Island Mele
Friday, August 10, 2001




"Ukulele Duo"
Ohta-San & Lyle Ritz - JVC World Sounds (VICG-60452)

Cut-and-paste has rarely worked better than it does with this unusual offering. The two ukulele virtuosos recorded six of the songs in 1993 and the other four earlier this year, but it would take a keen ear to detect which are the older or newer recordings. "Ukulele Duo" was first released in Japan but is now being released here by a local distributor.

As the first such collaboration by Ohta and Ritz, this album is a milestone. History aside, they play beautifully together. The songs are American pop standards played with an occasional hint of the blues. The arrangements are balanced to showcase both men's technique, and the interplay between Ohta and Ritz is intricate and exquisite. The absence of any other instruments allows even casual listeners to appreciate the contrast between Ohta's "standard" uke and Ritz's tenor. Detailed liner notes that include song-by-song analysis complete this excellent album.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy
Bullet Lulu's Back In Town
Bullet Bluesette
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Na Mele 'Auhau"
The Kahauanu Lake Singers - Hula Records (CDHS-9620)

No one is a more thorough conservator of Hawaii's musical traditions than Kahauanu Lake. That makes this CD single by his protegés, the Kahauanu Lake Singers, a major release for a couple of reasons. For one, Lake formed the group 10 years ago and this marks their debut as recording artists.

And the two songs featured here were written by Lake. "Kawena" honors his friend and colleague Mary Kawena Pukui. "Hole Waimea 'Elua" is an adaptation of the classic "Hole Waimea," updated and arranged for hula 'auana (modern hula). Finally, what makes this an especially noted release, is that Lake and his brother Tommy came out of semi-retirement to join the Singers' guitarist, Arthur "Atai" Akina, in backing the vocalists.

The vocal harmonies of Vernamae Perkins and Walter and Luana Kawai'ae'a complete the arrangements perfectly. "Na Mele 'Auhau" is one of the major releases of the year in traditional Hawaiian music.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Hole Waimea 'Elua
Bullet Kawena
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Thick Who?"
Thick Tubes - Tropical Jam Productions (TJP-00292)

Thick Tubes makes an impressive debut as this week's new local reggae band. They're obvious acolytes of Big Mountain and Jesse Dawn and do both those acts proud here. Almost every song is original and everything works well. With solid rhythms and incisive lyrics, expect TT to be around for a while.

Basic mainstream reggae predominates the album. The first song, "Shine," establishes that aforementioned Mountain/Dawn link and should be TT's first hit. Several other songs convey the Rastafarian religious doctrines to true roots reggae. "Mother Earth" speaks out against the continuing exploitation of the world's resources and "Give Thanks" expands the theme of unity to include righteous people of other faiths.

A song like "People" also shows that TT can also play good hard rock as well.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Mother Earth
Bullet Thick Tubes
Bullet People
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some 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.

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