8’s From The 808: Kalapana’s self-titled debut (1975)

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This album is one of many albums that were a big part of my childhood growing up. When this was released, it was as if the entire album was a single, since each song received massive airplay like crazy. You could not turn to KKUA, KIKI, K59, or KCCN in the mid to late 70’s without hearing “You Make It Hard”, “The Hurt”, “Going Going Gone”, and especially “Night Bird” and “Naturally”, it was truly the Hawaiian version of Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumors. In Kalapana‘s case, it was a style of pop rock that wasn’t evil like Black Sabbath or too sexual like Led Zeppelin. Today, there’s a name for what they did: yacht rock. But it was good music with an equal amount of mid-tempo tracks to ballads, from songs about getting high to wanting the company of a woman. Impressive for a debut album by a band who had no track record before this, they were not a supergroup and yet were treated as such. The group would release many more albums after this, but actually gained a massive following in Japan where they would release albums exclusively for that market.

35 years later, this album still holds true for me because I hear my youth, my world, my life when I was still in the single digits, and they were incredibly good times that I continually look back to for inspiration. The moment I hear the flute solo in “Nightbird”, my world stops and I take a break from whatever I’m doing. I’m home, and that will forever be where my heart is.


8’s From The 808: Cecilio & Kapono’s first album (1974)

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As far as Cecilio & Kapono‘s debut album for Columbia Records, it received as much airplay as Beyonce Knowles does today, you could not escape the power of C&K in the mid-70’s and who would want to. Not only did Hawaiians buy it, but transplanted Hawaiians who had to have this album. They were a bit like Hawai’i’s own Seals & Crofts, and people were proud of this. By being on Columbia, it of course made non-Hawaiians curious about this group that combined pop, rock, country, folk, and soul. The album frequently pops up at used record stores, thrift stores, and garage sales, proving its lasting power. Their cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “All In Love Is Fair”, with its lush orchestral arrangement, still brings a tear to the eye.

The album also reminds us transplanted Hawaiians of the “smile that are real”.

8’s From The 808: Genoa Keawe Sings Luau Hulas

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The late Genoa Keawe released loads of albums in her lifetime, but it was the albums she released in the 60’s and 70’s that influenced countless singers (both male and female) in Hawaiian music.

Luau Hulas (or Genoa Keawe Sings Luau Hulas was released by Hula Records and became a staple of every luau, baby shower, and weekend listening session. If you go to Hawai’i and find a station that plays old Hawaiian music, or any mainland show that specializes in Hawaiian music, 9 out of 10 times they will play Auntie Genoa, and this will be one of many albums to choose from.

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I’m curious to know if any Hawaiian transplants who became truckers on the mainland rocked this cart in their 18-wheelers.

8’s From The 808: The Kahauanu Lake Trio’s “Hapa Haole Hulas”

In the past when I’ve done Thrift Store Adventures I would talk about my love of the stepchild of music formats, the 8-track tape. Over the years I found myself documenting some of the 8-tracks that I would find from Hawai’i, or more specifically artists from Hawai’i who released albums in the 70’s on the cherished format. I did it to let people know that Hawaiian music was something that was on the 8-track format too, and it’s a way to honor a dead format while taking a look at a music, culture, and language that is very much alive. It’s also a way to show respect to my Hawaiian side, as some of these albums were personal favorites when I was growing up and discovering my music and culture.

If you find any Hawaiian 8-track tapes, contact me through my MySpace page. I will take any 8-track donations, although if you are able to make a scan of the tape itself, let me know and I will credit you in each post.

I decided to start this section again after finding two 8-track tapes of interest, so I began what I like to call 8’s From The 808. What I look for are 8-track tapes manufactured in Hawai’i on such labels as Hula, Lehua, Poki, Panini, and many others, true “local” 8-track tapes. In the CD era, labels would often reissue these albums with brand new covers or revisions that were not quite what the artist or album cover designer intended. I also like to find specific Hawaiian albums that were released on major labels. It doesn’t have to be traditional Hawaiian, it can be Hawaiian rock and pop like Cecilio & Kapono on Columbia Records, or pop/soul artist Dick Jensen on Philadelphia International, or of course Don Ho, who released many albums on Reprise before taking the independent route. What I’m not looking for are Hawaiian 8-tracks made by Reader’s Digest or any Elvis Presley-related Hawai’i tapes.

Let’s begin.

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This is The Kahauanu Lake Trio, who released many albums on the Hula label. Lake is a Hawaiian music legend, bringing his style of music and ‘ukulele playing to the forefront when the music was at its peak in the 1950’s and 60’s, and through the many changes the music went through in the 1970’s. His style was “old style”, but some would say “old style is the best style”. It was a way to get the music and language across and he did it with style and grace. This particular album featured Hapa Haole Hulas, which means the songs are a mixture of Hawaiian and English lyrics, the equivalent of what some know as Spanglish (songs with a mixture of Spanish and English lyrics). Hapa haole lyrics made it possible for the tourists to understand what was going on, and for the music to travel around the world. The album features their versions of “Kaleilehua”, “One Paddle, Two Paddle”, and “Hula Breeze”.

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