Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Question & Answer With Psycho Toddler - Jewish Music CD Recommendations

(Painting by Elena Flerova)

A Simple Jew asks:

Of the following artists, what CD would you recommend if you could only recommend one CD from each artist?:

Aaron Razel
Avraham Rosenblum
Chaim Dovid
Adi Ran

Psycho Toddler answers:

Well, I'm going to assume your taste is similar to mine...

Aaron Razel: Live album. The best arranged and a good mix of styles. His other stuff is more uneven and an acquired taste. Whenever I hear one of the original tunes, I always prefer the live version. However, I do like all of his albums. They take a few listens to grow on you.

Avraham Rosenblum: Kedem. His older stuff is kinda BoroParky in that he sold out and got these arrangers who took all the guts out of his music. I much prefer the raw sound of the old Diaspora recordings.

Piamenta: Either the Live in NY album or Mitzvah, which is a reissue of a self-produced '84 album. Again, everything in between has been watered down for Boro Park crowds.

I don't know anything about the others.

Jewish music has undergone a renaissance as of late, where bands are actually getting away with being original and creative. I think this has to do with the internet--more people talking and reviewing albums, and more publicity for independents like me and Moshav Band etc. Before we could only get what they put in the book stores, which was heavily filtered by the Boro Park shiny shoe crowd (alot of payola type stuff).

Of course, you are always welcome to download the 3 or 4 albums worth of my stuff on mosheskier.com and feel free to support the web site by buying Rock of Sages.

(Picture courtesy of MosheSkier.com)


At August 8, 2006 at 7:27:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: Other than the artists listed above, do you have any other favorites?

At August 8, 2006 at 8:20:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

PT didn't mention anything of Chaim Dovid's. I like his earlier stuff better, but all of his are pretty good. There's one called "Open Up", his "Seven Shepherds" niggun and "Ya-ma-mai" are both classics by now.

Razel did an interesting interpretation of rare Carlebach niggunim in conjunction with the Witt children called "Nonetheless". His brother Yonatan does an excellent rendition of a rare "Bnei Beis'cha" niggun of Shlomo's [not the one on "I Heard the Wall Singing"]. It's far & away the best Razel music I've heard.

At August 8, 2006 at 9:01:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All things considered, I like really old arrangements (acoustic instruments...) of really old tunes better than nearly all the new stuff. There's a complexity and depth often missing today.

Some of the jazz-flavored work of Andy Statman and others is very compelling, though.

At August 8, 2006 at 9:14:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Nice...one blogger interviewing another...Great format idea. IMHO, I agree there as never been anything like the MITZVAH album. It infused Rock/Punk (Vayeven Uziahu)passion with a neshamah!

At August 8, 2006 at 12:29:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: Thanks to your recommendations. I just ordered Kedem, Razel Live in Jerusalem, and Mitzva.

At August 8, 2006 at 5:55:00 PM EDT, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

yitz: I didn't mean this to be a formal interview; I was just answering an email question! I've never heard any of Chaim Dovid's albums, or Adi Ran, so I can't speak to their merits (I always accept review copies or am willing to swap CD's--that's how I got copies of Seth Nadel's, Yom Hadash's, and Pay Daled's albums).

I like Blue Fringe too, but I don't think you will, ASJ, as they are much more Poppy and less Heavy Metallish.

I discussed this in a post two years ago, but I tend to be partial to bands that play their own music when they record. I find that a big problem with shiney shoe music has been that it is all arranged by the same few people and played by the same few people, and it all sounds very homogenized to me.

I don't care if a band plays super well, or if they're a little off key, or if they stick with simple acoustic arrangements. I just prefer music that comes directly from the artists, not some jazzed up overproduced version. When people sing and play their own music, it has so much more soul to it.

So I did like Nadel's and PD's music for that reason alone, and I recommend you go to their websites and listen to a few tracks before purchasing.

And that's really the great thing about this new Jewish Music Rennaisance, since now the artists can get their music directly to you to try out. Nobody has to deal with what I did 20 years ago, when I tried to get Kabbalah on the shelves at Eichlers and they refused because they didn't like the name of the album.

Oh, and if you don't have The Diaspora Collection, you need to put that at the top of the list.

What else? I like Shlock Rock's original stuff (disclaimer: I'm a founding member), and if you want to hear the band actually playing their own instruments, check out albums called Jewish Pride, Emunah, and Shirei Boker (in that order). I wrote a rock tune for Jewish Pride called "Someone Else's Place" that has a great piano solo by Gershon Veroba, and Gershon wrote an excellent song called "Kvodo" which is probably one of my favorite Jewish songs (and what a great bassline on that one!)

At August 8, 2006 at 7:40:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: I like Blue Fringe too and have both albums :)

At August 9, 2006 at 6:06:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: Do you like Pey Dalid as well? I know Chaim is always saying good things about them.

At August 9, 2006 at 11:10:00 AM EDT, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I did. Maybe I'm partial to people who send me free music.

I don't know. I said that I'd never do this, but I think I'm developing separate standards for Jewish Music.

I bought a best of Talking Heads album and I REALLY liked that.

I liked PD because they poured their hearts into this recording and you can tell. Some songs are better than others. I can't say that I would buy the album if it were secular, but I'd probably knock most of these guys off of my list if that were the case.

I always said that what we were going for with Kabbalah was music that people would buy even if they weren't interested in Jewish Music.

At August 9, 2006 at 3:03:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: I know what you mean. I too have different standards for Jewish music vs. secular music. It seems like quality musicianship is the exception and not the rule in a lot of frum music. However, this seems to be changing and I am encouraged when I listen to CD's like Shlomo Katz's new CD.

Given your and Chaim's recommendation, I will also have to check out Pey Daled in the future.


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