Island Mele

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, January 29, 1999

Tropics flavor
Armadillo’s sound

Nowhere's Somewhere: Armadillo Island Band (Crystal Castle)

COUNT the Maui based Armadillo Island Band among Jimmy Buffett's musical progeny. Similar acts have called Hawaii home in recent years. Multi-talented guitarist/singer/song writer Armadillo and his band are as good as any of them.

The songs are generally about seaside life in tropical climes but not necessarily Hawaii. "Those Bikinis" sets the mood with a celebration of feminine beach wear. "Chicken Choker" is a clever and comic song of rejection. "All I Have Now" is a philosophical anthem on the nature of material wealth. Other songs tell of love lost and found, the search for self, and hope for the future.

The band gives solid support in styles ranging from Latin to soulful light rock; arrangers Armadillo and Trav Duro Jr. add substance by keeping synthetics minimal. Armadillo's liner notes put the songs in context and give a sense of who he is.

Slack Key Guitar: various (Palm)

GEORGE Winston's Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters Series has inspired great albums by other labels. This one isn't annotated to Winston's standards but the artists' performances make it a beautiful addition to any slack key collection.

Most of the soloists showcased by producer/guitarist Charles Michael Brotman are familiar: Ken Emerson, John Keawe, Bryan Kessler, Sonny Lim. The inclusion of Randy Lorenzo makes the anthology particularly noteworthy; he's a seminal figure in contemporary local music but not widely known as a slack key soloist.

Peter Moon Presents Juicy Fruits: various (MGC)

DESPITE the title this isn't the debut of a new group but an anthology of recordings by various people compiled by producers Peter Moon and David Choy. Some are veterans; at least one is an unknown. A squad of talented musicians and singers join Moon and Choy as the studio band but aren't credited song by song.

Of most instant interest is "This Must Be Love." It was written by Choy, sung by Rachel Asebido of Kaleo O Kalani, and has a classic 1970s jazz-pop sound that should make it a local favorite. Pauline Wilson stars in an imaginative reworking of "The Sand And The Sea." Palani Vaughan debuts as a local style rapper with "Warrior Of Peace," a warning against drugs and macho local boy attitudes. Moon adds elegant diversity with his interpretation of "Fur Elise."

A remake of "You've Got A Friend" is marred by pieces of a semi audible conversation and generic local pop synthetics. The sonic clutter detracts from the organic textures of Choy's sax and his talented but unidentified singers.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

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.

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