Doc Martian's Lounge: July 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Many Moods of Waitiki

Paradise Lost & Found: Songs of Hawaii Old and New - Various Artists but mainly Waitiki and Randy Wong

Magic Island Sounds: the wedding album - presented by Helen and Randy of Waitiki

OK. These two albums are off the beaten track for Waitiki (now incarnated as Waitiki 7). Neither are as good as the Waitiki core albums, but as there is a long way to fall from those, I'm still recommending both of these albums. Think of them as Sister Street Fighter to Sonny Chiba's The Street Fighter trilogy, not quite as good but still far from easily dismissed.

The first one consists of a number of musicians, most of whom are members of Waitiki with some additions such as Jim & Liz Beloff, Denny Moynahan "King Kukulele" and his band The Friki Tikis & Chris Kamaka. It contains a number of old school (practically 20s novelty-era) Hawaiian songs with a focus on slack-key and a bunch of more traditional (for Waitiki) Martin Denny-styley soundscapes. Most of the examples of the first style hit me wrong at first, mebbe it was cuz I had a headache, mebbe it was cuz I'd become accustomed to the polished jazz brilliance of Waitiki's usual fare. I was even considering saying something about The Captain & Tennille: Live from Waikiki, but upon repeated listenings and relief from pain I feel that is uncharitable. The sugarsweet novelty style grew upon me and now I find myself tapping my feet along happily instead of tapping my feet and feeling my feet are betraying me! That'll teach ME not to trust my feet. The other 7 or 8 songs on the album are the melodious wisdom that fans have come to expect from Waitiki. Groovy bass, vibes, flute strains floating around, be-bop hip snare. Good stuff that sounds even better after a few listenings and familiarity with some of Waitiki's standards. The only thing its lacking is a new version of L'ours chinois.

That (another L'ours chinois version) you'll find on Magic Island Sounds, an album commemorating Helen & Randy Wong's January 2009 wedding. This album is slightly restrained, no howlin' bird calls, or raunchy jokes about the ex, perfect fer company of mixed generations to drink champagne to. About half the songs have been presented in slightly less dignified form on previous albums, don't let that stop you though. This is the album to slip onto the changer at that family formal gathering so that you don't look out of place in your 70s acapulco-style ruffled tux with your fruit salad of a drink. You nut!