Various Artists

Vintage Hawaiian Music, Vol. 1: Steel Guitar Masters (1928-1934)

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In the 1880s, Hawaiian native Joseph Kekeku invented the Hawaiian slide guitar style by moving a metal bar (Kekeku originally used a metal comb) up and down the neck of the guitar and raising the action of the strings. By 1920, the sound became embodied in the thousands of National guitars which flooded the market. Between invention and mass marketing, many top Hawaiian players brought their unique music to the States and throughout the world. The world, in turn, went hula crazy, and the effects can be heard in the bottleneck playing on many country-blues sides and the dominance of pedal-steel guitars in country music. This rounder companion to a Hawaiian singer's showcase collects prime 78s cut between 1928-1934, a period considered to be the golden age of Hawaiian music. Standout players include master guitarist Sol Hoopii and the svelte playing George Ku; while Hoopii goes in for some jazz on "Lady Be Good," Ku sticks to the traditional hula on "Na Ali'i." This song variety gets reflected in the gamut of bands on the collection, including a Mexican trio and a German salon orchestra (apparently, Teutonic countries especially took to the music). The recordings were made all around the world too (U.S., Japan, etc.) and take in a mix of hula rhythms, jazz, sweet dance band music, and south of the border love songs. Highlights include one of the earliest known recordings of "My Little Grass Shack" and Jim & Bob, the Genial Hawaiians' smooth and lowdown "Hula Blues." A perfect introduction to the music.

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