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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, January 23, 2005


Baba B. returns with a multiflavored CD

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Baba B.'s back in a big way — serving up an easygoing brew of love songs with local hues.

A popular Kohala family — the Lims — return in a tidy compilation of old favorites.

And finally, a Kaua'i kumu hula and singer looks to establish a statewide following with a collection of traditional Hawaiian tunes. Some new, some old.

"SQUEEZE ME, TEASE ME" by Baba B.; Rebel Records

Genre: Island rhythms.

Distinguishing notes: Homegrown, home-brewed, Baba B. serves a heaping helping of musical delights. Led by the theme-setting opening cut, "Still Your Big Boy," Baba shares his local lyrics and dance-aimed syncopation with wholesome and romantic fervor. With occasional accent on Jawaiian tempos, it's mostly easy-listening, easy-grooving stuff. "Chevy" is a cruise down familiar turf, with Big Teeze and Papa T. of B.E.T. adding precision and pulsation along the way. The title tune has a listener-friendly 1950s flavor in arrangement and vocal riffs, but a contemporary tease with rap inserts.

A revival of "The Way You Look Tonight" is delivered with tenderness, introducing the classic love song to a new generation of listeners. "Two Moms" is a poignant entry, with familial implications, "Get You in My Bed" is thematically forthright and may jar the otherwise melodic tone of most of the album. There's also a straightforward, no-frills, old-fashioned ballad in "I Just Want the Best."

The outlook: Baba B. shows maturity and grace in his fifth album. Production values are crystalline clean.

Our take: This is the big boy's best effort.

"Still Your Big Boy" by Baba B. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

"LAUNA'OLE (UNEQUALLED)" by the Lim Family; Poki Records

Genre: Compilation of traditional Hawaiian.

Distinguishing notes: In the annals of Hawaiian music, the Lim Family of Kohala stand tall as a family that has "it." They won a talent contest in 1978 and caught the ear of the late producer Bill Murata. This CD extracts 16 tracks from five previously released albums that distinguish the Lims as musicians and artists with a sound of their own.

The family includes Elmer Lim Sr., guitar and vocals; Mary Ann Lim, 'ukulele and vocals; Nani Lim, uke, tiple and vocals; Elmer Lim Jr., lead guitar, slack-key guitar, steel guitar, vocals; Lorna Lim, electric and acoustic bass, vocals; and Donna Lim, ipu. Their signatures include "Pua Olena," "Po La'ila'i," "Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai," "Leo Nahenahe," and "Moanikeala," but there's a bounty of other treasures worth re-examining.

The outlook: The simple, untarnished sound from "country" Kohala still reverberates with fresh flavors.

Our take: Great talent is timeless.

"Pua 'Olena" by the Lim Family. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

"NA HANA A KE ALOHA (THE WORKS OF LOVE)" by Leilani Rivera Bond; Leilani Records

Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

Distinguishing notes: Kaua'i-born Leilani Rivera Bond, the kumu hula daughter of veteran Garden Island performer Larry Rivera, continues to blossom with her seductive vocal work. She reflects her affection for the 'aina, 'ohana and things Hawaiian, putting her own spin on a few popular titles.

She also composes, so some of her music is personal and reflective of environment and upbringing.

The title tune is just one example of this artistry. It's a song giving lovely life to birds, hala leaves, the moon and other elements in her world. She interprets her father's trademark song, "Kamalani," giving it her own glow. She also revives Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom's "Palehua" with reassuring grace. For her kumu posture, examine her chanting on "Huhulu 'I'i Ka Hulu O Ka Manu," a mele speaking of the love of the land, specifically Hanalei.

The outlook: This is Bond's third CD and likely the one that will finally bring her statewide recognition.

Our take: Sweet Leilani, heavenly songbird.

"Na Hana A Ke Aloha" by Leilani Rivera Bond. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

Reach Wayne Harada at 525-8067, wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, or fax 525-8055.