Friday, July 20, 2012

Kalapana - "Back In Your Heart Again"

So after 1978 Kalapana disbanded with each member going on to do a solo project. Mackey Feary had been moderately successful with The Mackey Feary Band. DJ Pratt and Alvin Fejerang stayed in Japan and formed a new group that they misleadingly called Kalapana and released a couple of Japan only albums ("Hold On" and "Live"). Kirk Thompson formed the Jazz Rock band Lemuria and had a hit with their self titled debut. Michael Paulo continued his Saxophone excellence working on a number of jazz and Hawaiian projects. Malani Bilyeu really hit is big with his 1980 solo debut "Islands" which featured the huge hit "Moloka'i Sweet Home."

In 1982 Hawaii concert promoter Tom Moffatt convinced Feary, Bilyeu, Thompson, Fejerang and Paulo to reunite for a sold out concert that was released as the album "Reunion." They then went on a tour in 1983.

In 1986 and 1987: Feary, Bilyeu, Pratt, Paulo with new members Kenji Sano (bass) and Gaylord Holomalia (Keyboards/production) recorded "Hurricane" and "Lava Rock" which were fairly successful, especially in Asia. Their tours of Asia, Hawaii and the Pacific were big successes.

So in 1990 came this album with the same line up as those 1980s albums. The music here is geared more toward a Japanese audience with breezy tropical pop that sounds really good while it is playing but is largely forgettable once the album is finished. The best song is "Fireside Blues" a solo acoustic tune by Bilyeu. The album also features some old songs "Blacksand" and "Julliet" and a new recording of "Many Classic Moments." A fine cover of "Here, There, and Everywhere" is also included.

The sound is closer to smooth jazz than the groups Rock/Pop/Fusion sound. Not a bad release but certainly not essential except for the above mentioned songs. This album is completely omitted from any hits compilations though so this is the only place to hear these songs. It is also something of a rare recording because it is no longer in mass production.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kalapana - "In Concert"

A live double album recorded during four sold out shows, two in Japan and two in Guam.

The band is in good form.  It is the same line up from their two previous albums Malani Bilyeu, DJ Pratt, Kirk Thompson, Randy Aloya, Alvin Fejerang, and Michael Paulo. For these concerts Hiroshima keyboardist Kimo Cornwell joined the group.

Most of the tracks come from the albums "Kalapana II," "Kalapana III" and "Many Classic Moments." Most of the performances do not differ greatly from the studio versions aside from more energy, or changes in instrumentation.

Some of these performances, however, are pretty killer including the opening medley of "Jamaica Farewell/Banana Boat Song/When the Morning Comes," the jamming on "Nathen's Lament" and the jaw dropping guitar work by Pratt on "Can you See Him." This is a great time capsule as Kalapana disbanded shortly after these concerts. This is also the only live recording from their heyday, the other two records/videos are from later in their career. This shows how popular they were because very few Hawaii artists have the popularity to release double albums without losing money. Kalapana could do it. Finally many of these songs are no longer in Kalapana's live repertoire so it is neat to hear them in a concert setting.

Like their two previous studio albums this one is only available as a Japanese import CD. I got it as a Christmas gift one year. It is not entirely essential especially considering the import price but it is nice to have for the die hard Kalapana fan. Long live Kalapana.