2003 was a pretty good year for Jewish Music. That year saw the release of Abie Rotenberg’s Aish 2, the first Yeshiva Boys Choir album, Ohad’s first solo album, the satire/parody album I’m So Sick of Racheim, and, of course, Journeys 4. Therefore, it was definitely understandable if a certain Yochi Briskman production starring a former Miami Boys Choir soloist named Michoel Pruzansky slipped through the cracks for some people. The same thing could not be said, however, about Michoel’s second album, 2007’s Pruzbul, produced by Yitzy Bald. Pruzbul took the world by storm, setting up Michoel’s first self-produced album, MP3, released in 2011.
Three years after the release of MP3 (actually a relatively quick turnaround time for Pruz), Michoel has released his newest offering, Pruz Control (he’s apparently got a thing for eponymous albums). Pruz Control takes everything we’ve come to love from Michoel’s last two productions and gives us more. Yitzy Waldner returns with the bulk of the compositions on the album, instrumental arrangements are handled by Shai Barak, and choirs are handled by Yochanan Shapiro.
Track 1, “Am Echad” (composed by Michoel Pruzansky and Yitzy Waldner, lyrics by Malky Giniger): Two is a couple, three is a crowd, four is a trend, five is…? “Am Echad” is Michoel’s legally required contribution to the “Achdus” genre of Jewish music which has apparently become a cottage industry since the release of Yesh Tikvah nearly two years ago. Good thing it’s actually a good song. This track is a techno/disco with original lyrics by famed singer-songwriter Malky Giniger, with backup vocals by Yitzy Spinner. Also, special shout-out to our very own Hillel Kapnick, who is credited with additional choirs on this track and also helped record this album at his studio.
Track 2, “Simchat Chatanim” (composed by Yitzy Waldner; lyrics by Miriam Israeli, Yanky Glazerson, and Chilu Posen): Wow—a unique, original hora which 1) doesn’t appear on a Shwekey album, and 2) features original lyrics! The lyrics are actually the most interesting part of the song; I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song which, while mainly in Hebrew, throws in Arabic and Yiddish lyrics without missing a beat or sounding awkward. Expect to hear this one a lot during the new wedding season.
Track 3, “Aleinu”, feat. Yitzy Waldner (composed by Yitzy Waldner): Hey, who knew that Yitzy Waldner can also sing? He is the guest vocalist in this song, a beautiful, slightly bluesy ballad. Dor Assaraf provides sax solos throughout the song, which grows in fullness and intensity as it goes along. The bridge and key change which starts at around the four-minute mark is especially nice.
Track 4, “Ain Od Milvado” (composed by Yishai Lapidot): As if the “üntz-üntz” techno beat and electronic arrangements didn’t give it away, this upbeat track is composed by the one and only Yishai Lapidot. This track featues Chaim Meir Fligman’s Shir V’Shevach Boys Choir, which also appeared on Baruch Levine’s Modim and Simcha Leiner’s Pischi Li, among other recent albums. Interestingly, and I can’t imagine this wasn’t done on purpose, the lyrics to the high part of this song are also from “Aleinu”, so it’s a natural progression from the last track.
Track 5, “Koli” (composed by Ari Goldwag):This track is a heartfelt slow song which starts off sounding like it could be an MBD song, but then blossoms into a ballad which is pure Pruz—think “Yiskereim” from Pruzbul and you’re in the right ballpark, complete with a stanza in English.
Track 6, “Ashrei Mi” (composed by Dovi Brazil and Yitzy Waldner): Speaking of themes legally required to be on a Jewish album, here’s our requisite “Torah-learning-is-a-really-good-thing” song from this album. This disco can be slotted into second-dance-sets at weddings which are too yeshivish to play “Simchat Chatanim”.
Track 7, “Pray” (composed by Yitzy Waldner; lyrics by Bella Levitan, Chanale Fellig, and Yossi Beren): Wow, a fast English song by Michoel Pruzansky? Good, because I don’t know if my fragile psyche would have been able to handle another “You’re Watching Me” or “Show Me the Way”. Unlike those gut-wrenching elegies, “Pray” is a song of hope; a poppy, happy, power ballad which also has elements of reggae and rock.
Track 8, “Shuva” (composed by Mordechai Klein and Yitzy Waldner): This track is a rock-ballad slow song featuring child soloist Moshe Kahan. I see this song becoming more of a concert staple for Pruz as opposed to a kumzits or chasunah standard.
Track 9, “Chaveirim” (composed by Doni Gross): Pure Pruz. If you liked “Zeh Lazeh” from MP3 or “Hu” from Pruzbul, then you’ll love this hopped-up disco. Michoel dedicated this song to the volunteers of Chaveirim who are always there when they are needed to help their fellow Jews out of sticky situations.
Track 10, “Orech Yomim” (composed by Yochanan Shapiro): Chazzanus in the intro! Apparently Michoel needed to remind us that he really does know how to sing. After the intro, the song transitions into a medium-speed “oom-pah”-style song (think “Shiru LaMelech” or “Kechu Imachem Devarim”), aimed at yeshivishe kumzitses and shabbos tables across the world.
One quick rant before I go: Why are these albums so short recently? Pruz Control is the fourth album this year which I have reviewed that clocks in at under 48 minutes—we’re not listening to LPs here, what gives? Minor nitpick aside, Pruz has provided us with another very solid album. It’s not his greatest (that honor still goes to Pruzbul), but definitely well worth your time.