Island Mele

By John Berger

Friday, June 25, 1999


Another beauty from
Ho‘opi‘i brothers


Bullet Aloha From Maui: Ho'opi'i Brothers (The Mountain Apple Company)

RICHARD and Sol Ho'opi'i won Group of the Year honors at the 1997 Hoku Awards for their 1996 album, "Ho'omau." "Aloha From Maui" is just as memorable. The brothers' signature falsetto harmonies are as beautiful as ever. Ledward Kaapana (guitar), Bobby Ingano (steel guitar) and Chris Kamaka (acoustic bass) are the brothers' band.

The songs are an eclectic mix of modern Hawaiian standards. "Wahine 'Ilikea" is an instant standout. It has been recorded several times since Dennis Kamakahi wrote it in the '70s, but brothers succeed in personalizing it with no problem at all. The other 13 songs in the collection are interpreted with equal skill. This is traditional grass-roots Hawaiian music at its best.

Producer J.W. Junker didn't include the Hawaiian lyrics or English translations, but provides enough of an overview that anyone who does not speak fluent Hawaiian will at least learn the basic significance of each song. Quotes from Sol and Richard add further insights. Count this as one of most significant Hawaiian albums of 1999.



Bullet Roots Music: Various artists (Quiet Storm)

ISLAND record producer John Iervolino notched a national hit this month when this hybrid reggae anthology debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. Iervolino licensed the rights to six international reggae classics and grafted them onto a collection of recordings by reggae artists from Hawaii and California.

The original versions of the Naturalites' "Picture On The Wall" and Third World's "96 Degrees In The Shade" are the brightest gems, but the catchy refrain of Eddy Grant's "War Party" makes it a powerful political anthem.

New recordings by The Heartical Crew (THC) and Quiet Storm reggae act Ooklah The Moc add fresh material to the assortment of local material. The mood and material ranges from the sincere Rastafarianism of THC to the harder sexual reggae-rap of Jamin "Chief Ragga" Wong and the reggae-pop songs of other acts. Dread Ashanti, inimitable local reggae pioneer Butch Helemano, Backyahd, Sly Dog, Marty Dread, Natural Vibrations, and acts from California and England complete the package.

Detailed annotation includes an overview of the history and significance of each song and artist as well as the basic composer and publisher credits.

"Roots Music" isn't intended to be a comprehensive chronicle of reggae in Hawaii but rather a snapshot of the local scene as it is at the moment.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Home Zone
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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