Island Mele

John Berger




Polyriddim Music

Tabu is, in fact, singer/songwriter Lani Pulotu rather than a self-contained band -- but this would be a remarkable album in either case. It's a multilingual project that blends urban R&B, hip-hop, techno, rap, Polynesian and reggae in ways that are both imaginative and commercial. Add a memorable vocalist and "Polynesia" is worth hearing.

B.E.T. is the added hook that should make "Partytime" her first local hit, but an impressive reworking of "Rainbow Country" into "Polynesia (Rainbow Country)" is also perfect for local radio airplay. Tabu's Tongan pop songs have a good vibe -- "'Ewa Mai Ki Tonga" in particular -- but more meaning would've been added to this debut album if liner notes were included. Similarly, a straight remake of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" shows that, while Tabu can also do Eurythmics material, no reason is offered for choosing this song.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Polynesia (Rainbow Country)"
Bullet "'Eva Mai Ki Tonga"
Bullet "Partytime"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Tani Lynn"

Tani Lynn
Afterthought Entertainment

Tani Lynn Fujimoto and her producers of years past made bad choices with material inappropriate for a preteen, so it's great to note there are no such problems now that she's working with Jason Lent and élan of Afterthought. The three wrote all but two of the songs, and although Fujimoto is now 15 and of dating age, none of the lyrics suggest she is in a hurry to leave her innocence.

Producers Lent and élan emphasize Fujimoto's maturing appeal with arrangements that draw on proven mainstream genres. "Cryin'" suggests an early Mariah Carey without the excessive melisma. "Someday" has an up-tempo Janet Jackson vibe. An reworking of Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" as an acoustic ballad is particularly memorable both as an idea and for the shadings found in Fujimoto's interpretation of it.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "I'm Gonna Be Loved"
Bullet "Cryin'"
Bullet "Waiting In Vain"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Island Love Shack 3"

Various artists
Neos Productions

Despite the impact of shared music files and CD burning, there is evidently still a strong local market for anthologies like this one. "Island Love Shack 3" has several hits by international reggae stars (Steel Pulse, Alpha Blondy) mixed in among the work of local music innovators (B.E.T.), mainstream Jawaiian acts and island rappers. A local pop track is included that doesn't fit the reggae-beat format, but fans of this kind of music can expect to like almost everything here. Kids who've been looking for an oldie or two may find this an economical way to get them without ripping off the artists.

What's missing here is background information on the artists and their music. While "kanakafarians" know who Damien Marley and Chaka Demus & Pliers are, the unknown local acts who perform three new songs would certainly benefit from a few notes telling buyers who they are and what they're up to.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Take Me Down"
Bullet "It's Alright"
Bullet "Wrap Your Arms Around Me"
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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