Saturday, February 10, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 10, 2001

Island Sounds
'Elua Kane, Dennis James Lee sample past and present

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Audio sample of "Paddle To The Rising Sun" by Elua Kane. in mp3 or RealAudio format. RealAudio requires a plug-in.

"PADDLE TO THE RISING SUN" by Elua Kane, Hula Records, CDHS-612

Elua Kane, comprised of Tau Greig and Damien Farden, are known for their renditions of hapa-haole tunes. This collection capitalizes on the duo’s breezy, backyard harmonies, anchored to old and new songs that speak of a laid-back, easy-going Hawaiian spirit.

The title tune, composed by Greig, typifies this mood.

A paddling advocate, he has created a light, bright ditty about paddling off the Windward coast, with mentions of Flat Island, Lanikai and his canoe (dubbed K*ne o Lahaina).

Many tunes are in English, such as the castaway-mood "On a Coconut Island," the oldie by R. Alex Anderson, and the very nostalgic "Down by the Shack, by the Sea." (Don Ho still sings "Shack" in his shows, as an audience-participation number).

Others, such as the joy-of-eating tune "Pipi Kaula," is rendered in Hawaiian; happily, liner notes reveal that what sounds like a romantic tune really is about jerked beef.

Similarly, "Hoi Mai Huli Hoi Mai," in Hawaiian, is a singular joy because of its unblemished simplicity; this is the old Alvin Isaacs favorite.

If hula’s your thing, you might latch onto and explore the bubbly, contagious serving of two Johnny Almeida oldies, "P*nini Puakea/Green Rose," which sound like a happy marriage in Elua Kane’s hands. It’s certain that some h*lau may pick up this medley for practice sessions.

And surely, Dennis Kamakahi’s classic "E Hahiwai" retains the essence of the original, about a freshwater limpet found in Molokai’s Halawa Valley.

In sum: A grand journey from two creative voices.

Audio sample of "Smile" by Dennis James Lee. in mp3 or RealAudio format. RealAudio requires a plug-in.

"SMILE" by Dennis James Lee, Leapfrog Productions, LFCD 2001

Dennis James Lee grew up amid the vibes of Kalapana, Cecilio & Kapono, Country Comfort, Elton John, The Eagles and Journey; his CD debut this year reflects this early influence.

An entertainment industry veteran, Lee is venturing into movie production, but that’s another story. The former Manoa resident is launching a singing career with this disc (and a first-time appearance Valentine’s night, when he joins The Krush and Honolulu in a Valentine’s shindig at the Esprit nightclub).

His sound is definitely pop with an occasional dash of Island flavor.

For instance, "Smile" is a love ballad that has appeal to adult romanticists; it’s an Aswad original. Two Teddy Randazzo originals, "You Are Beginning to Grow on Me" and "Everytime," suggest some jazz juice, in spirit and in execution.

The "covers" are sweet and respectful of the originals, but allow Lee to add his personality; "Mother and Child Reunion" (Paul Simon) and "Now and Forever" (Richard Marx) are memorable.

And "I Will Be Here" (Steven Curtis Chapman) also throbs with romantic overtures.

Then there’s a remake of "Mambo #5," with reworked lyrics by Alwyn Erub, the CD’s producer, which turn the tune into a Korean mixed plate (kim chee, kochu jang sauce, chili water, kalbi).

A pair of Ken Makuakane originals link him to the Islands; "Hula Girl" is a tender ballad with multiple voice trackings, exposing Lee’s upper registers, and "When I Hold You in My Heart" could emerge as Lee’s Valentine’s trademark.

One niggling complaint: Somebody failed to proofread the liner notes; there are awkward typos.

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