Alfred Apaka / Axel Stordahl & His Orchestra

Broadway Wears a Lei

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Broadway Wears a Lei Review

by Adam Greenberg

Originally released back in 1958, this classic album of Alfred Apaka's glorious vocals mixes some basic Broadway show tunes with pop arrangements of Hawaiian compositions. The whole of the album is done over the top of a thick carpet of the lush string arrangements that were so popular at the time, and perhaps made the exotic Hawaiian songs a bit closer to the mainstream for the average listener. The string arrangements seem a bit of an overkill now, perhaps, but the star that rings out despite this is Apaka's voice. Before Don Ho was particularly well known, Apaka had his deep baritone warbling out love songs at a level to compete with Bing Crosby (but with more intensity than Bing tended to use). Given the material chosen for this album and the number of recordings made before and since of those same compositions, it's the performance itself that makes this album worth hearing -- Apaka's vocals deliver. That said, however, one should really look into the slightly more traditional albums of his work that were recorded in the same time period. With less (or hopefully none) of the contemporary string arrangements, and more of the traditional Queen Liliuokalani compositions (though there is luckily one here), the star can really come out for what he should be remembered for instead. Fans of Apaka should be thrilled to find this one re-released, but newcomers should look for a different side of his abilities first.

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