Various Artists

Hawaiian Memories 1936-1947

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A collection in the long series of prewar, pre-tourist Hawaiian music on Harlequin, this album is comprised entirely of transcription discs -- large records made specifically for radio broadcasts and which were mostly lost or destroyed after a time in rotation. Hollywood and hotel bands (which performed in various movies) helped spread Hawaiian music during these years, when it reached a high point in its popularity. This was the time of lazy steel guitars and bouncing vocals. The steel guitars don't necessarily hit the full levels of sliding virtuosity as achieved by current artists, but they show some worthwhile prowess while setting the stage for future growth. When a non-steel guitar is used, the sound often seems extraordinarily similar to concurrent developments in string jazz in Europe. Most often, the focus turns to a solo singer laying out an extra smooth ballad with breaks of steel and ukulele solos in between verses. The fully instrumental songs follow a similar course, with various solos taking the place of the singer. This album is at once nostalgic of the prewar aesthetic and exoticism of Hawaii and, musically, thoroughly enjoyable on its own. It's at times relaxing and, in other moments, quietly jumping; but, to some degree, it's always musically innovative (for its time), and pleasing to the ear. These rarities from radio are sure to please, especially for those already fans of Hawaiian music.

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