Island Mele
John Berger



"Hawaiian Man Nostalgic Journey"

Buddy Fo
(FoWat Productions)

Buddy Fo has enjoyed a well-deserved resurgence in popularity since he returned to Hawaii a few years ago. The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and, given the precedent HARA set this year by giving a Lifetime Achievement Award to Hui Ohana, it's not inconceivable that he could receive another when HARA gets around to acknowledging the lifetime achievements of the Invitations as well.

In the meantime, Fo's solo album makes it clear that his personal list of lifetime achievements is far from complete. The title is an incisive description of where Fo is coming from with this delightful assortment of pop, jazz, and hapa-haole standards. Sparse arrangements spotlight his talents as a versatile musician and unpretentious solo vocalist. An acoustic jazz/pop feel prevails.

Sam Ahia does a great job as Fo's primary arranger and accompanist. Brass, bass and drums add interesting textures on some selections, but a bare bones arrangement of "Time After Time" -- with Fo singing and Ahia on guitar -- is perfect in its simplicity.

Fo further personalizes this musical self-portrait by sharing the significance of "Nani Waialeale" and "Mane'i Mai Oe," his reasons for recording "Calypso Blues," and other info in the liner notes.

FoWat Productions
53-031 Kamehameha Hwy
Hauula, HI 96717

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Quiet Village"
Bullet "Drinking Champagne"
Bullet "Pretty Red Hibiscus"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Back to Hawaii"

Stuart Nakai
(no label)

The most difficult and praiseworthy accomplishment a local pop or Jawaiian artist can aspire to is creating an album of memorable original music. Few local artists attempt it. Fewer succeed. Stuart Nakai introduces himself with one such rarity.

"Soul Redemption" should get him heard on progressive "island music" radio stations. Nakai deftly blends reggae rhythms, classic Top 40 chord changes, overdubbed harmonies, live guitar and bass, and synth-horns with sufficient finesse to reach pop fans as well as the Jawaiian crowd. "Irie Feelin' " is more Top 40 in style than reggae, but also right for the local pop audience.

A majority of Nakai's other songs are soft semi-acoustic pop tunes that express his insights as a romantic lyricist. Love doesn't always go well, however, and "Left And Never Meant to Stay" speaks for the victims.

E-mail stuart20074@hotmail.com

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "In Your Eyes"
Bullet "Soul Redemption"
Bullet "Left And Never Meant To Stay"
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Hawaii's Mahi Beamer"

Mahi Beamer

Hawaii received good news last fall when Hula Records worked out the details necessary to reissue recordings that Don McDiarmid Jr. produced for Capitol in 1959 -- first and foremost the album that introduced Mahi Beamer to American record buyers. Produced for reissue 45 years later, last year, by Donald P. "Flip" McDiarmid III, and with Gaye Beamer revising and updating the original annotation, it is a perfect introduction to modern Hawaiian music and the musical heritage of the Beamer family in particular.

Beamer's clear tenor and legendary falsetto are heard in all their youthful freshness. Classic recordings never lose their relevance. This album belongs in every collection of Hawaiian music.

EMI Music Special Markets
1750 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet "Halau Wai'anae"
Bullet "Ke Kalie Nei Au"
Bullet "Kawohikukapulani"
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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