Checkout is disabled during Shabbos and Yom Tov
  • Your Cart is Empty

Hislahavus’ Review of Benny Friedman’s Bnei Heichala

by Hislahavus January 08, 2014













Fans of nostalgia will enjoy Benny’s new album, Bnei Heichala. In a world of albums that exhibit collections and medleys, this one is unique. It seems to me that the decision to pull particular tunes was made to draw from as wide a swath as possible, so you’ve got everything here: Niggunim (hailing from Chabad, Vizhnitz, Breslov and Bobov) and children’s songs; Sefardic and classic; and covers from the likes of R’ Dovid Werdyger, MBD, Fried and others. Pretty broad collection, if you ask me.

I would be remiss if I’d not mention Benny’s vocals – he stays within his strengths throughout; sweet, but strong – no wandering into territory that is not his. Perfect control, appropriate emoting, and full-bodied sound. You go, Benny!

The album, as any album of medleys, has its ups and downs. On the up-side, is the general quality of songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the revisitation of R’ Dovid Werdyger’s He Elokeini (from Melitzer Oneg Shabbos), and of course, the four classic Chabad niggunim (2 x Azamer Bishvachin, Hu Elokeinu and the moving title track, a long-time favorite). I got a real blast from the past with the rendition of Martin Davidson’s Eishet Chayil – for the life of me I’m trying to recall the name of the band that number was played on! In any case, the only thing that drives me a bit batty is the placement of Raza D’Shabbos after the Sefardi Lecha Dodi – the latter song, a rockin’ piece (remember Piamenta’s version of it on 1990), is slowed to a snail’s pace and loses its flavor. Chaval.

The pieces were organized well, with the obvious chronologic movement from pre-Shabbos (excellent English adaptation of R’ Yom Tov Ehrlich’s Shabbos Kodesh) to post-Shabbos (the later, rock, section of B’motzoei Yom Menucha calls to mind Diaspora’s version of that beautiful Breslover nigun).
The downs are more subtle. It seems like the record was rushed a bit, as Yedidim’s basic harmonies add very little, and we could have used more of Benny’s overdubs, which are pretty rare as it is. Less subtle is the inexplicable percussive beat on Miami’s Menucha Vesimcha – Benny’s straight vocals just don’t click with the funky arrangement. And then there’s the unrehearsed choir at the beginning of the aforementioned B’Motzoei Yom Menucha – what gives?

In any case, Avremi G’s work here – utilizing a large mix of instrumentation – is crisp and modern, but gives due respect to – even friendly reminders of – the originals, when applicable. He uses the brass section as an extension to the strings, allowing Benny to carry the bulk of the tune, but never lacking in backing. I loved the rock chords and drums on Azamer #2, though admittedly, R’ Hillel Paritcher would probably raise an eyebrow had he heard it this way. Another great moment is his delightful arrangement of Time to Say Good Shabbos. His full orchestral sound, emphasized by Benny’s smooth vocals, gives it color it had never had before. While I typically enjoy the delicate timbre of the French horn, I think Avremi may have overused it a bit. Tachlis, thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the mind-numbing simplicity of the arrangements of the likes of the Around the Year series.

If you’re looking for chiddushim in music, this ain’t for you. But if you’re looking for a sweet, laid-back record hailing back to simpler JM times, run! Run, I say! Yeah, pick up a copy forthwith.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News & Updates

Preview for Benny Friedman – Spread the Light – Israel

by Jewish Music Reporter February 20, 2017

Coming soon! Preview for Benny Friedman – Spread the Light – Israel Sneak peek. Coming soon! Short travel vlog (video log, yes?) of trip to Israel we did a few weeks ago. Stay tuned for the full rendition. — Benny Friedman (@BennysMusic) February 20, 2017 &nbsp
Read More
It’s Here! The new single from Reb Shloime Taussig – Ein Gedula!

by Jewish Music Reporter February 19, 2017

Download MP3 here. fter the hit Mai Dehava which was very successful, Reb Shloime Taussig is coming back with another new song in anticipation of his new album. Reb Taussig turned to chassidic composer R’ Meshulem Greenberger in order to take the idea of “do not say to Hashem how big your troubles are, tell your troubles how big Hashem is.” into [&hellip
Read More

by Jewish Music Reporter February 16, 2017

Lev Tahor is back and better than before with “Lev Tahor – LTV”, the group’s fifth studio album and its first in the last 10 years. With rousing dance tracks, beautiful ballads and thumping beats, these songs will get you out of your seat. There is already buzz about the album, that includes the hit [&hellip
Read More
News & Updates

Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more …