Sunday, November 02, 2003

In Which Sheya Mendlowitz Gets Fisked

Here's a transcript of an interview with producer Sheya Mendelowitz in which he discusses his involvement with the recent Srully (Yisroel) Williger album "MaTov".
Jewish Community Radio: "Any album or CD in the past 25 years in Jewish music that has your stamp of approval as a Sheya Mendelowitz production, you’re assured of a quality produced album and I think that’s what these singers out that that you’ve done in the past would say. I know you’ve done Piamenta, the London Boys Choir, etc. Give us a little bit about how you got together with Srully this time."
Note the flattery implicit in the question. This is something that is endemic to "Jewish Radio". Nachum Segal does this all the time too. Every Sheya Mendelowitz produced album is a "quality produced" album??? What about Shalom Morgenstern and Chuckie Muhlbauer's albums, for example? Sheya has produced many duds too.
Sheya Mendelowitz: "I’ve known Srully for quite a while. Actually I met him years ago in about 1981. I did a concert together with Mordechai Ben David. Yigal Saul came in actually he had auditions. But then I met him on different things. He did a very successful album with Yerachmiel Begun and HaKodosh Baruch Hu put the two of us together about a year ago and it was a wonderful, wonderful experience until now, kina hara, he is a professional and when you’ll hear the album, you'll see what I mean."
This paragraph is incomprehensible to me. He doesn't really answer the question. Also, Williger did two albums with Yerachmiel Begun. His first one "The Voice of a New Generation" had his only hit, "Hu Klal", and was quite successful. His second album with Begun, actually, his third album -- the second was a Suki and Ding release -- was the flop "We Can make It Right." But, Baruch Hashem, he manages to stick in some yeshivisms, "kina hara".
Jewish Community Radio: "It seems to me that there’s been a tons of this style of music has been very prolific in recent years. Maybe you could kind of define what kind of music this is."
Sheya Mendelowitz: "The truth is, yes, there has been a lot of albums that have come out on the market. From well known artists to people who are trying to come out on the scene."
Yes, and Sheya knows this because he's produced or otherwise been involved with many of these albums.
This album we took a totally different turn from what has been coming out until now.
The album actually sounds much like the other stuff that's out there. The notable differences are a prominiently featured violin on the fast tunes and the abundance of "cover songs" on the album, mostly old Rabbis Sons songs. Apparently, Williger has realized that he hasn't had success choosing "hits" for his albums, so he's recycling the hits of yesteryear instead.
"After you’ll hear, imeretz Hashem, the album, every song we chose for this album is keeping or putting the Jewish back into Jewish music, because it has taken a turn, Jewish music, in trying to copy the secular market. I personally, in my humble opinion, felt that that was a wrong turn where Jewish music has been going and I believe if I wanted to hear that type of music I’ll go to the source because they know how to do it the best. That’s not what Jewish music is about."
Excellent, more yeshivish platitudes. How exactly is the arrangement of the Rabbi's Sons tune, Kedesheinu, putting the "Jewish" back in Jewish music? And Sheya, why do you promote concerts with today's popular Jewish pop stars if "in your humble opinion" you believe that they are such an inappropriate influence.
"This, kina hara, just from the reviews and the responses, the emails, the phone calls what not, we’ve had a really tremendous response. People say, you know, it reminds us of the olden days but with a contemporary sound, a professional sound."
It's no wonder that it reminds them of the old days.... most of the songs are covers of old Rabbi's Sons songs.
"This has been a gift from upstairs that Hashem gave us that we’re bringing now to the audience. It's soothing and refreshing. People always say, what is that new thing you‘re going to us, for marketing your album. And I’m saying, we’re going back to the make it like what it once was. Actually it has no rock and roll on it at all, nothing like that. I don’t claim to know it all. I depend on the response. So I’m really curious to see what people think."
I wonder what the beat on Kadesheinu is, if not rock??? As a side point, Williger's kvetching on this track ruins a pretty melody.

This combination of hype, dissembling, and pandering has been going on for too long in the JM world. It's past time for it to stop.