AlohaGS-iconOne of Schlockmania’s favorite com­pi­la­tions of recent vin­tage was Americana: Rock Your Soul, a delight­ful dig through the crates of lesser known soft-rock and smooth soul record­ings. One of the neat­est dis­cov­er­ies to emerge on this set was the exis­tence of some high qual­i­ty yacht rock cre­at­ed in the most fit­ting des­ti­na­tion of all for this sound, Hawaii. Yacht rock­ers were left to won­der if the Hawaiian soft rock excur­sions on Americana were just fluke occur­rences or if there was a strain of untapped smooth-FM gold wait­ing to be uncov­ered on Pacific shores.

Aloha Got Soul, a new com­pi­la­tion from Strut Records, pro­vides an answer to this ques­tion by serv­ing up just over an hour’s worth of high-cal­iber soul, dis­co and AOR cuts record­ed by Hawaiian acts between 1979 and 1985. These selec­tions were cho­sen by DJ Roger Bong, a col­lec­tor of this mate­ri­al who also runs a blog and record label under the same name. The results mAlohaGS-covake a great case for Hawaii as an over­looked hotbed of soul­ful mood music.

Aloha Got Soul often feels like you’re lis­ten­ing to a ‘70s/80’s oldies sta­tion from an alter­nate real­i­ty, where a vari­ety of pop music sub­gen­res are shot through with a dis­tinc­tive sense of Pacific cool. On the soft rock tip, Tender Leaf’s “Countryside Beauty” is a trib­ute to the great out­doors built on a taut acoustic-dri­ven arrange­ment rem­i­nis­cent of Loggins & Messina while Brother Noland’s “Kawaihae” is an adven­tur­ous­ly arranged soft rock­er that shifts time sig­na­tures in a lite-prog way and throws in a fun analog syn­th solo.

There are also plen­ty of num­bers that offer a con­vinc­ing pop-soul groove: “I Feel Like Getting Down” by Nova is a low-slunk funk groover perked up with par­ty chat­ter and Aura’s “Yesterday Love” sounds like a Hawaiian vari­a­tion on girl group soul, pumped by Earth Wind & Fire-style horns and nifty instru­men­tal fade that goes in an unex­pect­ed jazz direc­tion. On the blue-eyed soul tip, Roy & Roe’s “Just Don’t Come Back” is the kind of smol­der­ing lost-love num­ber you would expect to hear on a late ‘70s Boz Scaggs album.

AlohaGS-01There are also some num­bers clus­tered in the sec­ond half of the album that offer more upfront ele­ments of tra­di­tion­al Hawaiian sounds. For exam­ple, Nohelani Cypriano’s “O’Kailua” is a delight­ful syn­th-lay­ered num­ber that has a Pacific folk refrain and a sur­prise burst of steel gui­tar. However, the key exam­ple of this musi­cal strand on Aloha Got Soul is “Papa’a Tita” by Chucky Boy Chock and Mike Kaawa with Brown Co. It’s essen­tial­ly a tra­di­tion­al Hawaiian folk song given a slick late ‘70s pro­duc­tion. The hybrid of styles pro­duces a killer where smooth har­monies glide over a tight­ly-arranged back­ing of con­gas, terse­ly-strummed acoustics and even a bit of steel drum.

Simply put, Aloha Got Soul is a killer set of smooth sounds that offers a nice alter­na­tive to the usu­al yacht rock playlist. Everything is slick­ly pro­duced, beau­ti­ful­ly per­formed and rich with the late ‘70s/early ‘80s pro­duc­tion val­ues that play a big role in yacht rock’s charm. If you like comps like Americana, this is a must-buy for your next lite-FM lis­ten­ing ses­sion.