Island Mele

John Berger



"What They Say"

Mr. Tripp
Way Out West

It's probably inevitable that Mr. Tripp's debut album sounds like a Sudden Rush project. Sudden Rush's "Radical Rob" Onekea produced it with an assist from Shane "Dynomite" Vincent, and the two of them co-wrote all the songs.

Sudden Rush guests on one track, and three of its four members -- Vincent, Don "Don One" Kawa'auhau and Caleb "Red Eye" Richards -- sit in individually on other tracks. Add Aziel on another song, and B.E.T. on yet another, and there's little room left for Mr. Tripp to stand out as an individual artist on these excellent ensemble performances.

Nevertheless, this is powerful and polished work in all aspects. No one creates a tighter or more commercial blend of rap and local-style reggae than Onekea and his partners. Given their contempt for remake acts, it's no surprise that all the songs are originals. Kawa'auhau adds generalized political perspectives with "Burn Like Babylon."

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "What They Say"
Bullet "Burn Like Babylon"
Bullet "1 Luv"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"One Blue Eye"

Jim Major
Stink Eye Records

Jim Major appears to be speaking to the alienated and the lonely with this album of well-crafted, original guitar-oriented rock. He provides a clue to the story behind one song but leaves it completely up to the listener to decipher and assess the lyric images of the others. For instance, "NYC 5am" mentions the torment that can come when thinking of what might have been, but who are the "kids" mentioned, and does this matter?

"She Only" appears for a moment to be a variation of a country hit before moving in a completely different direction. Catchy guitar riffs and a strong lyric hook give this one pop-chart potential.

Clean somber arrangements -- some up-tempo hard rock, others soft and embellished with cello -- make the music interesting as well.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "She Only"
Bullet "Angels Fall"
Bullet "NYC 5am"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"When Hawaii Calls"

Lani McIntire and His Hawaiians, Vol. 1
Cumquat Records

This Australian anthology is a great introduction to Lani McIntire's work as a Hawaiian band leader, vocalist and songwriter during the 1930s and '40s. Some may now find the music quaint, but this is the style of Hawaiian and hapa-haole music that was embraced by millions of people around the world, and each selection has an unpretentious charm and romantic ambience.

McIntire's repertoire included Hawaiian standards reworked for the pop tastes of the era, newly written hapa-haole songs that have become standards, and borderline pop stuff to which he brought a Hawaiian feel. His blending of Hawaiian and hapa-haole music with mainstream American pop had broad appeal.

Among the many gems here are recordings by two legendary Hawaiian performers -- Ray Kinney and George Kainapau -- who performed with McIntire's orchestra.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Hame Pila"
Bullet "My Wahine And Me"
Bullet "Moonlight And Shadows"
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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