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Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Vol. 1

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Album Review

One of the classic Hawaiian albums, and possibly the point where island consciousness and music first touched a wider audience, this was first released in 1975, and its return on CD is very welcome. It's not perfect — the heavy lacing of strings on "Pu'uanahulu" and on the sentimental "Moonlight Lady" are things of their period which really haven't stood the test of time — but it's about as close as the '70s produced, with some glorious singing from almost everyone concerned and some brilliant guitar work, especially from Gabby on "Moanl Ke'ala," where his Hawaiian steel rings above the song like bells. Recorded in 1974 in an isolated part of North Kona, this offers the real Hawaii, beyond the tourist areas, and the legacy of guitar music that was a century and a half old. Having Ry Cooder as a guest certainly helped it receive slightly wider notice at the time (and at almost every moment since its release, too), although he plays just a peripheral role. The emphasis is on Gabby Pahinui and his band and on the interplay of voices and guitars — in addition to his sons, Pahinui's band included two world-class slack key players, Sonny Chillingworth and Leland Isaacs. The music is best when they steer away from the overly sentimental material, which can sometimes confuse — "Hawaiian Love" sounds as if it's going to be maudlin, but resolves as a glorious instrumental, while on the other hand the upbeat "Wahini U'l" gets bogged down with unnecessary strings that detract from its innate loveliness. The wonderful "Oli Komo" chant, with its log drums, returns everything to basics before the album closes with "Ipo Lei Manu," as laid-back and restful as a Hawaiian sunset. Even though not everything is perfect, it's a wonderful document of its time, and shows a great talent like Pahinui at the top of his form.

Customer Reviews

The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Vol. 1

For Hawaiian slack key guitar, it just doesn't get much better than this. A superb recording.

Gabby is the standard

This is as genuine as modern Hawaiian music can get, Gabby was one if a kind and influenced so many of today's Hawaiian musicians. These songs are timeless works of art.


Gem of an album. Uncle Gabby was one of the greats, a must have!


Born: April 22, 1921 in Honolulu, HI

Genre: World

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Gabby Pahinui helped to lay the foundation for Hawaiian slack key guitar playing. Although he recorded only one internationally released album, Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Vol. 1, his influence continues to be reflected in the playing of Hawaiian slack key players and American guitarists including John Fahey, Leo Kottke, and Ry Cooder. During an early-'90s interview, Pahinui's son, James "Bla" Pahinui, also a skilled slack key guitarist, recalled, "My dad got away with a lot of stuff because it...
Full Bio
Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Vol. 1, Gabby Pahinui
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  • $7.99
  • Genres: World, Music, Hawaii
  • Released: Jun 21, 1975

Customer Ratings

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