Analog Adventures: Fifty Gates of Wisdom
Fifty Gates of Wisdom
Known as the ‘Madonna of the East’, Ofra Haza gained international success with Fifty Gates of Wisdom. The album was originally released in 1984 in Israel as Yemenite Songs, but it was re-released for a western audience after several successful music videos. The songs remained the same but were in a different order. The album is an exploration of traditional Yemeni Jewish music, modern pop rhythms and production, and the words of 16th century poet Rabbi Shalom Shabazi.
The inside of the gate fold.
The record is a gate fold, opening up to show the lyrics and a paragraph introducing the work of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi and defining what being a Yemeni Jew means to Haza. She mentions her parents being a strong influence in her musical upbringing, saying she wanted to combine the melodies and rhythms of her parents music with pop sensibilities. The photographs show Haza in traditional wear in stunning detail. For those who want to expand their musical palette beyond the typical western canon of pop music, this is a readily available and accessible record. It is fairly common and a good clean copy can be purchased on Discogs and other online retailers for less than $10.