Island Mele
Friday, November 23, 2001

By John Berger



"Guava Soul"

Bla Pahinui (The Mountain Apple Co.)

Few local artists are more distinctive than Bla Pahinui. "Guava Soul," recorded with Third Degree as his studio band, is his latest bold step forward in modern Hawaiian music. Third Degree is best known as a blues band, but proves the perfect partner as Pahinui presents 12 island standards in fresh new forms.

From the first notes of "Island Style" through the final moments of "Ei Nei," each familiar song is interpreted with originality and imagination but without losing its original essence. How many people would put accordion or flamenco guitar on a Hawaiian album? Pahinui's vision as an arranger has never been sharper; his skill as a musician and the unique timbre of his voice have never been more evident.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Island Style
Bullet Manuela Boy
Bullet Ei Nei
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info




Reign (Reign label)

Smooth soulful harmonies, imaginative arrangements by Kale Chang and the work of sequencer Michael Grande come together in one of the most impressive local debut albums of the year. The harmonies are in the classic R&B tradition of the Ink Spots and the Orioles, the mixes and rapping reflect current "Urban" charts, but Chang creates something fresh in almost every song.

Reign's urban-pop take on "I Fell in Love with Honolulu" introduces a promising new genre of hapa-haole music. A medley of Sting songs is particularly notable among several imaginative pop-chart remakes.

"Pono," one of two Chang compositions, is the first of several songs expressing Reign's Christian faith. Reign comes close to running out of ideas in a song or two, but closes strong with another Christian medley.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet I Fell In Love With Honolulu
Bullet Pono
Bullet Why?
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"No Ka Honua Maluhia"

Ali'i Manu (No label)

Ali'i Manu recorded for one of Tom Moffatt's labels in 1987 and released a 10-song vinyl album. He later released a second album recorded with the same musicians. This is the second of two new CDs that contain different combinations of the songs from the original vinyl albums.

Manu and arranger Clyde Pound tried something original in setting Hawaiian and hapa-haole standards to piano and synth-track arrangements. The sound is dated, but with Pound on keys and Manu singing falsetto, this is an interesting time capsule.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Sweet Someone
Bullet I Kona
Bullet Kalama Ula
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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