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Various Artists

The Jewish Songbook: The Heart and Humor of a People

(Shout Factory; US: 8 Jun 2008; UK: 3 Jun 2008)

Wonder of wonder, a miracle, a miracle—a Jewish songbook that really captures the heart and humor of the chosen people in America! The twelve new versions of classic Yiddish, Hebrew, and English tunes and schtick included here make one cry, laugh, and shout with pride. Who woulda thunk that Adam Sandler could pull of a heartfelt version of the traditional prayer, “Hine Ma Tov”, or for that matter that Rob Schneider could sound like a Jewish Louis Jordan on “Bagels and Lox”? Other highlights include Hebe, er Herb Albert’s instrumental take on “Mein Shtetle Belz”, Theodore Bikel and Betsy Hammer’s sweet duet on “Sabbath Prayer”, Neil Sedaka’s schmaltzy “My Yiddishe Momme”, and Triumph the Wonder Dog’s biting humor on “Mahzel”. The only sour note here is the inclusion of the previously recorded Barabara Streisand’s overwrought “Avinu Malkenu” to make this a baker’s dozen of tracks. Nu, so it’s a free bonus, but sometimes a bargain isn’t worth the cost.

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Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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