Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mimi Sloan reissued and still laying down the gauntlet

Mimi Sloan's Album CoverThe horns blast, staccato and brassy, over a hammering tambourine rhythm. The signer lets loose a long wail, melodic and a bit unhinged. Is this a bimah or a bull fight? aaaaaAHHHHHH! aaaaaAHHHHH! Hebrew cantorial skat, her voice wriggling and bucking, changing tone and tempo on every mesure. Every bar raises the stakes; switch keys, drop an octave and growl, jump back up and let loose with a trill to shatter glass and hearts. SHALOM! Shalomashaloomashaloom! AAAAAHHHHHH! Instrumentals cut out and she cuts loose like everything else was just the warm up. My nervous system is shot. I’m sweating. I’ve never heard anything like it.

And if you haven’t heard Mimi Sloan sing Moyshe Oysher’s "Amar Amar", then you haven't either. Listen, and don’t forget to breath…

Mimi Sloan "Amar Amar"

Feder Sisters 78Mimi Sloan was one of the Feder Sisters. Along with her sister Sylvia they were hardworking second stringers playing night clubs and Catskill resorts and singing on Yiddish Radio. Amazing voices but no big hits like the Barry Sisters had. There were a few recordings, including the albums “Yiddish Maestro” and “Some Like It Yiddish” and singles like “Gets Mir A Yingele.” Want a copy? You’ve got some hunting to do.

But they’ve made an impact. In particular, Mimi’s (mostly) solo album “Mimi Sloan Sings Moishe Oysher Classics : Yiddish & Cantorial” has been remembered. In it, Sloan gives a ferocious performance of Oyser material. Last week I wrote about the British group GhettoPlotz and their haywire DJ driven klezmer flavored dance mixes. Their track Chassidic Torpedo lays down a slick contemporary grove over the bouncing-ball-in-a-blender “chiriribim” of Mimi and Slyvia’s version of Oysher’s “Hassidic in America.” I love the GhettoPlotz deconstruction and reformulation, but it’s the absolute fearlessness of the Feders that steal the show.

Here’s the Feder’s "Hassidic In America".

Mimi and Sylvia Sloan "Hassidic in America"

Now go hear the GhettoPlotz remix - Chassidic Torpedo.

The great thing is that “Mimi Sloan Sings Moishe Oysher Classics : Yiddish & Cantorial” is available again. It is was reprinted by Hatikvah Records and can be ordered right now from CD Baby and will be available soon through the Hatikvah Records website. Don't let the dated horn arrangements fool you, this album is as fresh and as radical as anything released and should be on every Jewish music fan’s Hanukkah wish list.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments about my late stepmother, Mimi Sloan. She was so very talented, not only as a singer, but as an actress, something that is little known. She and her sister acted in many Yiddish shows, supporting many of the greats of the Yiddish Theatre. She also supported Tom Bosley, as his girlfriend's mother in the short-lived Broadway show, "The Education of Hyman Kaplan." (It didnt close on account of poor reviews; it closed because of poor press, thanks to opening the very night Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was there.) I saw many of her Borscht Circuit shows that she did with her sister, Sylvia. I watched them rehearse and then perform. They were true professionals with a natural talent, and much mellower and smoother than the Barry Sisters. Mimi also performed in such great venues as Carnegie Hall, and I saw her tear the house down.
She knew Moishe Oysher personally, through her husband Danny Sloan(my father, and witnessed his great singing on the Jewish holidays first at Schenk's Paramount Hotel and then at The Pines Hotel,as my father officiated at services as the rabbi and reader of the torah scrolls. Mimi and I sat together for many of the Oysher-Sloan services and we were mezmorized by Oysher's singing. He had a great voice and tons of charisma. So her performance on "Mimi Sloan Sings Moishe Oysher Melodies" was inspired by her genuine love for his music. She strove to get "Chassidic in America" and "Amar, Amar" just right, but she didn't have to work too hard at it. She was a natural, and it was a labor of love and a tribute to Oysher that she dearly loved doing. (By the way, the full "Yiddish, Maestro" LP title you mentioned is "Yiddish, Maestro, Please!") Both of the Feder Sisters' United Artist LP's are classics and have great stereo separatio. (They were, tho, given their just recognition a couple of years ago in the book, "And You SHall Know us by the Trail of Our Vinyl" and the great exhibit about Yiddish music at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan!) (supervised by my father, by the way, with an assist from the man who orchestrated the records --the great and legendary Abe Ellstein. He also orchestrated some of the Barry Sistes' recordings, but he surpassed himself with his work on Mimi and Syl's albums.) Thanx again for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for your comments about Mimi Sloan, my late stepmother. She knew Oysher personally and was a great admirer of his. I sat with her many times witnessing his cahazunis at holiday services in the Catskills. Her Oysher album was a labor of love. She had a feel for his music and strove to get his jibberish lyrics in "Chassidic in America." just righjt. (And I dare say she does a better job of it than either The Barry Sisters or Moishe's own neice, the talented Marilyn Michaels.) Mimi and her sister wwere equally talented, and their two LP albums you cited were ahead of their time and have great stereo separation. The Feder Sisters were pros. I watched them rehearse and then perform many of their Borscht Circuit shows. They had a much more natural and mellower take on Yiddish music than the better known Barry Sisters, who I always believed were too mechanically perfect and hard on the ear. I kmnow I am considered prejudiced, but it's "da truth.")
Mimi had great range and was, like her sister, a fine actress, as well, something few people know about. The sisters' LP's used to be available on Ebay, but no longer can be found there. They are now collectors' items, and also deserve to be re-released as CD's.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for your comments about my late stepmother, Mimi Sloan. She knew and greatly admired Oysher and had a great feel for his music.
The Feder Sisters were much warmer than the mechanical Barry Sisters (OK; I'm prejudiced, but it's da truth!) Their two LP albums have great stereo separation. I saw them rehearse and perform in the Borscht Circuit and they were real pros and extremely talented. They just oozed the music and worked so well together. As a solo act, Mimi was able to demonstrate her great range and great voice. I'm so happy that her Oysher album was released as a CD, but the Fder Sisters' two United Artists LPs are so deserving of also being made available as CDs! Can you help get that going???

Jack said...

I am a huge fan of the Mimi Sloan album and would love to hear the Feder Sister recording. Unfortunately, i don't have any means of getting a CD mastering and distribution project going. The only person I know that might be interested in this kind of reissue project is Simon Rutberg at I'm fairly sure I got the Mimi Sloan solo CD from him. Given the age of the recording, it's unlikely to be much of a money maker. A different strategy would be to create a Feder Sisters tribute website and to distribute .mp3 music files of the LP recordings for free download. That might attract more attention and share the legacy more widely than commercial sale. The challenge there would be to identify who holds the rights for the recordings and make sure it can be done legally.