Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Yedid (Yaakov Shwekey)



Artist’s web site: Shwekey.com

Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music.com

Reviewer: Mindy



Shwekey 3. Even if I don’t write this review, it will be the hottest seller of the year, purely by virtue of name recognition alone. How Yaakov Shwekey managed to beat out so many other newbies and wannabes and become the fastest rising JM star of the 21st century is fodder for another essay.

I loved Shwekey 1. Did not like Shwekey 2 at all. Was apprehensive about Shwekey 3. BH it didn’t disappoint; the good-to-nottoogood song ratio is about 70/30. I can sense some instant hits and we might yet be surprised with some sleeper hits. What’s ironic about the album is that I just don’t like much of Side A and LOVE almost everything on Side B! My favorite songs are Ben bag bag, Yedid, Moshiach, Shma Yisroel, Al Chomosayich, Im Eshkochech, and Yiru Eininu…

The best part of this album is Shwekey’s voice. It’s amazing. It’s stronger than ever, richer, and he sings with more heart and soul we’ve ever heard him, yet he doesn’t screech like he did at times on Shwekey 1.

I do not have the CD insert as I received an advance copy, so I don’t know any of the credits besides for the composers.

I adopted a different format for this review, as you shall see. I might just use this format for every review as it’s much easier and I don’t have to repeat myself with the same superlatives again and again. Enjoy!

~1~
Song : Hu Yiftach (Libeinu B’soroso)
Composed by: Moshe Laufer
My rating: 6.5
General: This will probably become a hit song just because it is the first song on the CD. It’s a regular lebedige song.
Positives: Shwekey puts a lot of heart even in this lebedige song, and ends on a very nigh note very beautifully.
Negatives: It’s not a very original song, and the arrangements are very typical. I didn’t like it at all at first listen, but it’s grown on me. Compared to Shomatee and Pisom, I’m surprised this got the first slot. There are better songs later in the CD. But I guess they didn’t ask for my opinion :D.

~2~
Song: V’harev (Nu HaShem Elokeinu etc)
Composed by: R’ Moshe Dovid Shwekey
My rating: 8
General: Slow, heartzige niggun with a lot of unbelievable Shwekey gefeel. Probably comparable to Av Harachamim and/or V’Na Al Tatzricheinu.
Positives: A lot of Shwekey heart. This will become the slow favorite for Shwekey die-hards. Not my personal favorite on the CD as far as the song goes, but the Shwekey gefeel is amazing. Beautiful falsetto ending.
Negatives: This song took a long time to grow on me. Once again, points off for unoriginal possuk and tune. The music is great but I have this distinct feeling of already having heard it already somewhere, especially the opening riffs. Anyone with me on this?

~3~
Song: Ben Bag Bag (omer, hafoch bo hafoch bo…)
Composed by: Pinky Weber
My rating: 7.5
General: An improvement over the first 2 songs; the cd begins to pick up a little. It’s a medium-fast song; faster than a hora yet not a real freilach. It’s a really fun song.
Positives: I like the tune a lot and the arrangements are really good. The middle part has a pseudo-middle eastern feel to it. The “bo bo bo” is very original. I can see this becoming a wedding hit. It’s an enjoyable song, easy to learn and fun to sing along.
Negatives: Somehow I keep thinking of Yisroel Williger’s song “hafoch bo hafoch bo” and trying to decide which one I like better. Also “ben bag ben ben bag bag omer omer” becomes a little cumbersome after a while and too tongue-twistery after a bit.

~4~
Song: Sameach Tesamach
Composed by: Yitzy Waldner
My rating: 5
General: If this was meant to top Meheira from the first album, it didn’t come within 200 yards of it. It’s a slow song with the words “Sameach Tesamach.” It will be loved by someone and disliked by others. I’m in the second category.
Positives: I guess the only positive thing about this song is Shwekey’s powerful voice and the gorgeous harmonies.
Negatives: I can’t bring myself to like it. I dislike slow wedding songs. Meheira was a rare exception. Also, the high part of the song reminds me very much of another song which I can’t place my finger on. Maybe someone out there can help me out.

~5~
Song: Yedid (it’s from gemara Menuchos: Yovo Yedid ben Yedid, Vivneh Yedid L’yedid, Bchelko shel yedid, vischapro bo yedid)
Composed by: Yossi Green
My rating: 9
General: Ahhh, now youre talking! Another Yossi Green hit. I love it. I can just see it become a wedding favorite Great hora style song with excellent arrangements.
Positives:. Points for extreme originality -- never heard the possuk in my life. Very catchy lyrics and great to sing along to. Great choir work too.
Negatives: It is a tongue twister, but a pleasant, easy one.

~6~
Song: Moshiach (B’sho she hakodosh boruch hu…)
Composed by: Pinky Weber
My rating: 10
General: I smelled a Pinky production way before I knew who composed this gorgeous song. From the first word I just knew I was in for a hit. This is my favorite slow song on the album. It starts with a little chazanus so it might be harder for wedding singers to do this song, although I think in chasidishe circles it will definitely be a hit. If youre a fan of the Pinky style, this song will catch you right away. It was one of those songs I loved at the first listen.
Positives: It’s just plain a gorgeous song. The words are original – I don’t think they’ve ever been used before, and it brings out the best in Shwekey’s voice. The song goes from slow chazanus to just slow hartzig to medium fast. It’s very original, very gorgeous, and a tear jerker if you like slow songs. I absolutely love it… Pinky+Shwekey can only = perfection. This song seriously doesn’t bore me and as I said before, is my fave slow song on the CD (besides the English song, which IS my favorite song on the album!) You can’t be bored for too long because it picks up tempo after a few minutes and then slows down again, so it’s always changing. The song is over before it begins – not too long at all.
Negative: If you don’t like chasidishe-style and chazanish-style songs, this one might rate low on your favorites chart. But not me!

~7~
Song: Rabbi Akiva (omar rabbi akiva)
Composed by: Eli Laufer
My rating: 7.5
General: Another hora song. Excellent, original arrangements. I especially love the piano.
Positives: It’s a cool song because it’s not what you’d expect from an Omar Rabbi Akiva song – it’s a heartzige hora, and I like the intro a lot.
Negatives: My favorite Omar Rabbi Akiva will always be Yossi Green’s version on Ohad’s tape. The tune of this one isn’t very original nor does it offer anything unusual or new.

~8~
Song: Shma Yisroel (English song)
Composed by: Tune: Yitzy Waldner. Lyrics: Bella Levitan/Abie Rottenberg. Child soloists: Ushi Briskman and Benny Rishty (yes, from MBC – he was on Shalsheles III as well, I didn’t know he was that good…)s
My rating: 11
General: Words will not suffice to express the effect this song had on me the first time I heard it. I was electrified. Tears were pouring down my face by the time the chorus came around. It tells the story of a mother (or father?) who gave his/her child to non Jewish neighbors for safekeeping through the war and when an askan came back to reclaim the child, the owners of the house refused to admit there was a Jew in the house, until the parent said “Shma Yisroel” which jogged the child’s memory. The tune is just stunning; it will stir your heart. The lyrics are great too; did you expect anything less from Abie?
Positives: As I said above, it’s just a stunning piece. It’s probably the hit of the entire album, although English songs tend not to be used much. I wonder if Shwekey will manage to sing this at any of his concerts, esp. this Succos – that would be a treat. It’s just amazing how Shwekey never wanted an English song on his tapes, until Abie heard him sing in Yiddish on Shwekey B’simcha, nabbed him for “Mama Rochel”, which became such a runaway hit that now Shwekey has a real English song on his new album… This song will make you cry and uplift you at the same time.

CHORUS: Shma, Shma Yisroel
Know that there is, but one G-d above
When you feel pain, when you rejoice,
Know how he longs to hear your voice
HaShem Elokeinu, HaShem Echad

Just a take-your-breath-away song.
Negatives: Can’t find a single negative thing to say…

~9~
Song: Al Chomotayich (Yerushalayim, hifkadeti shomrim etc.)
Composed by: Yossi Green
Rating: 11
General: It seems that Slot #9 has been reserved on Shwekey’s albums for the prerequisite Sefardi song. You liked Ki HaTov? Well get ready to get your socks knocked off – this song makes Ki HaTov sound like “Tzavei, Tzavei...” It’s Yossi Green at his middle-eastern best!
Positives: WOW… it’s an amazing song. It’ll have you bopping along from the first beat to the last. The choir must have had a ball singing, because they are very high spirited. The song is very original and so authentically Middle Eastern it’s hard to believe that a native of Williamsburg composed this :). Shwekeys’ voice takes on a Sefardi quality and it’s just a blast to sing along.
Negatives: Couldn’t find anything negative on this song :).

~10~
Song: Im Eshkochech (Yerushalayim)
Composed by: Yochanan Shapiro
My rating: 7
General: After such a fast paced song as Al Chomotayich, you need something serious to settle back down with. I like this song a lot.
Positives: Although the market is saturated with Im Eshkochechs, we can never have enough. If this is the Yochanan Shapiro of “Acheinu” fame, I’m glad he’s being picked up for more composing gigs. It’s a very nice song.
Negatives: The tune is very similar to Shloime Dachs’s Im Eshkochech.

~11~
Song: Yiree Ainainee
Composed by: R’ Moshe Dovid Shwekey
My rating: 8
General: The man of many hats sings an authentic chasidishe song. I never thought his brother could produce a song that sounds like it was a Wertzberger composition :). I don’t doubt for a second that this will become the next Chasidishe wedding hit.
Positives: It’s amazing to hear Shwekey sing like a born-and-bred Willy boy. What a true chameleon :). It’s a lebedige song and a real treat. It has all the inflections you might find on a Camp Shalva or an Eizik Honig tape.
Negatives: People who don’t care for chasidishe style songs might find this too typical.

Total Ratings: 90/110

In summary, Yaakov Shwekey is certainly deepening his mark on the JM scene with this, which completes the trifecta of the Briskman/Shwekey collaborations. The cd is a guaranteed runaway hit. I am curious to hear which songs others out there like and dislike. Comments are welcomed. Also remaining to be seen is what direction Yaakov Shwekey will choose to take his career in after this. I will certainly stay tuned.

11 Comments:

Blogger Liz said...

Just to get #9 straight, using the cd insert.
It's about a mother in the Holocaust who put her son in a monastery to save him. Rabbi Eliezer Silver zt"l went after the war to try to get the children like this back from the monasteries and he went in and said Shema and whichever kids were touched by it (I've heard a story but I don't whether it was this one, about the same type of thing where the kids who started crying were Jewish) were Jewish.
It's kind of annoying that you have to be a member of the blog society to comment.

September 26, 2004 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger kol achai fan said...

Here my thoughts on the cd.

Disclaimer: I hired Yaakov, Yochi Briskman and Negina to sing/play at my wedding in August of 01. That was shortly after Shweky 1 came out and Yaakov was not quite the mega star he is now. p.s. He was absolutely awesome at the wedding.

Unlike Mindy, I thought Shweky 2 was very decent and as good as most of the other albums out at the time, though it was not amazing.

Shweky 3 or Yedid, probably gets my vote for the most consistent jewish album ever made. There is not a single filler on the album. There is not a single other jewish album out there, in my opinion, that does not have at least 2 or 3 fillers on it. Having said that, in my opinion, there are no goosebump songs on this album. By goosebump song, I mean a song that just makes my hair stand on end, and bring a lump to my throat because it is so beautiful (see Hinei Matov on Kol Achai 1, Hashkifa on Kol Achai 2, Hinei Hastav on Kol Achai 3, and Amaych Ami on Kol Achai 4 for real goosebumps).
Yaakov's voice is really beautiful. For me there will never be anyone whose voice will match MBD at his prime. I think Ephraim Mendleson's comes close (though with a couple of exceptions, i really don't like the compositions and arrangements on his albums- which is a shame coz he has such a stunning voice).
So YS is no MBD in his prime, but with the exception of Ephraim Mendleson, i think he probably has the next best voice in jewish music today (possibly tied with mendy wald).
And at last, someone who does not think having more then 10 songs on album violates "Bal Toiseefu".
These r my thoughts on the individual songs.

1. Song : Hu Yiftach (Libeinu B’soroso)
Composed by: Moshe Laufer
My rating: 6.0

So-so song. As Mindy said, pretty unoriginal but a little catchy.

~2~
Song: V’harev (Nu HaShem Elokeinu etc)
Composed by: R’ Moshe Dovid Shwekey
My rating: 7

Pretty much the same as 1, but obviously, alot more effort went into song 2.

3~
Song: Ben Bag Bag (omer, hafoch bo hafoch bo…)
Composed by: Pinky Weber
My rating: 8.5

I'm with Mindy. The song really starts to pick up on song 3. This is a great song. Original, meant to be catchy words, and great arrangements. My 2 year old loves this (i luv hearing my 2 yr old singing mishnayis!)

~4~
Song: Sameach Tesamach
Composed by: Yitzy Waldner
My rating: 8.0

I think this is a great song. I prob agree with Mindy, not as good as Meheira, but I think it's a great song nonetheless. Yaakov reaches very high notes with ease on this song. The harmonies are great and the melody is very strong.


~5~
Song: Yedid
Composed by: Yossi Green
My rating: 8

Nice sephardic style song. Again original catchy lyrics, great arrangements. Not the most original of songs.

~6~
Song: Moshiach (B’sho she hakodosh boruch hu…)
Composed by: Pinky Weber
My rating: 8.

The song starts off great- the vocals and chords on "V'oimer" towards the beginning of the song, are stunning (such a shame he did not harmonize). For me the song loses originality as gets to the faster tempo segment. Beautiful lyrics. The beginning part is my fave slow song on the album.

~7~
Song: Rabbi Akiva (omar rabbi akiva)
Composed by: Eli Laufer
My rating: 8.5

Very original and stylish intro, which unfortuantely then morphes into the usual jewish fare intro (why do they do that?).
Overall, an awesome upbeat song. Original tune, great arrangements. My fave fast song on the album.


~8~
Song: Shma Yisroel (English song)
Composed by: Tune: Yitzy Waldner.
My rating: 7.5

Nice song. brings tears to my eyes. I luv the violin bar on (images of the shtetl)YS puts even more heart than usual into this touching song, and ity comes thru.



~9~
Song: Al Chomotayich (Yerushalayim, hifkadeti shomrim etc.)
Composed by: Yossi Green
Rating: 7.5

cute sephardic style sung with an authentic accent (including proper pronounciation of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayin. As YS is an SY boy, the accent is not put on. Again I think the melody for the first part is great. For me the second part lacks tune and orignality. I hate the silly noises that Yossi Green makes in the background. Saying OOOH and AAAh is fine for kids tapes but as an adult I find it very silly.



~10~
Song: Im Eshkochech (Yerushalayim)
Composed by: Yochanan Shapiro
My rating: 9

Gorgeous song. Beautiful melody and Yaakov swithes effortlessly between two octaves to great effect. I think Yaakov hits the highest notes of the album on this track.

~11~
Song: Yiree Ainainee
Composed by: R’ Moshe Dovid Shwekey
My rating: 8

For me the first part sounds like it was composed in about 0.0002 seconds. Very unispiring. The song is rescued by the cute second part. Very "lets go dance right now".


Total Ratings: 86/110

October 18, 2004 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Shira Bracha said...

So nice to see what the English cover looks like ;-)
Someone just brought back this cd from israel for me.. I should get to listen sometime this week then ill post my thoughts

November 3, 2004 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger chaiky5 said...

More background on Shema:
Rav Eliezer Silver lived in good ol' Cincinnati, Ohio. As legend goes, (and as is apparent there are many versions) he would begin the posuk "shema Yisroel..." and whoever finished the posuk proved himself Jewish. I played this song over and over this summer and the people I was babysitting for begged me for the story.After I told it once, they would not go to bed unless I told them the story again. It was very cute and touching.

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Blogger YHooders said...

The beginning of V'Harev sounds familiar to you because it is derived from The Phantom of the Opera's opening theme.

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