Record Reviews

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, November 8, 1996

Anela solos;
falsetto triumph for Ho‘opi‘is

Country Comfort digitally remastered

Anela: By Anela (Innovative Productions)

Anela creates a diverse mix.

ANELA Kahiamoe was a founding member of Island Band in the late '70s and participated in last year's Island Band reunion, but has been most visible in recent years as a member of Timmy Pajimola's reorganized Night Wing band.

Kahiamoe and his longtime manager, Pete Seymour, teamed with Pierre "Petelo" Grill to record this followup to his 1994 cassette-single, "Aloha Wai 'Ia 'Oe."

Kahiamoe shows talent as vocalist, musician and song stylist in his latest self-titled 11-song collection. He sang almost all the vocal parts and played most of the instruments. Grill's collection of keyboards provided much of the additional instrumentation; Grill's talented daughter, Alexandra, guests on Kahiamoe's revival of the Beatles' "White Album" standard, "I Will."

Few local artists would dare record Genoa Keawe's signature "Alika." Kahiamoe and Grill offer a fresh perspective on the song, avoiding any hint of Keawe's arrangement.

Also noteworthy is a pleasant and palatable remake of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 hit, "Down on the Corner." Kahiamoe and Grill add local slang and Caribbean rhythms but avoid indulging in "Jawaiian" cliches.

"My Hawaiian Tita" is a rehashing of Los Del Rio's "Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)" with sanitized pidgin lyrics added. Depending on how long the dance fad lasts here this remake-of-a-remix could be a surprise hit or a quickly dated embarrassment. A local classic this is not.

Ho‘omau: To Perpetuate:
By the Ho‘opi‘i Brothers (Mountain Apple Company)

Ho'opi'is tap falsetto talents.

THE Ho'opi'i Brothers - Solomon and Richard - check in from Maui with this outstanding musical calling card. From the first riffs of "Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua" through the final bars of "Telephone to Glory" it is a perfect introduction to the brothers, and to the sound and traditions of Hawaiian falsetto in general.

Several celebrity guests embellish the brothers' performances. Led Kaapana, Jerome Koko and Genoa Keawe are the most prominent; Keawe is showcased on an 8-minute jam-style rendition of "Alika." Keawe's featured performance makes the album a perfect "two-fer" for falsetto fans by including Hawaii's foremost female falsetto singer along with Sol and Richard.

The brothers are in great voice. The collection stretches from unattributed kolohe Hawaiian-language standards to modern classics. Longtime fans will applaud Richard's solo vocal on "Puamana," a first solo for him.

"Come Into My Heart," written by Sol, reflects the brothers' Christian faith. No anthology of local Christian music would be complete without a song like this from the Ho'opi'is. Isle residents familiar with Hawaiian music will also enjoy the brothers' renditions of ever-popular staples such as "Ei Nei" and "Koke'e."

Producer J.W. Junker's 10 panels of annotation provides a detailed overview of the history of Hawaiian falsetto, the cultural context and basic meaning of each song, and the significance of the Ho'opi'i Brothers.

If you buy only a handful of newly recorded Hawaiian music albums this year make "Ho'omau" one of them.

The Very Best of Country Comfort and Billy Kaui - Classic Collectors Series Vol. 4: Country Comfort and Billy Kaui (HanaOla)

When Mike Cord inaugurated his catalog of digitally remastered out-of-print island classics with a series of albums representing the best of Irv Pinensky's Trim and Mele labels he responded to criticism of the bare-bones packaging by conceding the point and promising to upgrade everything when the initial run sold out. Cord has kept his promise as the rerelease of this anthology - and added three additional songs to the album.

All the biggest hits of Country Comfort - and Billy Kaui as a solo artist - are here. "We Are The Children," "Sun Lite, Moon Lite," "Waimanalo Blues," "Pretty Girl," "Mr. Reggae" and "Sunny" top the list. "Honky Tonk Wines" is a token entry from the uptempo end of the repertoire.

Extensive annotation, photos of the group at the Sugar Mill Lounge, and a rare shot of Kaui solo, have been added to make this a first-rate retrospective, comparable to Cord's superbly packaged anthologies of Territorial Era Hawaiian and hapa-haole music. The old black-and-white edition is now a collector's curiosity; this one's definitive.

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.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.

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