Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Top 5 Avraham Fried Albums

To me, Fried is the best in the Jewish music business. By a mile. It's like listening to Vin Scully broadcast a ballgame, and then trying to hear someone else do it - Sterling, Cohen, Rose - whomever - some do a decent job, some are awful, but even the very good ones don't match up.

What does Fried have going for him? Four things. One, the voice - one of the best, probably the best in the JM business. He's one of those guys with whose got the powerful voice for the fast songs, and the soft voice for the slow songs (think "Yisimcha"). Two, he's got a great composer in Yossi Green, easily the most creative JM composer out there (I'm not a big Rottenberg fan, and I like Brazil, but the creativity isn't there as much.) Three, the guy puts out albums for the sake of putting out albums, not to get his name out there so he can sing at weddings. As a result, you get the feeling that effort was put into most of his songs, at least. Most importantly, Fried's not a performer - the guy sings from the heart. He's out there to inspire. I don't listen to Jewish music for entertainment, only inspiration. If I want entertaining music, there's a lot of better stuff out there than Eli Gerstner or Lipa or whomever. And let's just say it isn't stuff that's sold in Galpaz.

So my top 5 Fried albums are as follows:

5) We Are Ready! (1988) - Okay, "Avrohom Yogel" definitely sounds dated, but it was HUGE in its day. The title track is a cringe-worthy English song, easily the worst on the album. But Fried redeems himself with a criminally underrated "Yedid Nefesh," only recently made famous by Shwekey on one of those albums where they turn a bunch of old songs into medleys. "Tania" is one of Fried's all-time best tracks. There are a few decent fast songs on here too, the most noteworthy being "Eliyahu HaNavi." "Shavas Aniyim" is also worth a listen.

4) Aderaba (1991) - Side A on here is tremendous - "Kol Yisroel" is my favorite Fried opener, "Aderaba" is my favorite Fried song in terms of lyrics, and Nisht Gedayget and HaShomayim are very very good. Plus there's "Kaitzad," typical Laufer song, but a good one. Side B has a good opener in "Hinei," then another classic Yossi Green epic in "Ki Hamitzvoh." Fried's vocals soar on that one. The rest of the album doesn't feature anything noteworthy.

3) No Jew Will Be Left Behind (1981) - I love early Fried for his voice - it sounds much sweeter on the earlier albums. The album opens with "Kel Hahodos," a fast opener later made famous by Uncle Moishy. This is the only Fried album with two English songs, and both are surprisingly very good. "Kanei" is a standout track, and Fried's vocals on here are simply incredible. The "Ani Maamin" of the Kedoshim is one of the most powerful Jewish songs ever recorded. Only problem with the album: too short. If you have just 8 songs, you've gotta leave the filler out.

2) Forever One (1983) - This is another great early Fried album. "Invei Hagefen" has withstood the test of time, "Mishoch" and "Tzomo" are like typical Green songs, with the slow semi-chazzonish beginning leading up to a fast ending. "Forever One" doesn't make you cringe - impressive for a Jewish English song. Side B has a couple of excellent slow songs: the Yiddish "Tateynu" and an inspiring and criminally underrated "Acheinu," better than the cold Lev Vnefesh version. "Me'eyn" is my favorite closer for a Fried album; it's one of his catchiest songs.

1) Brocha V'Hatzlocha (1995) - One of my biggest problems with Jewish music is that far too often, you spend 15 bucks on an album with one or two hits and 10 songs that were composed when someone was in the john or waiting on line at the pizza shop.

Aside from an awful English song, every tune on here is tremendous; the key here is the fast songs. On some Fried albums, the fast songs sound kinda bland; they're nice, but they don't stand out. Here, all of the fast songs have a distinct sound, and give this album a consistency that is somewhat lacking on the other albums. "K'Sheim" "Sisu" and "Bracha V'Hatzlocha" are all solid, and "Odom Doaig" is another home run by Green. And the slow songs are Green classics - Chabibi and R'tzei are the typical slow/chazzanish to fast/joyful epics, executed flawlessly. "Yisimicha" is beautiful. "Zechor" didn't hit it too big, but it's a great song too. This is my second-favorite Jewish album of all time (Regesh III is #1, if you must know).

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55 Comments:

Blogger saraj said...

HI Issac,

came across your wed site (which is great btw!!). I really really hope you can help me out, because it looks like you know your music!! ive been searching all day for the lyrics in hebrew and english to 'aderaba' (by Avraham Fried) and see its on your song list, do you know the lyrics, or know a web site i can get them from please, im a bit desperate for them. id really appreciate your help, could you please e mail me sjospehs@unitedsynagogue.org.uk

thank you so much.

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