Monday, June 16, 2008

"The Jewish Songbook" according to Adam Sandler, Jason Alexander, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Rob Schneider, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog?

The Jewish Songbook album coverThe music publisher Shout! Factor specializes in repackaging and reprinting old albums for new audiences and putting together odd themed various artists collections to appeal to niche audiences. This time the niche audience is, well, us. They recently released the album "The Jewish Songbook: The Heart and Humor of A People" which includes "11 Brand New Recordings From Today's Top Entertainers!" and "wholeheartedly documents the creative richness of Jewish culture." Whew. Gotta get me some of that wholeheartedness!

Ok. I've had my fun teasing the marketers. Yes, it's an odd collection of performers. Last time I checked Adam Sandler, Jason Alexander, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Rob Schneider, Manhattan Transfer, and the inimitable Triumph the Insult Comic Dog are not top shelf Yiddish talents. (Ok, Babs is queen of anything she does). I just mean if you wanted to put together a sharp sounding album of Jewish musicians, this wouldn't be it. But Shout! Factory specializes in gathering up ex-A list and hopeful B and C list talents for projects like this.

And, truth to tell, I think it works. From the clips I've heard (Amazon has samples of the albums tracks) even Triumph the Insult Comic Dog comes out sounding pretty good. It's mostly jazzy uptempo arrangements of Jewish standards with a heavy focus on Yiddish material (My Yiddishe Momme, Raisins And Almonds, you get the idea). Theodore Bikel's "Sabbath Prayer" comes right out of Fiddler on the Roof. I have to give credit to Adam Sandler, though. Instead of taking the more expected comic turn, he picked "Hine Ma Tov" and gives it a very credible presentation.

So bottom line ... this isn't an album I'm likely to run out and buy. I listen to way to much top quality Jewish music to want to throw this disc on. But I'm not really the niche market Shout! Factory is going for. They're going for my brothers, who might dig hearing Adam Sandler getting his Jew on, or my dad who might still be holding a candle for Streisand after all these years. In other words, they're going for the niche market of typical American Jews who only are vaguely connected with Jewish music (or Judaism for that matter). That's a pretty big market and I expect this album to do well.

Heck, I might buy a copy or two for my brothers. I think they really would dig hear Sandler sing Hine Ma Tov."

To help promote the album, the Shout! Factory gang put together this little promo video. Thought I'd pass it along. Don't be fooled by the title, though. There's nothing "behind the scenes about it." Just some of the artists chatting for the camera.

The Jewish Songbook - Behind The Scenes

Hat tip to the Klezmershack mailing list for letting me know about the album.


patrick said...

Adam Sandler is classic; tho his work is more enjoyable as long as he stays with he's best at: casual, unassuming comedies

Jack said...

I'm on the fence about this one. No argument that Sandler is at his best (as a performer) in his comic work. But, I feel, he made a real statement by taking on a liturgical cornerstone of Shabbat service and giving it an earnest, straight-forward, presentation. The statement was something like "I might have some fun with my Judaism, but I also love it." For me that made this performance very enjoyable to listen to.