As the temperature starts to dip with the winter months rapidly approaching, it’s only natural for thoughts to turn toward the tropical islands. And what better way to immerse yourself in the warmth of our nation’s 50th state than exploring “Hulaland: The Golden Age of Hawaiian Music”? This four-disc set from Rockbeat shines a sunny light on some of the best Hawaiian music from the 1920s to the 1970s.
It’s a mammoth undertaking — with 105 tracks clocking in at almost five hours — and includes some of the most elaborate cover art your likely to find anywhere. “Hulaland” takes the form of a 100-page, hardbound book filled with color photos, classic advertisements, and pages upon pages historical and biographical information about the origins of the music and the artists performing the songs.
Disc 1, “From Hollywood to Honolulu 1931-1957,” focuses on the early popularization of the island music my native Hawaiians and other A-list talents like Louis Armstrong, Ethel Merman, Jo Stafford, Burns & Allen and Slim Whitman.
Disc 2, “Splendor in the Grass Shack 1958-1974,” capitalizes on the Tiki craze and includes entries from, among others, The Ventures, The Waikiki’s and the instantly recognizable themes to “Hawaii Five-O” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
Disc 3, “Hawaiian Classics,” is the real find here. The 26-track set puts the spotlight on native Hawaiian musicians from the 1920s and ‘30s, including Kalama’s Quartet, King Nawahi and Hilo Hattie.
The collection concludes with Disc 4, “Contemporary Hawaiian Music.” It features a contemporary spin on the classicisland sound courtesy of The Coconut Trio, Ken & Bob, The Joy Buzzards and The Sweet Hollywaiians. Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)