Island Mele

John Berger



"Royal Hawaiian Music"

John King

King's new album of ukulele instrumentals will delight those with a preference for traditional Hawaiian music. There are no electronic toys, gimmicks or synthesized tracks -- all the songs are 19th-century Hawaiian standards with ties to the monarchy.

A majority are from the pens of Na Lani 'Eha -- Kalakaua, Leleiohoku, Lili'uokalani and Likelike. Several others show the importance of Heinrich "Henri" Berger and David Nape as songwriters. "Ka Ipo Lei Manu" adds Kapiolani's best-known composition to the collection.

King's playing does justice to the composers and their melodies alike, and his liner notes provide a wealth of information for anyone hearing them for the first time.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Kalakaua March"
Bullet "Queen Lili'uokalani March"
Bullet "Ka Ipo Lei Manu"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Hawaiian Punk"

Various artists
Hawaiian Express

Hawaii has had a fertile underground music scene since the Tourists in the '70s and subsequent popularity of the Squids. A 1989 compilation, "No Place to Play," was the first significant effort at taking the music of a cross-section of underground bands to a larger audience. This colorful compilation serves notice that there is still a lot of underpromoted talent in Hawaii.

The 24 acts here range in style from howled obscenities to sharp social commentary. Pepper stands out as the one that has had at least a modicum of success with the mainland Volcom indie label.

There's plenty of high-impact music, but a sad lack of information about the bands. Info is available on the Web site, but less than half of the bands have links there. There's nada on the others. Welcome to the underground!

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Addicted to Pain"
Bullet "Hard Night Drinking"
Bullet "Why Don't Girls Like Me?"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"I'm Glad There Is You"

John and Maria Naylor
Cows & Pigs Productions

Guitarist John Naylor and his wife, Maria, step forward as a smooth, jazzy duo with this self-produced album of pop standards. Naylor's gently played guitar creates the melodic lines on arrangements he completes with bass and drum programming. Maria's voice captures the romantic magic of such standards as "How High the Moon" and "Embraceable You." The packaging shows that this is an essentially an upscale version of a demo, but the duo's work is worth hearing, despite the absence of backup musicians.

Maria shows an affinity for wistful and bittersweet songs, with "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "I Wish You Love" being two examples.

While there is some indication that this is a live recording, no crowd noise or onstage patter intrudes on the album's overall romantic mood.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "How High The Moon"
Bullet "One Note Samba"
Bullet "I've Got The World On A String"
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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