Island Mele

John Berger



"Together as One"

Opihi Pickers
Go Aloha Entertainment

The Opihi Pickers have come a long way since their first awkward efforts as recording artists. They've also shown an admirable commitment to original music. A bright rendition of "Waikiki Chickadee," a Territorial-era classic, is the only song here that's from outside their ohana.

Multi-talented Imua Garza is not yet a polished lyricist, but he writes and sings with a youthful earnestness certain to connect with high schoolers. He expresses with evident emotion the pain of a bad relationship and the joy of finding that one true love that you feel will last forever.

The Pickers are officially a quartet but feature Shawn Ishimoto as a de facto fifth member on drums and percussion. Garza shares lead vocals with guitarist Kevin Okimoto and also plays several instruments. The others join them on solid instrumental arrangements, whether the style is Jawaiian or light pop.


Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Let's Call It A Day"
Bullet "You Were With Someone Else"
Bullet "Think Twice"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"A Place Called Hawaii"

Various artists

Internet radio personality Aloha Joe's third album in his series is an eclectic 19-song hodgepodge of island classics, recent releases, new recordings, and a song or two that may have been included for "political" reasons. Joe's affiliation with Michael Cord pays off since most of the brightest gems are from Cord's archives, i.e. songs by Country Comfort, Billy Kaui, the Surfers, Danny Kaleikini, and Jon & Randy's hit recording of "Hawaiian Eyes."

Joe is an avid promoter of Hawaiian music through his alohajoe.com Internet radio show, and the selections suggest that his listeners prefer ballads and mellow Hawaiian music. Imua's "Waimanalo Style" is the single Jawaiian song in the collection.

Getting in touch with Hawaiian artists can be tough for people outside the islands, and so Joe's concise liner notes include Web site addresses for most of the artists or their labels.


Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Take Me Home"
Bullet "I Do"
Bullet "Hawaiian Eyes"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"The 50 Greatest Hawai'i
Albums of All Time"

Various artists
Mountain Apple Company

Honolulu magazine hit pay dirt in June with a story on its take of the greatest Hawaiian albums of all time. Something like that is a guaranteed grabber, since controversy is stirred over the listings, the criteria and potential conflicts-of-interest regarding the people who made the selections.

This listing was no exception, and the fact that it was a list of "greatest albums" rather than "most popular songs" added a fresh twist, since some albums may have little more than one immensely popular song to recommend. (At least two hit compilations made the cut.)

This 17-song anthology presents an assortment of songs culled from albums that range in vintage from Jack de Mello's expansive orchestral productions of the 1960s through the relatively recent work of Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole and Willie K.

A television special is on the way and a book will be out in November.


Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Seabird"
Bullet "Hawaii '78"
Bullet "Kamehameha Waltz"
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 jberger@starbulletin.com.



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