Island Mele

By John Berger

Friday, July 2, 1999


Classics still
impressive on CD


Bullet Music of Hawaii, by Jack de Mello, The Mountain Apple Co.

Bullet Hear music clips (Requires Quicktime)

Jack de Mello's "Music Of Hawaii: From The Missionaries Through Statehood" made local music history in 1966. He defined the subject in the broadest terms possible ("Any song with an English lyric about Hawaii or any song sung in Hawaiian is a Hawaiian song"), and his scores were equally eclectic. de Mello started with the lush textures created with of a full orchestra, and then added Hawaiian percussion, studio choral groups, and solo vocalist Nina Keali'iwahamana, to put familiar songs in fresh perspective.

The initial release was a two-album boxed set. Three more two-album boxed sets followed. This new album makes 27 selections from that epic project available on disc. It includes Hawaiian classics, hapa-haole standards, Hawaiian pop hits from the mid 1960s, and the title songs from several Hollywood films that had Hawaiian or Polynesian settings. From the opening narration and a majestic arrangement of Hawaii's anthem, "Hawai'i Pono'i," on through to "Aloha 'Oe," it is an expansive and inspirational musical odyssey.

The arrangements and orchestrations are as impressive now as 30 years ago. And, as with the original vinyl albums, the disc includes background information on the context and significance of each song.



Bullet Music Anthology 2000, by Mike Victorino, Johnny Sweetbread Productions

Bullet Hear music clips (Requires Quicktime)

Indefatigable local recording artist Mike Victorino scores two firsts here. He is the first local artist to imitate the example of Prince Rogers Nelson in billing himself as "the Artist also known as Johnny 'Sweet Bread.' " He is also the first here to capitalize on Y2K by adding "2000" to the title.

Sudden Rush guests on "Intro Rap," an uncredited interpolation of an old rap song, redone as a comic bit on the alleged obtuseness of people of Portuguese ancestry. Other tracks show Victorino continuing to develop as a vocalist. "Wai-O-Ke-anini," and two originals, "Pali Breeze," and "Kahekili Highway," the latter performed by Victorino and his Loco Moco Band, are the most notable.

Although this is an anthology, no information is provided about when the tracks were recorded or released, but doing the album art on a color copier is a natural extension of the unpretentious Mike Victorino/ Johnny "Sweet Bread" concept. The tinny faux string effects used on several songs can likewise be tolerated as a cost cutting expedient used by a self-produced local recording artist on a tight budget.

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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