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Island Mele
Friday, March 23, 2001

By John Berger



Echoes of Our Songs

The Kamehamehans No label, no serial number

ONE OF THE brightest legacies of the Kamehameha Schools over the past century is the choral singing program. This album will be a cherished souvenir for alumni and a delight for anyone interested in Hawaii's choral music traditions.

The Kamehamehans trace their history back to 1954 when the group was known as the Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club. School anthems open and close a collection of island standards that celebrate the beauty and cultural heritage of Hawaii. One selection, "Ho'omani I Ka Makua Mau (The Doxology)," honors Hawaii's Christian heritage and the Protestant beliefs of the schools' founders.

The group evidently decided to record this disc as if doing a live show, and narrator Joe Sowa's song-by-song comments add another interesting facet to a fine album.

The Kamehamehans, P.O. Box 23057, Honolulu, HI 96823-3057

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Imua Kamehameha
Bullet Ho'omani I Ka Makua Mau (The Doxology)
Bullet Kamehameha March
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

Noisy Dreams

Jim Hubbard (JVH VJH03)

JIM HUBBARD enlisted a talented team of follow musicians in crafting his third album of original songs. File this under "adult rock," but Hubbard deftly explores several subgenres in the category including folk and acoustic blues. A track or two brings to mind Neil Young during his "Heart of Gold" period, or maybe Joe Walsh.

Hubbard uses a catchy reggae rhythm on "Change in the Coming Days" but does it without straying from his basic acoustic rock format. It isn't likely to get play on Hawaii's reggaephile "island music" radio stations but the arrangement is a great example of how an artist can use diverse sounds and textures to create variety while still maintaining a sense of cohesion.

Hubbard isn't a pop artist in terms of writing songs with catch-phrases or melodic hooks but he is an imaginative lyricist as well as a versatile composer.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Turn Around
Bullet Change In The Coming Days
Bullet Anytime Anywhere
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

Live: The Last Set

Ho'aikane ( Niho Mano NRCD-0101)

HO'AIKANE began as Hawaiian traditionalists and recorded three albums of unpretentious Big Island slack-key before switching record labels and going Jawaiian in 1989. The group's next three albums tended to epitomize the worst excesses of early Jawaiian music and local "kanakafarians" embraced them. The group changed labels again and recorded their first album for Niho Manu, "Ho'aikane Live," in concert at Fast Eddie's in 1992.

This album consists of unreleased material from that same show. It is a fine time capsule. Ho'aikane had evolved into a tight local bar band whose covers of Jamaican hits were losing the labored cultural affectations of early Jawaiian music. Call this "old skool Jawaiian" but it still has impact.

Ho'aikane moved into an imaginative blend of reggae, rap and rock with two subsequent Niho Manu albums, "Bulletproof" and "Massive." The new sound proved too progressive for "kanakafarians" and "island music" radio alike. "Massive" was the group's final studio album.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Down The Busy Street
Bullet Say I / Twist And Shout
Bullet Rastaman (Steppin' Out)
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some 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 Today
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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