Island Mele

By John Berger

Friday, April 9, 1999


Band’s style displayed
in new release


Bullet The Best of the Hawaiian Style Band
Bullet Artists: Hawaiian Style Band
Bullet Label Top Flight/Mountain Apple Company

Wade Cambern, Robi Kahakalau, Bryan Kessler and Merri Lake McGarry enjoyed almost instant success as the Hawaiian Style Band. Their music was a cosmopolitan potpourri of themes and tempos.

The band's first single, "Live A Little," won a Hoku Award in 1991. That upbeat anthem is the obvious defining track on this anthology album. Other highlights are "Sovereign Land," featuring guest vocalist Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole, "Rhythm of the Ocean" featuring Fiji, and "Heiau," a once controversial song originally released as a solo project by Kessler. (The song won him a solo Hoku in 1993 for single of the year).

The HSB's debut album, "Vanishing Treasures," won two Hoku Awards in 1993. The second album, "Rhythm of the Ocean," won a single Hoku in 1995.

Kahakalau and McGarry were gone by the time Cambern and Kessler recorded the final HSB album. The relative impact of each can be deduced by the fact that this 11-song collection includes five songs from the first, four from the second, and two from the third.

Anyone unfamiliar with the HSB will find this album a good introduction.



Bullet "In A Positive Vibrations"
Bullet Artists: Typical Hawaiians
Bullet Label Dinosaur Mountain Productions

If the Typical Hawaiians are indeed "typical," then Hawaiians are finding Jamaican culture more relevant than their own. Caribbean rhythms and faux Jamaican accents dominate as Thomson Enos, Taz Vegas and Bruce Zulueta debut with help from a squad of veteran musicians, singers, rappers and songwriters.

Credit the trio as promising talents in their chosen genre. Enos puts an anti-violence message to a basic reggae groove in "Positive Vibrations." Zulueta maintains much the same mood and attitude with "Bad Situation."

Vegas' "Crazy" is a local reggae-lite love song built around the distinctive stylings of guest rapper Jamin Wong. "If You Were My Girl" lets the trio go for it as reggae beat crooners.

"Local Girls," written by guest vocalist Shane Dudoit of Pound 4 Pound, is a pledge to put "local" girls above all others.

Dudoit also wrote "Early Morning Surf Session" and "Silent Prayer." His compositions add variety. So does producer Troy Fernandez's ukulele work on "Early Morning Surf Session." Fernandez's virtuosity would have added to the trio's routine remake of "Life's Different Now."

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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