Those of you who associate Hawaiian music only with lazy steel pedal guitar riffs, or with ukulele maestro Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (made famous for his rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) are missing out. Prior to Hawaii’s annexation in 1959, the archipelago’s isolated Pacific location facilitated largely one-way tourism from the U.S. This constant, cross-cultural migration, along with Hawaii’s indigenous history and later annexation, gave rise to a unique brand of hybrid Honolulu soul, which evolved alongside its homeland’s changing identity.
Because of the island’s unidirectional traffic, however, much of this music never made it to the mainland— until now. On March 18, Strut Records is releasing a compilation, Aloha Got Soul, of rare Hawaiian funk, disco, and soul from 1979-85. Album cut “Kona Winds,” by Marvin Franklin with Kimo and the Guys, opens with a plainspoken intro (“Hi, I’m Marvin, the lifeguard over at North Beach”), a tropical drum pattern, and good ol’ American soul intonation, the song is a love letter to those perfect waves. Listen below, and pre-order Aloha Got Soul here.