The art department at MGM should have won every award for this album. The jacket features a banana and pineapple decorated -- "Mr. Potato Head"-style -- with faces and arms and hands to play miniature bongos. The music has its unique aspects too. This we can expect from Leroy Holmes, one of the greatest record producers and soundtrack men, on a par with Kenyon Hopkins. Like most other Hawaii-Latin crossover albums (yes, there are a number of them), Hawaii With a Bongo Beat is neither very Hawaiian nor much of a percussion showcase. Phil Kraus on vibes and Osie Johnson on drums do ensure good performances, however. The tunes are all hoary old "Hawaiian War Chant" chestnuts, but that is okay. No one expects to hear great Hawaiian stars break out in song and ukulele. No, the true value of this lighthearted treasure is the chorus, Esquivellian in its wordless joy and inanity. In short, it isn't exactly a necessary album, but it sure is delightful and fun if quirky pop is your bag.
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