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Surf Madness

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Album Review

An album of surf rock from the Hawaiian fusion duo Hapa. The album is largely new material done in the surf style, but there are covers here, too, on which Hapa always excels. The album opens with a short bit of theme music for the Axel and Barneldo characters taken on by Flanagan and Kaneali'i to set the mood, and moves into the classic "Walk Don't Run." A few new compositions by Flanagan in the surf rock genre follow, referencing every major act of the era along the way, even enlisting the help of Don Ho for a single line of lyrics. The guitars are always slightly fuzzed and always bright sounding, following the contour runs favored in the style. An odd piece in dedication to Flanagan's surf teacher comes along in the form of "Gregory Anthony's Tubular Symphony," making use of sitars and Brazilian friction drums in its course, but somehow bending it back into the surf aesthetic before the song is over. "Wipe Out" couldn't very well be missed among the covers, and another Flanagan piece returns to the retro stylings of the later '60s, primarily, but tosses in a bit of spaghetti western ambience with some whistles and percussion direct from a Clint Eastwood film. A Joe Satriani song makes an appearance, tied into the surf theme only loosely, from his Surfing With the Alien album, and the traditional "He'eia" gives the duo some room to stretch out in their best element. The album finishes on the second piece that couldn't be missed in an album of surf rock: the theme to "Hawaii Five-O." Here, though, it's stretched out and thoroughly laid-back, using brushes for the drums and a quiet lounge beat. While the Axel and Barneldo personas might be a bit over the top, the link between surf rock and Hawaiian music is strong enough to give Hapa a firm foundation for their abilities to shine through. Other Hapa albums are probably far more noteworthy than this one (particularly In the Name of Love), but it's still a fun listen. All it needs is a cover of "Miserlou," and it's a perfect bit of nostalgia.


Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The Hawaiian duo Hapa teamed singers/guitarists Barry Flanagan and Keli‘i Kaneali‘i, who first met in 1983; deriving their name from a pidgin slang expression for "ethnically mixed, " Kaneali‘i (a Honolulu native) and Flnagan (a product of New Jersey who relocated to Maui in 1979) then spent the next decade honing their distinctive sound, an update of traditional Polynesian textures and rhythms incorporating elements of pop and worldbeat. Building a devoted following throughout the islands, in 1993...
Full Bio
Surf Madness, Hapa
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: World, Music
  • Released: Nov 04, 1997

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