Jewish Music Blog

July 10, 2005

Blue Fringe 70 Faces – Review

Filed under: Reviews — jewishmusic @ 11:59 pm

This is Blue Fringe’s second album. Their first album was known for breaking boundaries by having many English lyric songs with a focus on rock. Also unique was the fact that Blue Fringe themselves played instruments. I didn’t listen to the first album in depth because I was dissapointed with the parts I did hear – I felt that the recording quality and mix was just okay, and that the band itself wasn’t rock solid. I also felt that they went too far with the lyrics to the song “Flipping Out“, and that there was too much emphasis on rock. This album for the most part corrects what I didn’t like about the first album.

The first thing that struck me was the material of the CD case. It’s not the standard plastic; instead it’s solid paper. I happen to like this better – you don’t have to worry about the case breaking. But on the down side, the jacket is very short and the lyrics aren’t printed on it.

The first song is a hard rock song. I happen to not prefer hard rock in general, but as far as rock goes they did a decent job – the band sounds much more solid and professional than it did in the first album.

My only gripe with the second song, Av HaRachamim, is the fact that it’s a soft ballad that becomes a hard rock ballad and the lead singer actually sounds angry singing these words. Av HaRachamim Hu YiRachem al Amusim – loosely translated this means, Merciful Father may He have mercy on his children. These are very sad words – so why sound angry?

Track 6, The Shidduch song, is cute and catchy with great horn lines, but perhaps a bit inappropriate, but clearly not as far as Flipping Out. The way the guitar and vocals interplay off each other reminds of Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave your Lover.

Track 8, Shir HaShirim, is a loose translation of some p’sukim from Shir HaShirim – the Song of Songs. I find this totally inappropriate. Any objective listener would think that this song is a love song, and not to G-d. Just because it’s a loose translation of p’sukim doesn’t make it all right to sing.

Track 10, 70 Faces, is backed by a Bossa Nova groove. They do it all right, but nothing like authentic Bossa Nova. The singer also sings along with a guitar solo, reminding me of Bobby McFerrin.

A couple of overall comments:
Several songs use a horn section. The section sounds punchy and not typically Jewish.
Most if not all the songs are sung by the same vocalist.
None of the songs are really catchy or singable.
Many of the songs have tasteful musical interludes.
None of the players are masters – but they have their style and do it well.

I wanted to check the lyrics and the jacket says they’re online at Bluefringe.com. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t work, so I couldn’t get the lyrics.

Update (7/12/05): The website is working.
Update #2 (7/12/05 1:04 PM): Lyrics link to second album does not work.
Update #3 (7/12/05 4:15 PM): A friend directed me to this link which has the lyrics.

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16 Comments »

  1. No offense, but everything you cited as a disadvantage made me want to buy the album. The harder the music, the more intrigued I am. Guess I’m going to have to wait another week until I get a copy, though.

    Comment by Mordy — July 11, 2005 @ 12:26 am

  2. I’m not sure why I’d be offended, but I tried to write an objective review; as objective as these things can get. If that’s what you like, go buy it!

    Comment by keyboardguy — July 11, 2005 @ 9:50 am

  3. “I find this totally inappropriate. Any objective listener would think that this song is a love song, and not to G-d. Just because it’s a loose translation of p’sukim doesn’t make it all right to sing.”
    I can see why it might make you uncomfortable, but your argument is not fully developed. You simply make a conclusory statementwithout supporting it. What doesn’t make it alright to sing it? Shir HaShirim is literature- it’s a poem. It is not torah misinai and for years it has been adapted for use in other modes of artistic expression. The poem itself uses the relationship between man and woman as a proxy for the relationship with G-d, that is the point of the metaphor. It’s not like they named the song “Melinda”- it’s clear that this is about shir hashirim and anyone familiar with it will realize that it is a love song to Hashem.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 11, 2005 @ 10:53 am

  4. I agree with Mordy, I enjoyed this album specifically for the harder rock songs. Which is something I think they intended. Also, by most rock bands, or even pop rock bands, there is a lead singer and he/she only does the lead vocals. Why would you expect anything different.

    Comment by LIFE-of-RUBIN — July 11, 2005 @ 11:58 am

  5. anonymous-

    I fell that they’re using the words to shir hashirim as a proxy to sing a love song.

    Comment by keyboardguy — July 11, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

  6. You mean G-D as a proxy for girls. That may be the case, if not in intent then certainly in effect. I still don’t see why that should make you so uncomfortable. SHS is a love song that blurs the line somewhat. As I said, it is not torah misinai. Also, none of this is relevant to it as music insofar as a review is concerned. Like SHS, it will be interpreted by each listener in turn.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 12, 2005 @ 12:17 am

  7. My main “concern” is that the class of Jewish music is mainly targeted at the so called ultra-orthodox community; therefore Jewish albums are commonly sold in Jewish book stores. Main people in the ultra-orthodox community would find this very loose English translation of a couple of choice pesukim inappropriate.

    Comment by keyboardguy — July 12, 2005 @ 10:37 am

  8. Ignoring the other arguments for now, I just want to mention one thing:
    “My main “concern” is that the class of Jewish music is mainly targeted at the so called ultra-orthodox community”
    This is definitely not the case. It is most assuredly mainly targeted at the modern orthodox community, the community with which the band members most likely identify themselves.

    Comment by Eli — July 12, 2005 @ 11:55 am

  9. eli-

    Jewish music is also supposed to represent just that – Jewish music. If not in the music itself, then lyrically Jewish music has been different from non-Jewish music. To use the words of Shir HaShirim is such a way is wrong against Jewish music and is wrong against Shir HaShirim.

    Comment by keyboardguy — July 12, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  10. I wasn’t addressing that argument. I was just addressing the claim that Blue Fringe targets the ultra-Orthodox.

    Comment by Eli — July 12, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  11. this is a review? what are you, 12?

    Comment by jewish — July 19, 2005 @ 11:09 am

  12. Jewish –
    If you’re going to criticize, pleas elaborate your argument. I have no idea what you mean.

    Comment by keyboardguy — July 20, 2005 @ 1:55 pm

  13. Anonymous-

    Just wanted to clarify a couple of things.
    What do you mean that Shir HaShirim isn’t Torah MiSinai – you’ve said that twice. Orthodox Jews believe that all Torah is MiSinai.

    Also, what do you mean “Like SHS, it will be interpreted by each listener in turn”. SHS is interpreted by each person based on whatever he thinks!? Not really sure what your sources are.

    Comment by keyboardguy — July 20, 2005 @ 2:00 pm

  14. dear keyboardguy. your so called “review” of this album reads like a testimonial from someone that harbors a lot of resentment towards modern music. your writing illustrates your “objective” view of this band’s first album buy stating “i didn’t like some of what i heard, so i didn’t bother to try to listen to it, instead i’ll use my better judgement and just say that it’s not that great. (listening must just be a formality to you i guess.) since you already disqualified any valid insight into the music, i (assume) you had nothing left but to criticize the recording and mixing of the album (which you didn’t actually hear.)

    at least you took a more positive view of your negative opinion on the new album. or should i say, you listened to this one? it’s amazing how opinionated this “objective” review is.

    music is about love. maybe not for you (after all, you are a professional…..hermit.) love of the world, love of one’s G-d, and love of oneself. music is a way of communicating that love to others with the hope that it reaches another and impacts them as an individual and how they affect the world around them.

    are you saying love songs send a bad message? is love a bad message? are we not to love G-d as well as one another? maybe it’s all that rock and roll guitar that ruins that message because you don’t get it.

    if you want to really start writing “objective” reviews, here’s a to do list:
    1. open your eyes, mind and heart to the energy and passion of modern music. not for any other reason than what it COULD mean to you.
    2. actually listen to the cds that you write reviews for.
    3. buy a guitar.
    4. write a a song. (on guitar) that expresses what you feel inside. (not just what you think inside)
    5. accept that you might be wrong, and have the wisdom to admit it. we learn and grow by making mistakes, it’s ok.
    6. never underestimate the power of music.

    if you have already started to respond to these comments before finishing reading them, then you missed my points entirely and need not respond. if you haven’t, then think about these comments and go listen to “my awakening”…….and really begin your awakening…….

    Comment by Anonymous — August 14, 2005 @ 3:40 am

  15. Fervent Anonymous:

    I can see you harbor a lot of resentment toward me. :-). I’ll try not to make baseless assertions against your character.

    I didn’t write a review on My Awakening -all I stated was that I didn’t listen to it in depth – which to me means that I listened to the entire album once or twice, as opposed to the five or six listenings that I usually give.

    As to your discourse about love, I don’t ascribe to the belief that by simply “spreading love”, the world will be a better place. I take a more pragmatic view of the world, and a less new-age 60’s style philosphy.

    I do appreciate good rock and roll, but I don’t enjoy hard rock, such as Metallica and their ilk. My view on them is that that type of music ascribes to the basic animalistic instincts of human nature, and Orthodox Judaism ascribes to the “Soul over Body” philosophy. This is my main gripe with Av HaRachamim. (If you would read the review, you would understand this.)

    My comments on Shir HaShirim are coming from an Orthodox Jewish perspective which states that one is not allowed to listen to a love song sang from man to woman (or vice versa, but that’s for another reason). Although this seems kind of harsh, if you understand the entirety of Orthodox Jewish law, you’ll know that it’s quite restrictive from a Western perspective but there are great reasons for everything.

    My main problem with Blue Fringe’s use of a love song was not this, though. My main problem was that they used the words of Song of Songs as a proxy to sing a love song. They took something quite holy and often misunderstood, constructed a loose interpretation open to interpretation, and called it a song to G-d when it clearly is not. This was my main gripe with their love song.

    BTW, I do play guitar and have composed some songs. Perhaps you should take your own advice :
    “5. accept that you might be wrong, and have the wisdom to admit it. we learn and grow by making mistakes, it’s ok.”

    Comment by keyboardguy — August 16, 2005 @ 9:06 am

  16. I just wanted to comment that i am going to have to side with keyboardguy on this one. Anonymous, I understand the point you are trying to make, that music acts as a medium to convey or communicate a message. The question you should ask yourself is, what message should be conveyed? As you mentioned in your post, we should not underestimate the power of music. Anyone who has watched a movie and has witnessed an emotionally moving scene, accompanied by an emotionally moving background melody played by the strings section of some orchestra, knows the power of and how much it can effect our emotions. Why, music can even bring us to tears! So with that in mind, what can you say about a band that bases its musical sound,(and this is something that they themselves have acknowledged) on a number of famous, non-jewish musicians. It would make you think that the point this band was trying to convey was almost a non-jewish one, yet hidden under a mask of “jewish themes” and hebrew words. The truth is halachically, even if one were to rely on a heter to listen to non-jewish music and even to go so far as to listen to the music of a female vocalist, by relying on another heter of recorded music, love songs are still unequivoceally, not permitted. In this case, the love song under discussion is based on the love we have for G-d. That is true. But of all the verses in all of jewish writings that describe our love for G-d, why did they choose this one? It’s as if Blue Fringe, as they often seem to enjoy doing, is trying pushing the limit. They have already done so in previous songs, (i.e. Flipping Out)which I won’t get into.
    Anyway…if your point is to support the individualistic style and artistry of this song under discussion, then you do have a valid point. Different people enjoy different musics and you are entitled to your own personal tastes. But if your point is to proclaim that this song fits under the category of “good, clean, meaningful” Jewish music, then i believe you are mistaken and you are missing the point of Jewish music. The point of Jewish music is to help bring us closer to G-d, not closer to the rock and roll culture that is so antithetical to a relationship with G-d. Why surround such beautiful words, describing our undying love for Hashem, with a tune that would be just as fine if played to the words of a completely secular love song.
    Also, i feel that it is extremely petty of you to make accusations and personal insults against keyboard player. It doesnt make your point stronger but in fact makes you look like a weaker person in need of putting others down to get ahead. If you appear to be a weak person, then it makes your points and comments appear weak as well.
    Great Blog Keyboardguy
    – Jack

    Comment by Anonymous — September 30, 2005 @ 12:35 pm


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