On August 21st of 1959 the island chain known as Hawaii became the 50th State of America. And then began the other 49 State’s love affair with all things Polynesian!
Americans flocked to Hawaii in droves to soak up the local flavors and to experience the music and culture. And then they went overboard in exploiting that very culture for fun and profit! With that said, I bring you not one, but two, Hawaiian-themed long-play records.
First we have Hawaiian Holiday by Leni Okehu and His Surfboarders:
And this party took place all the way back in 1959 no less! I knew this was an older record by the sticker on the front cover. Older LP jackets had the image glued on instead of printed directed on the jacket itself. The picture of the Luau was also a dead giveaway!
One of the most festive experiences to be had on a visit to the Hawaiian Islands was the luau – a Hawaiian feast featuring lively music and vibrant cultural performances from Hawaii and greater Polynesia. With pretty girls. Luau’s were popular. Duh.
Who were Leni Okehu and His Surfboarders? After a bit of research where I turned up absolutely nothing of interest about them, one Internet source mentioned that they were likely just a studio band employed by Pickwick International.
But did ‘they’ sound good? You be the judge:
The 101 Strings group got into the action not much later with this 1961 offering entitled Hawaiian Paradise:
This time we have an actual orchestra playing the music. The 101 Strings Orchestra was a brand for a highly successful easy listening symphonic music organization, with a discography exceeding 150 albums and a creative lifetime of around 30 years beginning in 1957. 101 Strings had a trademark sound, focusing on melody with a laid-back ambiance most often featuring 124 stringed instruments, which were conducted by Wilhelm Stephan.
Somerset Records was a German-based label which was bought out and subsequently has its name changed. You won’t find the label around today.
The music on this LP is more Americanized and thus less traditional in sound than the Hawaiian Holiday LP. It feels like a group of musicians trying to sound authentic but basically just sounding like a typical Big Band doing Polynesian.
I bought these at a local charity shop for just $2.99 CAN each. I do like traditional Hawaiian music but picked these up primarily for the artwork on the covers.
For more fun in the sun, check out my ‘Aloha from Hawaii’ promotional booklet.