Various Artists

Honolulu: The 50 Greatest Hawai'i Albums of All Time

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A few months before the release of this compilation, Honolulu Magazine published a list of the greatest albums in Hawaiian music. Taking that as a starting point, Mountain Apple chose representative tracks from the various albums and created a compilation of the best (after dropping a good chunk of the list for purposes of time). The music roves from style to style, starting out with a bit of guitar and voice in a more traditional form from Olomana, then into a ballad from the great Israel Kamakawiwo'o. Softer, more contemporary singing from Na Leo Pilimehana continues the relaxed end, leading into a bit from an old Jack DeMello compilation direct from a Disney Family Theater production from the '60s, complete with lush string arrangements and choral work. Hapa is represented by an electric duet in Hawaiian, Willie K.'s sidekick Amy Hanaiali`i Gilliom sings a hula, and Willie K. himself shows up with some falsetto vocals to complement a modern set. Emma Veary provides a waltz from the days of Hollywood's exotica movement, and soon after another movement into the more contemporary is made with the Hawaiian Style Band and the Brothers Cazimero. Before the album is over, more exotica is touched upon by Nina Kealiiwahamana's lush arrangements (though they weren't done in an expressly exotic manner by that point) and Don Tiki's unabashed over-productions. Keola & Kapono Beamer represent slack key, Palani Vaughan has a very rhythmic piece with aspects of old hula, Rap Reiplinger provides some comedy, and the album finishes on another old Jack DeMello production with the classic "Aloha 'Oe." This album jumps from style to style quite often, and doesn't note the newer items from the islands (such as Jake Shimabukuro or Makana), which may simply be a result of focusing on the "classics." Nonetheless, it makes an excellent, if basic, primer for newcomers to Hawaiian music, and makes a good place to start, which is most likely its raison d'être.

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