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Island Mele: ‘25 Greatest Hawai‘i Albums of the New Century’
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / firstname.lastname@example.org
Rolling Stone magazine has made itself the subject of ridicule in recent years with its lists of the “Greatest (fill in the blank) of All Time” — as if “all time” only began around 1940 and doesn’t have billions of years yet to run.
‘The 25 Greatest Hawai‘i Albums of the New Century’
(Mountain Apple Company)
Now, with only 87 years to go until the year 2100, “The 25 Greatest Hawai‘i Albums of the New Century” has followed Rolling Stone’s example by announcing the 25 greatest “Hawaii” albums of the century. That’s a period of 100 years, folks! Songs from 12 of the 25 are included here.
The producers conform to the pattern set by the producers of the seven Hawaiian category Grammy Award-winning albums by including the work of male and female vocalists, steel guitarists, ukulele players, falsetto singers and slack key guitarists. Although this album contains no instrumental songs there is much diversity within the Hawaiian musical traditions represented here.
The use of the word “Hawai‘i” rather than “Hawaiian” in the title is the key to the project. Given the many genres of music recorded by Hawaii-resident artists — from Go Jimmy Go to the Angry Locals, Don Tiki to Kings of Spade, Sing the Body to Paula Fuga — making the list about “Hawai’i” artists rather than “Hawaiian” artists is appropriate.
For instance, it allows the compilers to put an acoustic pop song by John Cruz on the album alongside 11 that are either Hawaiian-language or traditional hapa-haole. It also allowed them to include albums by Anuhea (#11), Jack Johnson (#12) and The Green (#25) on the original 25-album list. Number 13 on their list is an anthology of recordings by John Kameaaloha Almeida (1897-1985) that were made in the mid-20th century but re-released in this century.
There is then a bit less ethnocentrism evident in this project than on the infamous Rolling Stone lists. On the other hand, who can say that no great Hawaii albums will be recorded between 2013 and 2100?
Calling this album “The 25 Greatest Hawai’i Albums of the Decade” would have been much more sensible and realistic.
The market for CD anthologies is shrinking with each passing day but this is at the least a convenient last-minute Christmas gift.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at email@example.com.