Island Mele

By John Berger

Friday, February 14, 2003



"Pacific Soul"

Pacific Soul
Pacific Dream

Don "Flip" McDiarmid was ahead of the market several years ago in leasing foreign albums for local release here, but other local distributors are now following his example. Pacific Soul, a Samoan group on a New Zealand label, has an album that is one of the best finds yet. It's an impressive calling card for the appealing female quartet and producer-arranger Sam Tuuga.

The soulful foursome performs Samoan-language songs and American-style urban material with equal skill. While translations aren't provided for the Samoan songs, their tight sound should connect with pop audiences on first play.

"Everybody" is particularly good, and "Alright," which has English lyrics but a distinctly Samoan sound -- and a faux-Jamaican guest rapper as well -- is a great example of international music perfect for local radio play.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Mamalu o Samoa
Bullet Alright
Bullet Everybody
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Boat Days in Hawaii
with Moana Chang"

Moana Chang
Hula Records

"Boat Days" were big events in Honolulu in the years before commercial air travel, and it was customary, back then, for passenger ships to be greeted and sent off with music. Moana Chang, a participant in recent efforts to re-create that old Hawaiian custom, does so here with a representative cross-section of both Hawaiian and hapa-haole songs that visitors might hear adjacent to Aloha Tower.

Tinny synth-track effects mar a couple of the selections, but most listeners will probably forgive Chang that error.

Visitors hearing these songs from shipboard would certainly enjoy the melodies of songs like "Alika" and "Pua Be-Still" but will be oblivious to their meaning. But the liner notes make up for that and even mention the ways Chang puts her own personal stamp on some of these island standards.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Alika
Bullet Pua Be-Still
Bullet Sweet Leilani
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Take Me Home"

Aloha Rukkus

Singer-songwriter Aloha Plunkett is the latest artist out of the Rukkus Entertainment/ Whodunnits ohana, which is headed by producers Chris Jay and Laiku Soares. Aloha is a promising discovery, and Jay and Soares show their keen marketing sense by positioning her at the intersection of local R&B and Jawaiian.

While a generic copy of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" is perhaps bait for local radio play, Aloha and the Whodunnits do better when recycling Barbara Mason's signature song, "Yes, I'm Ready." But the new songs -- several co-written by Aloha and her producers -- are just as commercial-sounding.

The title track expresses her love for Waimanalo, and a chanter and guest guitarist Kenneth Makuakane accentuate the beautiful island melody. A place song for the Big Island, "Kalapana," is a break from the overall formatted sound, and Aloha is in especially sweet voice.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Yes, I'm Ready
Bullet Take Me Home
Bullet Kalapana
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some past reviews.

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. Contact John Berger at

E-mail to Features Editor

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