Produced By Bob Johnston! Includes Three Bonus Tracks!
The Bureau B label presents a treasure from Israel's incomparable Maria Callas of pop & folk, Esther Ofarim. Her eponymous solo album from 1972 has been given the new title Esther Ofarim In London. Analogue fans can look forward to a fresh 180 g vinyl pressing. This masterpiece was produced by no lesser figure than Bob Johnston, famous for having produced legendary albums by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Simon & Garfunkel.
Esther Ofarim In London sounds both composed and confident. Attentive listeners will hear a forceful orchestra behind what is a tender, fragile atmosphere. This bombastic, yet intimate quality is exactly what the producer was aiming for. The tracks were recorded in three sessions at the Command Studios in London, where Johnston enlisted the British arrangers Nick Harrison, Will Malone and Bob Merci. Once the recordings were completed, Johnston flew back to his home town of Nashville to mix the tapes. The extent to which he reduced the instrumentation in some places was nothing short of drastic. On one track, he removed almost the entire orchestra, leaving a basic framework of guitar, bass and electric piano.
Johnston and Ofarim displayed wonderful intuition in their selection of songs, with compositions by Leonard Cohen sitting comfortably alongside some by Johnston and the musicians he worked with at the time. The result is a gently shimmering necklace of poetic pearls, sung by one of the most sweeping, heart-rendingly beautiful voices in folk/pop history.
As one has come to expect of Bureau B releases, this reissue comes complete with a wealth of detail, rare photographs and an interview with the artist Esther Ofarim.
The 180g LP contains three bonus tracks: the A and B sides to a single which was recorded later in Nashville itself by Esther Ofarim and Bob Johnston, plus one track from the London sessions which, inexplicably, did not make it onto the original LP. This, then is a world premiere.
"Given Esther Ofarim's association with Scott Walker and a crypto-experimental pop coterie in the early-'70s U.K., it's reasonable and accurate to assume spillover on this collection of her work in London. Tackling a variety of familiar standards from recent and not-far-distant chart smashes, Ofarim's voice is certainly enjoyable enough and the performances are usually quite elegant. If nothing is completely bowled-over amazing, it's often gently entrancing, however familiar a number of the warhorses have become over time. If anything, the better comparison point to be made might be less Walker than Tim Buckley's own orchestral explorations. The striking take on "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" steers well clear of the Roberta Flack take in favor of something that could almost be a Jane Siberry interpretation, while "Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye" flows as an understated rumination. "Gnostic Serenade" takes things to a nice level, though, with a bit of glam descent in the verse and a generally ruined and beautiful superstructure of music that gives Ofarim a chance to build up slowly -- if it ain't Karen Carpenter it's not that far removed, really. "Song of the French Partisan" has the same big melodrama as Joan Baez's "Here's to You," if less anthemic in favor of something fragile and about to break." - allmusic.com
• 180g Vinyl
• Produced by Bob Johnston
• 2009 Reissue
1. Waking Up
3. Gnostic Serenade
4. Boy From the Country
5. Song of The French Partisan
6. El Condor Pasa
1. You're Always Looking For the Rainbow
2. Morning Has Broken
4. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
5. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
6. I'm Your Woman
7. Waking Up