Record Reviews

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, January 10, 1997

'Hawaii Calls' beckons again

Blue Hawaii - The Hawaii Calls Collection By various artists (Hawaii Calls Collection/Hula), CD

HULA Records principals Don McDiarmid Jr. and son Donald P. "Flip" McDiarmid III went deep into the vaults for this collection of classic performances from the long-running "Hawaii Calls" radio program.

Beautifully repackaged for rerelease on disc, "Blue Hawaii - The Hawaii Calls Collection" opens with Alfred Apaka singing "Blue Hawai'i" followed by Charles K.L. Davis' superlative rendition of "Waikiki." The disc closes with another Apaka gem, "Aloha 'e."

The other 11 selections include performances by Haunani Kahalewai, Danny Kaleikini, Nina Keali'iwahamana and Palani Vaughan, all of equal significance. Updated annotation and liner notes by Billy Rose add to the value of this beautiful anthology.

Hawaiian Wedding Song - The Hawaii Calls Collection By various artists (Hawaii Calls Collection/Hula), CD

Popular wedding medley deserves a second listen.

ALSO repackaged for rerelease on disc by Hula, "Hawaiian Wedding Song - The Hawaii Calls Collection" opens with Alfred Apaka and Nina Keali'iwahamana singing the ever-popular medley of "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and "Ke Kali Nei Au." Apaka fans will find several other gems to treasure; "Mapuana," "Beyond The Reef" and "Sweet Leilani." Performances by Haunani Kahalewai, Danny Kaleikini and Ed Kenney are also included.

Malihini may be surprised to learn that the English lyrics of the "Wedding Song" are not a translation of Charles King's older Hawaiian-language song. That fact is among the nuggets of Hawaiian musical history included in Billy Rose's updated annotation and liner notes. This is an excellent anthology.

Ka'ilialoha By Wailau (KKK Lilinoe Productions), CD-single

THE song "Ka'ilialoha" is a requiem for Jaydon Lee Ikaikakuoa'a Dahang, a 17-year-old student whose family wanted to mark his passing with music.

The song was originally produced by his mother, Shirley Ka'imiloa Dahang, as a memento for his friends (Mililani Class of '96). Christopher "Bully" Soares, Gordon Freitas and Elias A. Parker helped make her dream a musical reality.

Part Hawaiian chant, part English singing, the lyrics will likely comfort others who have experienced the death of a loved one.

The rather tentative vocal performance of Leiohu and Mitchell Ryder adds to the poignancy of the recording.

Sandii's Hawai'i By Sandii (Sushi Records), CD

JAPANESE vocalist Sandii came to Hawaii to record this 14-song collection of Polynesian and hapa-haole standards.

She has a beautiful voice and does quite nicely with the English lyrics as well; a slight hint of an accent only adds to the exotic appeal of "The Moon of Manakoora." Her renditions of "Kalama'ula" and "Waikiki" are also striking vocally.

Fiji, Robi Kahakalau, John Koko, Martin Pahinui, Lyle Ritz and Japanese slack-key guitarist Yuki "Alani" Yamauchi are among the artists who backed her, but Sandii is no "carpet-bagger" coasting on her guests' talents. Nor is she a foreign curiosity. Sandii shines in her own right.

Her album is a beautiful example of the international appeal of Hawaii's musical heritage.

Testament By The MissionIriez (no label), CD

THE Los Angeles-based Polynesian-American MissionIriez came to Hawaii to record their debut album, which addresses both secular and sectarian topics without rehashing reggae classics or affecting bogus pseudo-Jamaican accents.

"Shewolf" is a fresh portrait of the femme fatale while "Revelation" and the catchy "Upper Echalon" display the sextet's understanding of the cultural and religious roots of true reggae.

"Jah Blessings" is another celebration of Rastafarian faith, but "Reggae Dancin'" sounds like the song most likely to hit with Hawaii's oblivious skanking kanakafarians.

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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