely mentioned on the inside of the cover.

After seeing and hearing this album, I must say that I am reaalllly impressed by Menachem Klein's talent. He composed six of the songs AND did all the musical arrangements for the album. If there's anyone that is qualified to take over for Yerachmiel when he retires, it's Menachem. ;) Now, I'll try to describe the voices of the different guys. Menachem Klein has the high pitched, sweet voice and he starts off a good portion of the songs, besides for the first two which Moshe starts off. Eric Stern has the deepish, rich voice. I think his is the most distinctive of the four. I can't really describe Dovie Friedman's voice, but I will point out a couple of his solos if you want to get to know his voice. Moshe Teich has a very low voice and he does an amazing job with lots of the low parts. So that's that for the voices. I love the way they blend when they sing all together. Now onto the songs.

1. V'haviaynu. Composed by Menachem Klein
This song was first aired on JM in the AM a couple of weeks before it was released, so I was sort of bored with it by the time I got the cd. It's a great, fast song, but nothing spectacular. Some of the later fast songs are much better IMHO. Moshe starts it off. Then goes Menachem, Dovie and Eric. The ending is a bit strange with different things being sung all at once, and I don't really like it. Otherwise this is a catchy song to start things off with.

2. Tzidkascha. Composed by Menachem Klein.
Now, this is a terrific, fast song! It starts out with a cool musical intro. Drums and piano and it sounds reaally great. Moshe starts it off and Dovie comes in next. Eric does some really good harmony at the end. One of my favorite fast songs, not much more to say about it.

3. Mi Adir. Composed by Menachem Klein
Menachem composed this for his wife, for their wedding, I think. It's a really beautiful slow song which Menachem starts off. Moshe does the second low and Menachem takes over for the high part. The low part is a little boring and a little too low for my taste, but the high part is realllyy great! Towards the middle of the song, Menachem does really good background harmony.

4. Ani Maamin. Composed by Yerachmiel Begun
Now this is one rocking fast song! It was first sung at the New Generation concert on Sukkos and I haven't tired of it since. I don't know why a song like this wasn't put at Track one...

5. Kol Haoalm. Composed by Yerachmiel Begun
Menachem starts this one off again. The low part is veeerrry low and Menachem's voice sorta cracks at one point. It's a very typical slow song, but beautiful nonetheless.

6. Nachon Composed by Menachem Klein
Catchy, fast song with a really good into. Sorry, I must be getting a bit repetitive. Every song is catchy and great! But, it truly is fantastic album! In the middle of the song, Eric sings a bit with a Sefardi accent. I don't know what that's about, but it does sound pretty cool.

7. The Promise. Composed and lyrics by Menachem Klein
AHhhhh, this is definitely my favorite song on the album!! And it certainly showcases Menachem's talent. The tune is beautiful and haunting, and the lyrics are one of a kind. This is dedicated to Menachem's son, Yonatan, and is about raising children, promising to give them love, strength so they can maximize thier potential. Menachem sings the majority of the song. The second stanza after the chorus is sung one octave higher and it sounds awesome! Eric does the second chorus. Shaul Elson, Miami's star soloist does the next chorus. This kid has a beautiful voice and it's great that he gets to sing on this album. Usually, Miami kids aren't allowed to sing for anyone else, but of course since this is also Yerachmiel's project, they borrowed him. ;) The end of this song is Y'simcha Elokim... Absolutely stunning song!! I was hoping they would sing this at the concert, with Shaul Elson coming out to solo...but they didn't Oh well, there's always the next concert.

8. Hamavdil Composed by Eliezer Begun
Now this is one awesome song composed by Yerachmiel's second son! Talent sure does run in the family. Mindy says that this kid is thirteen, I am very impressed that such a young kid can compose such a great hit! Menachem starts it off. They sang this at the concert, and it was sooooo good. If this wasn't my favorite fast song before the conceert, it sure is now!

9. Bou. Composed by Chananya Moshe Begun
Another Begun kid with talent, I think this is the oldest boy. Nice slow song. Menachem starts it off once again.

10. Ilu. Composed by Menachem Klein
An old favorite of the Alumni. It's a great fast song that Menachem composed while learning in Israel, on a Gemara that he had studied. This recording sounds almost identical to the one on the Miami 25 video. There are some harmonies added in and some other shtik. But otherwise it's exactly the same, so I have a feeling it's the same recording and they just added some stuff in to make it new.

So there it is, my review of the Alumni album. To summarize...almost every single song is a hit and the voices and harmonies are fantastic. If you don't have this one already go out and buy it so you can listen after Sefira. I hope the Alumni will continue as a group and come out with some more albums.

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