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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 25, 2002

Compilations of reggae, Beatles await your ears

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Jawaiian, 'ukulele melodies, ki ho'alu — CDs with distinct appeal are new in the record bins.

Jawaiian flavor

"Keep It Together"

  • Artist: Typical Hawaiians (Bruce Zulueta, Taz Vegas, Thomson Enos).
  • Label: Cinnamon Red Records CRR0021.
  • Genre: Jawaiian, reggae.
  • Distinguishing notes: With a cache of originals from the group members (with O-Shen collaborating on "Strange Love"), Typical Hawaiians are an atypical troupe — leaders, not followers of the Jawaiian bandwagon. "One Thing," the opening track, is enough of a lure to keep you hooked through the bouncy journey; "Non-Stop" might be the buzz words for this trio.
  • The outlook: Variety amid the reggae format because of the fresh compositions. For this reason, might interest those who aren't into Jawaiian.
  • Our take: Fresh, pertinent and seductive stuff should help establish this group as something different.
"Strange Love" by Typical Hawaiians. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.

Beatles redux

"Ohta-san Plays The Beatles"

  • Artist: Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta.
  • Label: MH Records MHCD 2221.
  • Genre: Instrumental, world music.
  • Distinguishing notes: Ohta-san continues to let his fingers do the talking; and the chatter here is nostalgic, easygoing, reflective. He interprets 19 classic Beatles giants, from "And I Love Her" to "Penny Lane," from "Yesterday" to "Imagine."
  • The outlook: Ohta gets keyboard, bass, guitar, drum and occasional vocal support from a host of local musicians: Pierre Grill, Bruce Hamada, Jim Howard, Benjamin Doseo, Adam Baron and Ginai Johnston.
  • Our take: With the Beatles so ingrained into our culture, this quiet and romantic take is ideal for background dinner music, moments of solitude, or wee-hour unwinding.
"And I Love Her" by Ohta-san. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.

Slack-key star

"Aloha Kaikua'ana"

  • Artist: John Keawe.
  • Label: Homestead Productions HPCD 1006.
  • Genre: Ki ho'alu, instrumental; with a couple of vocal "extras."
  • Distinguishing notes: Keawe is one of the masters of Hawaiian slack-key, and his precision in and perpetuation of the genre is nothing short of remarkable. The clean sound transports you back to an innocent, tranquil time.
  • The outlook: There's a sweetness and caring to the menu here; some old, some new tunes, each rendered with quiet dignity and radiating charm.
  • Our take: Keawe's music takes you to places you know and have loved — or have visited only in your mind.
"Radio Hula" by John Keawe. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.