Esther Ofarim

Melodie einer Nacht

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Within just a few years of starting her recording career in the early 1960s, Esther Ofarim had recorded in several languages, including Hebrew, French, Italian, English, and German. Not all of the tracks on this 20-song CD are in German, but most of them are, and it's certainly oriented toward the German audience, presenting material she recorded in Germany (all but one track in Munich) between 1963 and 1966. Ofarim had such a diverse repertoire, even for a pop singer devoted to all-around entertainment, that it's difficult to reflect the range of styles on display here in a relatively short review. If you like early-'60s-style pop with hints of rock and kitsch, however, you're probably going to enjoy much of this, though it won't be everyone's cup of tea even within those parameters. Ofarim's vocals are assured and pleasing, but these recordings might be more notable for the interesting and tasteful orchestral production (often by Peter Thomas), as well as songs that have a similarly charmingly dated, innocuous but catchy feel. Though not as bland as much of what found success at the '60s Eurovision song contests, there are similarities in the pan-European vibe of the arrangements. They have an earnest yen to appeal to wide audiences while drawing from bits of bloated pop, light girl group influences, and even jazz, country, Merseybeat, and (on a cover of "Dirty Old Town," of all things) folk. It's done with more taste than many such efforts, though, and usually makes for a guilty pleasure if you have any bent for early-'60s pop of most stripes, with faint echoes of everyone from Brenda Lee and Lesley Gore to Cleo Laine, Dusty Springfield, and Paul & Paula. The duets with Abi Ofarim (of which there are just a few) are sometimes unbecomingly cloying, but even these hit the mark on occasion, especially "Schönes Mädchen," which has a moody jazz-tinged rock swing worthy of a modern film noir soundtrack. The liner notes are in German, with a thorough sessionography for all of the recordings on the CD.

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