Record Reviews

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, March 14, 1997

Anthology flyin’ right

The Best of Flyin' Hawaiian Productions Vol. II: Various artists (Flyin' Hawaiian Productions)

FLYIN' Hawaiian principal Lester Gantan dug into his archives for this 17-song sampler of prior releases. He's worked with an eclectic assortment of local artists over the years, and they're represented here by pop, Jawaiian-lite, pop-rap and other styles.

Many of the songs were written or co-written by Gantan. Brief explanations of each selection's significance aid the listener in appreciating this fine cross-section of Gantan's work.

The best entries include two songs displaying his talent as a recording artist: "Princessa" is an instrumental that should be getting play on Hawaii's "beautiful music" radio stations; "Diana," written by Gantan and Glenn Medeiros, and recorded by Gantan as a member of 5:05, commemorates the still-unsolved murder of Diane Suzuki.

Few Hawaii rap groups have been more than posers. Fewer have stood the test of time. Three cuts by Club Rox Rock - "Rock 2 the Rhythm," "It's Christmas Time" and "We Need A Hook" - sound surprisingly fresh after five years. Where are C-Roxers Lionel "XL" Wright and Duane "Dynamic D" Oyama today?

Glenn Medeiros' "Break These Walls" is also notable. So is Quintinn Holi's ode to his infant daughter ("Baby Love"); it's an original,. A third standout is "Hey Local Boy," a dead-on piece of local pop that showcases vocalist Lokelani Mitchell.

Forte: By Forte (Cinnamon Red Records)

IF imitation is flattery, then Matt Young, Lori Salvatera and Tenderoni will find this album quite a compliment, since similarities can be found between Forte's new disc and the latter three's work.

For instance, producer Young included a guest rapper and an undistinguished remake of an old song by Seduction on Salvatera's 11-song first album. Forte has a guest rapper and two uninspired Seduction remakes on this nine-song first effort.

Forte went up against Tenderoni in the 1995 Oceanic Road to Fame competition and lost. Forte's handlers now present their act as Tenderoni-lite.

"Tu Sonrise," a bilingual showcase for Gissele "Gee" Tejada, is an exception to the duplication. The arrangement is less remarkable than it could be but Tejada redeems it with the emotion in her voice.

Tejada teams up with Joanne "Jo" Banda on "I'll Give it All to You." Banda sings with a sweet innocence that belies the implications of the lyrics. Tejada proves her versatility as Forte resident rapper and neophyte writer. Kristina "Kay" Babaran shows promise as solo vocalist on an otherwise generic remake of Stacy Lattisaw's 1980 hit, "Let Me Be Your Angel" (Marlene "Sweets" Baldueza is the other member).

Forté is, left to right, Kristina Babaran, Marlene Baldueza,
Gissele Tejada, and Joanne Banda.

What the album needs and doesn't have is a song with the instant impact of "1-4-3 Means I Love You," the song Tenderoni wrote for Salvatera. What it has and definitely doesn't need in addition to the Seduction remakes is a remake of Whoopi Goldberg's remake of "I Will Follow Him."

The song has been in Forte's karaoke bar repertoire from Day One and was used when they unsuccessfully challenged Tenderoni. This remake of a remake lacks the emotional intensity Little Peggy March delivered in the original 1963 hit. Forte's handlers goofed badly on this one.

"Reach Out" adds a fresh up-tempo song courtesy of musician/arrangers David Tucciarone and Timmy Pajimola. That's a definite plus.

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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