Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cecilio & Kapono back from the Day

Cecilio & Kapono (affectionately called C&K) were one of the most popular groups in 1970s Hawaiian Music and are certainly the most enduring group of the era. For the past thirty years they have been able to consistently sell out concert venues around the world despite the fact that they have not released an album of all new material since 1988's smash hit "Goodtimes Together." That album, and the following tour, was released to celebrate the pair's 15th anniversary even though they had been disbanded for nearly ten years.

They reunited for a year to support "Goodtimes Together" but then went their separate ways for the majority of the 90s.
In 1998 C&K reunited again to celebrate their 25th anniversary and promote the release of their excellent greatest hits collection "Journey Through the Years" and "The Journey Continues." They separated again until 2003 for a massive for a series of 30th anniversary performances at Kapono's Restaurant. This reunion became permanent as of this post and the pair has celebrated their 35th anniversary with their first album of all new material since "Goodtimes Together."
Their new album, titled "C&K", released in Sept. 8, 2009
This album is very catchy but it is rather short with only eight songs, the shortness may influence buyers in these tight times. Also four of the songs have been previously released, "Gather Round" and "Too Many Lovers," are available on the 2003 CD "Lifetime Party 30 Years of Friends." "Back in the Day" was released as a radio single in 2008 to coincide with the concert of the same name. And "Smooth Sailing" (a song that only C&K could pull off) was released as a free download on C&K's website. Those are actually the best songs on the album the other four are good but not equal to the above four. "Baby Mine" is very catchy and works well as a driving song. "Forever and For All" is one of those wonderful little Kapono love songs. The other two songs "That's Love" and "One More for the Road" are decent but average on the whole, the latter will work very well in concert.
The entire album is filled with nostalgia and is very similar to "Goodtimes Together" it is good but not a classic like C&K's first three albums. The sound is smooth and crisp, the harmonies are there, the songs are up lifting and inoffensive, and will probably please C&K's diehard fans (of which there are many). Time will probably do to this album what it did to "Goodtimes Together" with the lesser songs falling through the cracks and the best songs will become as enduring as C&K.
So if you are one of those fans that buys every C&K album and gets excited for every reunion concert this album is for you. If you like C&K but can take em or leave um this probably won't turn your decision either way. Overall this new album will give you a warm fuzzy feel and a memory of the good times and it is best in the car for the long hours stuck in H1 traffic.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stephen Stills Returns

Stephen Stills is one of my favorite musician and he was once poised to become one of the great voices in American song. He was getting there as well, if one looks at his work from the late 60s and early 70s, every song is nearly flawless. But somewhere towards the end of the 1970s Stills lost much of his creative power, particularly his song writing ability, turning out a number of uneven albums that had only a few good songs. This slew of sub par albums caused him to fall out of many music listeners earshot. Stills himself has stated that he has lost his creative gifts and over the past thirty years the majority of Stills' albums have gone largely unnoticed. Yet his guitar playing, which rivals that of Eric Clapton, has remained excellent and his concert tours over the years, both solo and with his buddies David Crosby, Graham Nash, and sometimes Neil Young, have drawn packed crowds.

I hope Stills' fall from grace will change with the release of a number of his albums from the 60s and 70s that have never been heard before. The first of these came out in 2007 the "Just Roll Tape" (see photo below) album was an impromptu recording from 1968 which Stills performed with just an acoustic guitar.
This album of early demos reminded listeners of the genius that Stills once possessed and apparently spurred him to open his audio archives and find more unreleased music. He released a similar album in early 2009 with the group Crosby, Stills and Nash called "Demos" which was a collection of early demo songs that later ended up on their albums.

Then on September 2, 2009 came the best "unreleased" album so far in "Manassas Pieces."
The original Manassas album is widely regarded as a masterpiece and the Manassas group that Stills formed is considered one of the high points in his career. So after the excellent first album and a terrible second album ("Down the Road") comes this album of great songs that should have been the group's second album. The songs on "Pieces" are of spectacular sound quality, all of these were intended for album so there are no demo sounds here. Some of the songs, particularly toward the end, are a little short (one or two minutes) which kind of shows they were not fully realized but none the less this is an excellent album and one of Stills' best in years.

This fine release is only the beginning, on Oct. 27, 2009 Stills will release his first full length live album in the double disc "Live at Shepherd's Bush" recorded during his 2008 concert tour. Also announced are a Manassas Live album (one can only dream of this greatness), a number of recordings between Stills and Jimi Hendrix (who appeared on Stills debut and was Stills' guitar teacher) and a solo box set. All these bring water to my mouth. One can only hope these other releases are as good as "Manassas Pieces." And maybe this journey into the past will spark Stills' creative energy again. Here's hoping and happy listening everyone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My First one

Ok so I have never done one of these before so I guess I will start with saying what this blog will hopefully be about. I am planning on focusing on music, possibly mainly the music of Hawaii, maybe if this goes well I could expand to include all kinds of entertainment (movies, music, books, comics, dance, etc.) but lets see what happens. Before I start I just wanted to say thanks to the lovely lady who writes the Hot Robot blog for all her help in getting me started with this blog stuff. Well here goes.

Beatles for Sale
So the big news in the music world over the last week was that The Beatles catalogue has been re-released in special edition remastered CDs. The process of remastering, according to reports, has taken nearly four years and done by George Martin (the man behind the scenes of all the original Beatles recordings including the recent "Love" CD).
What is the difference between these new Remastered CDs and the original CD releases from 1987 (which have been the only available Beatles music for quite some time)?
1. The sound of the new releases are louder than the 1987 releases
2. McCartney's bass guitar is much clearer on the new releases
3. On certain albums it is much easier to hear the different instruments being played
4. All the new releases come with new archival photos and brief liner notes, which were sorely lacking on the 1987 releases.
5. Each new release CD has a four minute "mini-documentary" about the making of the album which is playable on Quicktime in your computer.*
6. New cardboard digipack cases instead of the plastic jewel cases.

*one complaint I read about these "mini-documentarys" is that when the disc is put into the computer for instance to load the songs into iTunes the documentary pops up and makes it difficult to download the songs into iTunes.

So if you already have all the 1987 CDs, these New Releases may not be worth all the money. Except for the most diligent listeners most people will not be able to spot vast differences unless they play the 1987 and the New discs back to back. As the music has thankfully not been remixed so drastically that the songs no longer resemble the ones we know and love. If you don't own any of the Beatles albums (sad but it can happen) these will certainly please your ears. The Beatles catalogue contains some of the finest rock and pop music to ever be recorded and judging from the bestseller list on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble many people are snatching up these new releases. If you're a Beatles Fanatic (you know who you are) you probably already have bought these new releases weeks ago and if you are a fanatic and have not bought them the new liner notes and mini-documentarys are some prime incentives.
If you are a casual listener and already own the 1987 CDs you'll be fine, but if you are really curious to hear the difference borrow the new Remasters from a Beatles Fanatic near you, come on we all know at least one Beatles Fanatic.

take care and thanks for reading.