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4 March 2012

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Facing Future (1993)

This week I've mostly been listening to...

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

I picked up the CD of 'Facing Future' last week and have been playing it constantly ever since. It's a gem!

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

I first became aware of 'Bruddah Iz' when I lived in New Zealand.

Have I ever told you how much I love New Zealand?

There was this TV programme hosted by Vela Manusaute and Canada Alofa (at the time they went by the name of 'The Brownies') which amongst other things showcased Pacific Island music. These guys were real characters and had a great rapport. They would poke fun at each other and wrestle... all the sorts of things that you know I like! And of course there was lots of Island music too! Beautiful! I don't know why I'm telling you all this, but yeah, I seem to remember them plugging 'Facing Future' on one of their shows.

The Brownies
http://www.eventpolynesia.com

So Iz wasn't from New Zealand; He was from one of the smaller Pacific Islands called Hawaii. :-) Ha ha... don't beat me up my Hawaiian brothers!

Iz was a big man both in stature and Mana who sadly died in his late 30s.  The more I learn about him, the more I like him, and I'm guessing that I'm not the only one. His legacy endures to this day and Facing Future is as good a place as any to start if you want to get to know him.

If I had to pick one song it would be...

Hawaii 78

Okay, this is the obvious choice, but I'm going to pick it anyway. It gets me every time!

The song opens with some beautiful ukulele overlayed with distant wailing... and before you know it, Iz's haunting vocals arrive to transport you to another place and time. It's an absolute classic! I'm filling up listening to it! I can't explain... just buy this bloody CD and you will understand!

The original: Hawaii 77 by The Ioane Brothers
http://www.hawaiiseventyeight.com

I've seen Hawaii 78 credited to Iz, but this isn't his song. Check out Kawika Crowley's site for the history of how it all came about. It's an interesting read. I especially like the idea that the song evolved over time with different people adding to it. It's a song for the People. And even if Iz didn't write it, he certainly placed his stamp on it. A song for the People by a man of the People! Fantastic!

The CD also contains probably Iz's most famous recording 'Somewhere over the rainbow/Wonderful world' which I like too, but not as much as the other songs. The melodies are fantastic. The ukulele is phenomenal. And Iz's voice mixes it all together perfectly. The only thing I'm going to overlook are the Island-reggae numbers. ;-)

So... what's my recommendation?

On the Triple-B I'm going to listen 9 times to Hawaii 78 and then maybes once more for luck! Buy it!


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