Monday, August 16, 2010

We Sang that At Camp (didn't we?)

I'm a huge fan of the Oy Baby discs. The first two (Oy Baby I and II) are the best performed, produced, and arranged Jewish kids discs out right now. From the smart and eclectic song selection to the wonderful harmonies of Stephanie Schneiderman and her sisters these albums are spot on perfect. Ask my kids how to sing Eli Eli, the Shehekianu, or a dozen other tunes,'ll hear the Schneiderman arrangements coming back at you.

So I was delighted when I got their next Jewish album "We Sang That At Camp." And there it was, the same great voices, now with a fine male singing partner, but I couldn't quite get into it. My kids, now 3 years older than when they were first hooked on Oy Baby, couldn't quite get into it. I've been listening to it on and off all summer and I think I finally figured it out.

I never went to Jewish camp in the 1970s. And neither did my kids.

And that, it seems, is a bit of a problem. The album is setup to feel a bit like a campfire or a singalong in a mess tent in a camp. A fine conceit, that allows for a mix of liturgical pieces such as "Ma Tovu." Israeli folk pop pieces such as "Salaam," and American folk pop pieces such as "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

"Leaving on a Jet Plane?" Really? Seriously? That got sung at Jewish camp? My dad is a big fan of 1960's folk pop. I grew up on Peter Paul and Mary, the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, and the like. But hearing covers of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and Harry Chapin's "All My Life's a Circle" is just odd and points to my fundamental problem with the disc...I really don't understand who the intended audience is.

A 40 year-old guy who, unlike me, went to Jewish camp? Maybe, but this is still a pretty kid friendly album. The arrangements are only a hairs-breadth more adult oriented than the Oy Baby discs. My kids? They dig the Jewish songs. "Ba Shanah Haba'ah" was a favorite. But the Harry Chapin number just lost them. They had no interest in a 40 year old light folk pop number made even lighter. Honestly I didn't either. My sense of nostalgia doesn't include this kind of material.

So this disc, for all that it has some great moments and very worthy tracks, never made into rotation. Which was a bummer. My kids are ready and primed for a new Oy Baby disc. Just not this one. Maybe one that sounds more like their current Jewish camp, the local Gan Israel camp, that mixes some of the very same tunes, with bunk songs that mix Miss Mary Mack style word play with current pop radio verve and swagger. Now that they'd groove on.

But this is very much a "your mileage may vary" kind of situation. If you went to camp or have a different sense of nostalgia, you might love this disc. Or your kids might. Check it out and see...

1 comment:

AS said...

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