Although a parade of pop artists recorded Hawaiian material between the '20s and '50s, none of them are as associated with it as Bing Crosby -- who could have (and did) populate an entire hits collection with only his Hawaiian-themed songs. In the early '60s, Crosby was briefly signed to Reprise Records, the new home for the best vocalists in traditional pop, but his only solo-billed record was this one, from 1963. It's an overlooked gem, recorded with Nelson Riddle, who understood more than any other arranger of his era how to bring exotic sounds home to American shores without proceeding directly to overkill. Riddle employs strings slightly more than on his classic arrangements, but they're sweeping and lush -- completely in keeping with the material. Crosby sounds not merely comfortable, but fully relaxed in these songs. The opener, "Return to Paradise," a movie theme from a few years earlier, is the perfect place to start; not with some frothy hula dances, but a warm and reflective ballad wrapped in Riddle's strings, which ebb and flow in an obvious homage to ocean shores. The rest of the record balances a few wistful ballads like the first with light novelties that employ the lap-steel guitar and ukulele that's de rigeur for a Hawaiian LP.
AllMusic Review by John Bush