Various Artists - ALOHA GOT SOUL

by Miz DeShannon Rating:9 Release Date:2016-02-18

Aloha Got Soul is as super-cool as they come, really. Based in Hawaii – home of sun, surf, and soul too it'd seem – it's another label to have brought rare and sought-after vinyl back to life, with the likes of Mike Lundy, Greenwood and some exciting compilation releases in recent times.

Founded by Roger Bong (what a superb name) in 2010, Aloha Got Soul is just about the most laid-back, chilled-out, musical adventure you could hope for. I found them in 2012, the Pupu Mix being the first thing I laid my hands on, closely followed by the No Place Like Home mixtape filled with local musicians and thus Hawaiian track titles, then 1x10x100. Roger isn't shy of making sure Hawaiian funk gets out there – No Place Like Home was made exclusively for iCrates, his SoundCloud is regularly filled with mixes from his Soul Time vinyl parties, and he's given London and Chicago the go-ahead to run Soul Time parties too.

Having worked with London's Strut Records for the last year – who also somehow dig up entire scenes you never knew existed – Roger has pulled together this collection of funk, disco and jazz tracks which were all recorded in Hawaii during the '70s and early '80s. A touch later than the UK had got into Earth, Wind & Fire maybe, but soul sounds never tire.

Opening with Tender Leaf's 'Countryside Beauty' with it's twangy guitar riffs and superbly cliched summertime 'do-doo-de-do-doo' chorus, the 16-track complication is jammed with fantastic funk disco songs and instrumentals. Aura's 'Yesterday's Love' with “Pap! Pap!' soul brass and soaring Jackson-like vocals, includes a pretty immense flute break-down. Never thought I'd hear myself say that.

It goes on and on – familiar funky sounds, from artists you will never have heard of, unless you're one of those niche vinyl collectors, trawling the racks at every fair on every corner of the earth. But every single track has the typical beauty and skill of chart-topping and club-classic northern soul and AOR we know and love – Roy & Roe's 'Just Don't Come Back' with a solid funk bassline, Hawaii's 'Lady Of My Heart' full of soaring strings, Hal Bradbury bringing the pace down for a smooth and sexy 'Call Me'. The compilation includes a track from Aloha favourite Mike Lundy, Nova's head-nodding 'I Feel Like Getting Down' practically forcing you to grind your hips (mainly because of the party going on in the background), crazy high-hat action on Brother Noland's 'Kawaihae', and some smooth jazz sax on Greenwood's 'Sparkle'.

For the perfect Hawaiian funk-soul track though, wait to Chucky Boy Chock & Mike Kaawa with Brown Co's 'Papa'a Tita' – similar vocal sounds you'd expect from Desmond Dekker and some nice glokenspiel sounds.

Closing with the predominantly instrumental from Rockwell Fukino, 'Coast To Coast' has beautiful bossa nova vibes, soul strings and steel drums with a couple of inserts of jazz piano and guitar riffs – fade out on beautiful harmonies... Spot on. Shimmy shimmy – it's just impossible not to dance to Aloha Got Soul's offerings. If anyone can put sunshine and happy vibes into a mix Roger Bong can.

Aloha Got Soul most definitely gives a unique dialogue to the history of Hawaii’s music – have a good read of their (really interesting and well navigatable) website for more fine details on the artists, hapa haole music, and some absorbing musical journeys reflective of Gilles Peterson's 'Brasil Bam Bam Bam' adventure.

I can't wait to have this vinyl in my hands; summertime sounds, notes from Roger himself, rare photos of the artists and some great artwork.

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