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Friday, November 20, 1998



Pride of Punahele
Various artists (Punahele Productions)



A compilation well worth
four-year wait

Producer Jim Linkner and his Punahele Productions partners mark four years of cutting-edge Hawaiian music with this beautiful anthology of recordings by Keali'i Reichel, Uluwehi Guerrero and Kekuhi Kanahele. The liner notes say that this isn't a "Greatest Hits" album, but it contains some of Reichel's most popular songs. "Kauanoeanuhea," "Kawaipunahele," "E O Mai" and Puakea Nogelmeier's whimsical "Toad Song" top the list.

Comparable selections from Guerrero and Kanahele make this a perfect introduction to contemporary Hawaiian-language music.

All three are talented and distinctive vocalists, and the Punahele production team -- Linkner, Reichel and Fred Krauss -- have always done first-rate work in recording them. Where most local record producers would use a synthetic string section, they use a real string quartet. That commitment to quality adds to the impact of the artists' work.

Hawaiian lyrics, English translations, and background information is included in the extensive annotation. Friends of Reichel, Guerrero, Nogelmeier, Kanahele and her husband, lyricist Kaipo Frias, will likely decipher multiple kaona (hidden meanings) concealed in the lyrics.

The final track is a new Reichel song, "Maunaleo," co-written with Nogelmeier in honor of Reichel's mother. It should already be on its way to becoming his next hit.

At least one prior local album had a CD-ROM track on it, but Punahele is moving further into the new technology. Buyers with Windows-compatible CD-ROM gear will find two video clips of Reichel in concert, the lyrics and translations of the 15 songs on the album, and instructions for going online to a Punahele web site and other points. The video clips also can be programmed to serve as screen savers and bring Reichel's music to the work place.



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