Monday, March 26, 2007

JohnsCDs 2005-0152-027 - No Rain, No Rainbow: A Contemporary Hawaiian Christmas

This is our final week looking at Christmas comps and the second week of exploring through the 20 comps that Martin Johns of Greenville, South Carolina sent us via the P.O. Box.

When this comp you're looking at fell out onto my passenger seat in my car, I thought at first it was a reggae flavored comp (that comes later on this week though). Then I read the title and let out a giddy squeal of delight.

There is something about Hawaii and Christmas that has always clicked within me. At one time, Hawaiian Christmas music was the largest subgenre in my personal collection with 13 CDs so flavored.

It is something I have never understood or tried to understand. However, when I hear "Deck The Halls" sung in Hawaiian or that luscious slide guitar playing "Jingle Bells", I simply relax and float downstream with the music.

In any case, I was thrilled to add number 14 to the collection. Of all the comps Martin had sent me, this was the very first to hit the boombox last December. It also gave me a checklist of artists whom I've never heard of - meaning there are OTHER Hawaiian Christmas CDs to pick up!

For some additional insight on this comp, I've asked Martin to fill in the blanks in a segment we've set aside called...


I visited Maui in 2000 and had the best time of my life. Hawaii is so amazing as to defy description. The culture, the people, the food, the music - it's all so connected and so unique. In particular, I fell in love with some of the contemporary Island artists - Na Leo, Willie K, and Sean Na'Auao.

Big Iz never made a Christmas record, but I had to include him. At the time, his version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" hadn't been used in all the movies, TV shows, and commercials it is in now, so it was a lot fresher. It's still one of the most beautiful performances I've ever heard.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say... In 1999, Willie K released his Christmas album that featured his astounding version of "O Holy Night" and a duet with Willie Nelson on "Away In A Manger". It's no wonder why his album was the top selling Christmas CD that year!
2.) WOW! "Jingle Bells" in Hawaiian! Featured on the 2001 comp "Old Hawaiian Christmas" which is OOP? I'm about to cry here...
3.) Not your traditional Hawaiian... but the Local Divas did such a great job grouping two totally different Christmas songs that you don't mind too much. This track was on their 1999 Christmas album.
4.) Lovely song that conjures the sounds of Hawaii and places you there at Christmas. Acoustic Soul's title track from a 2000 Christmas comp.
5.) Won this Christmas CD on eBay several years ago and was disappointed in its non-traditional Hawaiian sound. But I've warmed up to it considerably since. This is one of the better tunes by Rasmussen & Makuakane.
6.) This wonderful cover by Keahiwai was first issued as a single (scroll down to the very bottom) in 2001. Late last year, the group released their first full Christmas CD that includes a semi-acoustic reworking of the same song!
7.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! A reggae flavored Hawaiian Christmas song? Sean Na'auao has a very different Hawaiian sound which is a great change of pace! From his 2001 "Kanaka Christmas" CD.
8.) Of all the songs on Willie K's album (see #1 above), this was the most overblown non-Hawaiian song of the lot. More hard rock than anything else, it fuses "The Little Drummer Boy" and a bad original song with the word Christmas in the title.
9.) Ahhh... traditional Hawaiian... beautiful song by Na Leo Pilimehana. From their second Christmas album.
10.) Henry Kapono's title track from his 1989 Christmas album - very sedate song!
11.) This might be my favorite Hawaiian version of "We Three Kings". The Brothers Cazimero recorded this in 1999 for their brilliant "Cazimero Christmas Favorites". And they have a NEW Christmas album? Ooooooo!
12.) Excellent slack-key Christmas song by Keola Beamer! Taken appropriately from "Ki Ho'alu Christmas"
13.) Along with "Rockin' Around" (see #6 above), this was on the same single and also appears on their Christmas album as well. Very good!
14.) The title track (see #7 above) is more traditional and quite catchy! Adding this one to my wish list!
15.) Karen Kaleolani Keawehawai'i has been called "The First Lady of Hawaiian Music" and this proves it - an amazing song entirely in Hawaiian and totally fascinating! From her "Have A Merry Karen Christmas" album.
16.) Not a big medley... but when you splice "Christmas Island" and "Hawaiian Santa" together, it's a FUN medley for sure! Aloha Delire recorded this for the 2000 comp "Vol. 2 - Island Style Christmas".
17.) "O Holy Night" in Hawaiian and ukulele accompaniment... about as pure and simple and haunting as one can get. From the "Old Hawaiian Christmas" CD (see #2 above).
18.) Beautiful bi-lingual Christmas spiritual by Pastor Wayne Cordero. Find this one on 2002's "Tiny CD 3 Xtreme Xmas".
19.) Na Leo's back... this one comes from their extremely popular first Christmas album and it's a wonderful acoustic Christmas song. Not too Hawaiian but the voices of Na Leo make up for it.
20.) Guessing there's a lot of rainbows in Hawaii... and John Keane has masterfully crafted a Hawaiian Christmas song about this for his 1996 "Christmas Is" album.
21.) Nice follow-up to the last song. You've probably heard this amazing song in movies, television shows, commercials, etc., etc. It still hasn't lost its impact - a testament to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole who had quite the career before he left us in 1997.
22.) The last track on "Old Hawaiian Christmas" (see #2 above) that features SeaWest musicians trying to master "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" on the ukulele - hilarious!

You know I loved this comp. I know I loved this comp.

Let's leave it at that before I start gushing like a geyser.

One last item - this review has made me find several Hawaiian music sites that I never knew existed.'s selection of Christmas is astonishing, and Myriah's Polynesian Bazaar has not one but TWO Christmas pages. You can bet your last kala that I'll be ku'aiing a 'ahui of Kalikimaka CDs!

UP NEXT: JohnsCDs 2005-0556-032 - Progressive Christmas V4



Ernie said...

How do I get on Martin's Christmas CD list? I promise to be good all year! :)

Erick Monsterama2000 said...

I also visited Maui in 2000 and fell in love with the music and culture. I don't remember seeing you there Stubby :) I bought a couple of Hawaiian music CD's while I was there, that's when I first discovered "IZ". Great stuff. Mahalo.