Initially launched by now-Chief Curator Roger Bong as a blog under the same name in August 2010, Aloha Got Soul got their start championing and sharing ’70s and ’80s jazz, soul, funk and R&B from Hawaii. Now, they’re a Honolulu-based record label with a complete roster of Hawaiian artists, and their focus is new releases and rare reissues of Hawaiian music across all genres, generations and corners of Hawaii.
As their site’s mission statement details, they “believe that Hawaii’s artists should freely explore and define their musical identities,” and “hope to connect with the past and build toward the future.”
Just in time for the dawning of summer — and after the popularity among VMP customers of our past Aloha Got Soul releases, Phase 7’s Playtime and Steve & Teresa’s Catching A Wave — we’ve worked closely with Aloha Got Soul to bring you exclusive reissues of these three very special pockets of Hawaiian music, which you can learn more about below.
Island Vibes is a highly rare release from the American jazz vibraphone and marimba player whose ensemble is most notable for pioneering a unique style of faux-Polynesian music in the ’50s and ’60s that later became known by the term “exotica.” Our pressing comes on Translucent Purple with Pink vinyl.
“The rarest of all Arthur Lyman releases (are any of his other records really rare? Probably not. This one is.) We had to reference three different sources to get the best sound: reels, vinyl and cassette. Luckily we had one of the industry’s best engineers, Jessica Thompson, to guide us through the process,” Bong commented.
The Mackey Feary Band boasted many of the most key players of the local music scene in Honolulu in the ’70s. Members include Nohelani Cypriano (of “Lihue” cult fame), Azure McCall of Lemuria, Jimmy Funai, who produced Hal Bradburyʼs debut, and Gaylord Holomalia, who now runs the island studio where stars such as Kanye West, Jay-Z and Mariah Carey have recorded.
A highly sought-after, must-have jazz/soul release, this album is their self-titled debut, released following Mackey Feary’s departure from the popular band Kalapana. The VMP exclusive version comes on Opaque Red with Black Swirl vinyl.
“This is the record that started AGS. I heard ‘A Million Stars’ in high school, fell in love with the song, but that was that. Four years later, I heard it again. This time in a DJ Muro ‘Hawaiian Breaks’ mixtape. All these memories came pouring back. But Muro didn’t provide a tracklist,” Bong recounted. “I made it my mission to unearth the remaining tracks on Muro’s mix, which is how AGS started. Now, 11 years later, I’m officially reissuing the album that changed my life.”
Composer, performer and musician Eddie Suzuki’s world revolved around music his entire life. In his early teen years, he worked as a shoe shiner, eventually saving up enough money to pay for piano lessons. And by the time he hit high school, he was leading up a big band orchestra of 16 (and up to 40) members. At 18, he opened up a piano shop that eventually became Honolulu’s most popular guitar store.
High Tide, the now-rare 1973 record that Suzuki made with his group New Hawaii, is an arresting and unique blend of psych, Hawaiian music and pop. Our exclusive edition comes on Opaque Red & Yellow Swirl vinyl.
“A beautiful album celebrating Hawaiiʼs warmth and spirit. The personal story here is that I reached out for a license just 1 week too late — Eddie Suzuki had died the week prior to my initial phone call. It took a couple years until I was able to connect with his son and get his permission to reissue Eddie’s music,” Bong explained.