Island Mele

John Berger



"Pride of Punahele II"

Various artists
Punahele Productions

Punahele Productions has epitomized high standards in the local record industry ever since the release of Keali'i Reichel's debut album "Kawaipunahele" in 1994. Excellent production values are the norm, acoustic pianos and string quartets are used where other labels might cut corners with electronic keyboards and song lyrics and translations are provided in beautifully designed CD booklets. Other artists have taken note and this second "Pride" anthology is a perfect portrait of the current ohana.

Reichel's recording of "The Road That Never Ends" is one of the gems. Willie K's beautiful treatment of "Meleana E" is another. "Fires of Pele" invites a look back at a relatively obscure album by Ernie Cruz Jr., while "Lahainaluna," featuring Reichel with the men of Ho'okena, adds a new recording to the collection.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Fires of Pele"
Bullet "Meleana e"
Bullet "Lahainaluna"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"There's a Time for Everything"

Dominant Rhythm

Jawaiian bands are a dime a dozen, but Kupa'a, an earnest young trio from Maui, has come up with a fresh idea. "Hunting Hawaiian Style" is a rollicking reggae-style celebration of the joys of hunting for pig -- sending the dogs out, making the kill, dressing the carcass then and there and carrying the meat out. The song is one of six by band member Erland Pahukoa and an obvious pick for local radio play. Most of the other originals are also Jawaiian tracks. Two in particular -- "CJ's Song" and "Heaven Is the Place to Be" -- are honest if awkward requiems for dead friends and relatives. The inclusion of three popular local tear-jerker remakes add to the feeling that Kupa'a is still pretty much a backyard band, despite the presence of the several studio musicians on the album. But to be "backyard" isn't necessarily bad, however, and "Hunting Hawaiian Style" is a promising signature tune for the band.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "There's A Time For Everything"
Bullet "Hunting Hawai'ian Style"
Bullet "Heaven Is The Place To Be"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info




Nina Keali'iwahamana
The Mountain Apple Co.

Jack de Mello took Hawaiian music places it had never gone before throughout the 1960s and early '70s. De Mello's vision as an arranger and record producer often exceeded the capabilities of the local record industry, and he sometimes traveled as far as London to find the recording studios and studio musicians he needed. These digitally remastered recordings provide a beautiful retrospective on his productive partnership with one of his favorite Hawaiian vocalists, Nina Keali'iwahamana.

De Mello's lush, expansive orchestral arrangements are as enchanting now as they were 30 years ago, and Keali'iwahamana's glorious soprano is perfectly showcased. The liner notes contain some background information, but for the benefit of her longtime fans who already have her previous albums, this 15-song anthology includes everything from her "Ho'okahi" album and four songs from an earlier album also titled "Nina."

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Ku'u Ipo I Ka He'e Pu'e One"
Bullet "'Akaka Falls"
Bullet "Hawai'i Aloha"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See the Columnists section for some past reviews.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Today
section on Fridays for the latest reviews. Contact John Berger at


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