The 25 Best Hawaiian Albums - Evah ! !

 25. Alfred Apaka Live (Hula) - Hawaii's "golden voice" in airshots mostly from broadcasts of radio's "Hawaii Calls" in the early and mid fifties. Apaka shows his mastery of the ballad with "Honolulu Eyes" and "I'll Weave A Lei of Stars For You" among others. In these historic recordings you will hear the "voice of the Hawaiian kings" that captivated listeners all over the world during the post war era. The songs are interspersed with nostalgic and interesting commentary that will give listeners a picture of Hawaii during the last two decades of territorial status.

24. Hawaii's Falsetto - Joe Keawe Returns (GK - Genoa Keawe ) - One of the masters of this most unique style of Hawaiian music. The soaring high notes, the vocal swoop to mid range and back again, is a joy to hear. Contains his trademark tune "Yellow Ginger Lei" and great renditions of "Pua Lelia", "Kauoha Mai" and many others. The backing quartet of Jesse Kalima, Jake Koke, David Kali'i, and Sam Aiko is superb.

23. Hawaii's Songbird - Lena Machado (South Seas) - The legendary voice of this historic performer is preserved on a fantastic collection of tunes from a prolific career. Included are "Huu Wa Liilii", "Hoonanea", "Kauoha Mai", and "U'i Lani". A recent re-issue will make sure that Machado will not be forgotten.

22. Island In Your Eyes (Mountain Apple) - The Brothers Cazimero (Robert and Roland). Another Jon deMello produced gem, the Cazimeros sing the title song and use it to frame the rest of the tunes in this collection. Some of these tunes are "Moloka'i Sweet Home", "Aloha Kaua'i", "Listen To The Music", "Na'ale O Ni'ihau" and even a movie song from the remake of the motion picture, "Mutiny on the Bounty". The brothers Caz show once again, their mastery of the musical styles that make up the blend of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian sounds.

21. Hulas of Hawaii (GK - Genoa Keawe) - Genoa Keawe, the "first lady of Hawaiian music", puts a great set of hulas recorded for her own record label in the mid sixties. She has some great voices helping out on the tunes including Vicki Rodrigues, and one of my personal favorites - Pauline Kekahuna, Violet Lilikoi, and Benny Rogers and Joe Custino. Along with one of my favorite tunes, "Haleiwa Hula", there is also "Pua Laniuma", "Lumahai", "E Kuulei E Kuuipo", and "Ka nani Ao Kao" and others. A great collection by a performer who has been wowing audiences for more than a half century. Mahalo Auntie !

20. My Son Pua (Waikiki) - The two generations of Almeidas - John K. whose influence touched just about every performer of Hawaiian music from the forties on, and his son Pua, a gifted singer and guitarist (both Hawaiian steel and acoustic), with a collection of tunes that remain a cherished memory of both of these remarkable musicians. The songs include "Akaka Falls", "Hanohano Hanalei" and "Girl In The Yellow Holoku".

19. Cracked Seed - The Sunday Manoa (Panini) - The trio that led the movement to restore the importance of the music and the culture of Hawaii. This effort features their version of "Pua Lilia", and other standouts are "Na Moku Eha" and "Beautiful Kahana". Together with the album Guava Jam, this collection gives an example of the talents of this inventive group of musicians led by Peter Moon and has along the way included the Brothers Cazimero, Cyril Pahinui,and Albert Kalima Jr.

18. Hawaii Calls - Songs of the Golden People (Lehua) - This mid seventies release is a kind of swan song to the international voice of Hawaiian music since 1935. By then the show had become more of a nostalgia piece than anything else, as TV and radio variety shows were from a bygone era, and the music of Hawaii itself was undergoing a kind of re-invention. But here one more time, is the four decades old format, with a huge array of performers going out in style. Included are Danny Kaleikini and his regulars from the Kahala Hilton-Penny Silva, James Kaopuiki, and Joe Recca. Also here are Barney and Norman Isaacs, Joe and Lani Custino, Benny Kalama, and Nina Kealiiwahamana. Great additions to the cast are the incomparable Charles K.L. Davis, Melveen Leed, and the late Pua Almeida with his send off version of "Across The Sea". The cast does a wide range of tunes from "Sands of Waikiki" to Queen Liliuokalani's "Kuu Pua Paoakalani".

17. From Irmgard With Love (Mountain Apple) - The eternally wonderful Irmgard Farden Aluli and her family group called Puamana ( daughters A'ima MacManus, and Mihana Souzas, and niece Luana McKenney), and featuring guests Jerry Byrd, Mahl'al Beamer, and Anuhea Brown). Some of the great names in Hawaiian music perform a well rounded collection of songs which include my all time favorite, the Irmgard written "Puamana", and also "No Hulahila", "E Malio Ma'i", "One More Round" and "At The Copacabana". Irmgard, from Maui has had a long and varied career both writing and performing in Hawaiian music (how about a CD reissue of the tunes that Irmgard recorded with Annie Kerr ?), and here is a wonderful opportunity to experience this great music. Mahalo, auntie #2!

16. Ia Oe E Ka La (Nakahili) - Palani Vaughn - Lost in the shuffle over the years this is this three volume commmemorative collection of traditional Hawaiian music performed by Palani Vaughn in honor of King David Kalakaua - (vol. 1 on the 100th anniversary of his reign, vol. 2 on his 50th birthday celebration in 1886, and vol.3 on the memory of the king). A number of chants and hulas are performed on these volumes including the title song, "Akahi Hoi", "Kui Ka Lono", "Ka Hanu O Evalina", "Nalohia Ka Makua", and the anthemic "Bless Our Homeland Forever". This is a bit of history and a lot of musical tradition.

15. Danny Kaleikini Live - At The Kahala Hilton (Hula) - After Alfred Apaka, Haleloke, and Don Ho, Danny is probably the most recognized performer of Hawaiian music outside the island state. For many years he was a mainstay in the cast of "Hawaii Calls" taking over for Webley Edwards in the last few years of it's network run. This recording gives the listener the full atmosphere of his well produced show covering the full range of the music of the islands. During the mid-seventies this was the most in demand show (outside of Don Ho at the Reef Towers in Waikiki), and Kahala was a perfect setting. Some of the tunes during this well paced presentation are "Malihini Mele", "Beautiful Kahana", "Pa'Au'Au Waltz", "Waipi'o" and "He'eia". Danny, along with Penny Silva and James Kaopuiki and his band make this a musical interlude to remember.

14. Honolulu City Lights - (Paradise) Keola and Kapono Beamer - A collection of songs given the excellent vocals and slack key guitars of the Beamers, another one of the great names in Hawaiian music. Musical highlights are the title song, "Nanakuli", "Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua", "Seabreeze", and "Only The Good Times". This recording was one of the first to win the Hawaiian music Hoku award for album of the year, and its greatness over the years has not dimmed.

13. How About Uke? - Wizards of the Ukulele (Lehua) - Featuring Ohta-San (Herb Ohta), Eddie Kamae, Jesse Kalima, and Eddie Bush on the instrument of choice. Some of the tunes given the uke wizardry are "Liliu E", "Pua Maeola", "The Kamehameha Waltz", "Kukuna Oka La", "Akaka Falls" and the descriptive tune "Adventures In Paradise". A welcomed exhibition of excellence on the most Hawaiian of traditional instruments, and a superb introduction of this form of Hawaiian music to those not familiar with the possibilities of the ukulele.

12. Two Slack Key Guitars (Tradewinds) - Two masters of that most unique form of guitar, the slack key style are featured here - Gabby "Pops" Pahinui and Atta Isaacs. This great collection has been re-released twenty five years after its initial issue, so a whole new generation of listeners can hear these musicians do their stuff on tunes such as "I'm A-Living On A-Easy", "Kealii's Mele", "Manuela Boy", "Vaya Con Dios"and "Ka Ua Noe". Two interesting medleys are featured - marches and waltzes. Joining in the musical festivities are two more Isaacs - Alvin Sr. and Norman, along with Harold Hakuole and Albert Kaailau, Jr.

11. Ho'Oluana (Poki) - Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau. The transition record for Bruddah Iz as he makes his first solo appearance on the song "Nohili E". Nostalgia abounds in the tunes "He Inoa No Pi'ilani" which tells about a childhood remembered on the Big Island. The days of the Matson line and the SS Lurline, and even earlier ocean voyagers are recalled in "Hulalalai". Along with Iz, the brothers Koko ('Boogie' and 'Keone') and 'Moon Kauakahi leave us all with a wonderous expression of musical greatness in "Ali'i I'olani","Pua Ala Aumoe", Ka Hanu 'O Evalina" and "I'll Remember You". From the years of brother Skippy's leadership to the development of Israel, the Makaha Sons have left a lasting legacy of memorable music.

10. Tropical Storm- Peter Moon - (Panini) Along with Randy Lorenzo, Witt Shingle, Bobby Hall, Merv Ching, and Milt Holland. The title song is a superb leadoff to the selections such as "UFO", "Ka Lei E", "The Ballad of Keawaiki", "Island Love", and "Kailana Na Pua". This is the first of the great trilogy of albums (along with "Cane Fire" and "Black Orchid" ) which made Moon the definitive artist of Hawaiian music in the decade of the nineteen eighties.

9. Hahani Mai (Punahele) - A wonderful collection of vocals by Kekuhi Kanahele, interwoven with a number of "Mele Ka'i" (song of the sea) selections on this 1996 release. Some of the featured songs are "Pua Milo", "Pualani Lei", and "Lovely Hinahina". The presentations of the songs interspersed with more traditional styles make this an intriguing recording. Kanahele makes a memorable contribution to the world of Hawaiian music with this great collection.

8. N Dis Life (Big Boy) - Israel Kanakawiwo'ole with another expressive and important recording. Iz who joined brother Skippy as part of the Makaha Sons of Niihau, stayed with that group for seventeen years (Skippy passed away in 1982), until he went out on his own in 1993. His tragically short lived career as a solo artist was quite remarkable as this album will prove. The songs include "Na Ka Pueho (Keyhole Hula)", "Yokozune", the traditional "Hi'ilawe", the title song and the very topical (and possibly autobiographical) song "Johnny Mahoe". Another 'must have' from Bruddah Iz.

7. The Hawaii Calls Show (Capitol) - A commercially recorded (in full stereo) vintage late fifties broadcast of the eternally successful radio program that presents the music of Hawaii to the world. All the ingredients are here : top notch vocals (by Pua Almeida, Haunani Kehalewai, and Nina and Boyce), the orchestra and chorus under long time director Al Kealoha Perry, and the genial hosting by Webley Edwards. An audio snapshot in time, and an indispensable part of the discovery of music of Hawaii. A wide array of chants, hulas, ballads, and hapa-haole tunes are presented in this fast paced presentation.

6. Hawaiian Tradition - (Mountain Apple) Amy and Willie K. Amy is Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, and Willie K. is Willie Awihilima Kanaiali'i, and both are long accomplished musicians on the Hawaiian musical scene. This collection features many original songs by the pair and includes "I Ka'aina Kaulana", Hale Ali'o Waimaka", "Ho'i I Ka Punana", "Ua Noho WauI Neia Kaulana", and "Pili Mai No I Ka Ihu". The title of this CD tells you what is in store, and with a modern presentation these two marvelous performers show their own version of "Hawaiian style".

5. Lei Hali'a - (Punahele) - Keali'i Reichel, is perhaps the number one performer and interpreter of Hawaiian music as we move into the new millenium (for proof check out his showing at the 2000 Na Hoku Hanohano awards). The modern treatment of Hawaiian ballads "Ku'u Pua Mae'ole" and the title song are wonderfully sung, "Now and Forever"and "Sweet Memory" live up to their titles, and the chant "Maikai Ka 'Oiwi O Ka'ala" is a stunning counterpoint to the set. Reichel shows why he is thought of as one of the most important personalities in Hawaiian music.

4. Guava Jam (Hula) - The Sunday Manoa - The landmark album that led the so-called renaissance of Hawaiian music in the early seventies. Peter Moon and company perform "Kawika", "Heho Waipi'o", "Maika'i Ka Mana", "Poli Pumehana", the title song and many others. It has taken its place in history as one of the most important albums of Hawaiian music ever released, and the beginning of the new direction in Hawaiian islands music. It is a cornerstone of any modern collection of the music of Hawaii.

3. Rabbit Island Music Festival (Panini) - Gabby Pahinui and sons (Cyril, Phillip, Martin, and Bla) with Sonny Chillingworth, Atta Isaacs, Randy Lorenzo, and Joe Gang. Not a live recording in the usual sense, but a musical collection framed by the sounds of the birds ('eva-'eva) on little Rabbit (Manana) Island. The vocals by Gabby and the mellow guitars make this set really something special. For me the ultimate highlight is "Hale'iwa Hula", a tune with a beautiful melody and a feel for nostalgic memories.

2. Facing Future (Big Boy) - The incomparable Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Hawaii's beloved "Bruddah Iz" with a selection of tunes that show why Iz was the man of the nineties (he sadly passed away in 1997). The haunting song "Hawaii 78" frames the album with its melancholy lyrics concerning the changes in the land and the culture of his people, much of it not for the best. "Ka Huila Wai", "Panini Pua Kea", and the descriptive tunes "Kuhio Bay" and "White Sandy Beach of Hawaii" are standouts by this most unique performer. An absolute must.

1. Waimea Music Festival (Panini) - Some may refer to this event as a "Hawaiian Woodstock", but that would not even come close to the true story of the importance of this event and the landmark recording of it that has stood the test of time to become,in my opinion, as the greatest Hawaiian music album ever produced. It came about at a time when there was great change in the performance and perception of the music. The Waimea Festival stands as an affirmation of the spirit of the music and the people who make and listen to this expression of Hawaiian culture. It featured both the roots and the future of the music, and has remained a crossroads in time. Performing that May afternoon at Paniolo Park were the Waimea Ladies with a musical aloha, Na Leo O Nuuanu, slack key master Fred Punahoa, The Sunday Manoa (the Brothers Cazimero and Peter Moon), Sonny Chillingworth, the Gabby Band (with "Pops"Pahinui, sons Cyril, Bla, and Philip, along with Atta Isaacs, Sonny Chillingworth, and Manuel Kupahu known as Joe Gang), and it concluded with a blistering set by Genoa Keawe backed up by the Sunday Manoa and Atta Isaacs. Auntie's set would be worth the price on its own, but all the other performers united by their talents, gave this once in a lifetime listening experience an indelible imprint from which to chart the future history of this unique art form. This recording is simply the best ever.

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