Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rodney Arias: Hawaiian lounge legend

Over the years, somehow, I've managed to find three different records by Hawaiian lounge singer Rodney Arias. One listen to "Live!" and you know that Rodney was no two-bit tourist hack - this man could put on a show. The intro alone to "After the Lovin'" makes me want to go back in time to the Outrigger East hotel, circa 1979, with an umbrella drink in one hand and a beautiful wahine in the other - truly paradise.

From the liner notes:
"'Rodney Arias has perhaps the finest voice in Waikiki at the moment. His notes are big, brassy, and bold; his repertoire is laced with oldies and current favorites. He can sing the bouncy pop stuff, right along with the hauntingly beautiful Hawaiiana; and when the Paradise Serenaders uncork their vibrant harmonies (with hints of falsetto), the result is chicken-skin music.' Thus wrote Wayne Harada, the Honolulu Advertiser's Entertainment Editor in his latest review of Rodney's Show. Rodney Arias deserves to be heard. A live recording is the quickest and most expedient method. It was impractical to bring all the necessary equipment to the Outrigger East Hotel, (a remote unit was not available), so the producers decided to reverse the procedure. They transported the club to the studio -- chairs, tables, ash-trays, a mini-bar, and pupus were laid out. The group set up on the opposite side and performed to a small but enthusiastic studio audiance (sic). The results are here on record. Unfortunately it is impossible to include all the numbers performed that evening. Some tough decisions had to be made. Most of the chatter was edited (awwwww! -- BR) to give you more of Rodney and the Paradise Serenaders."
"If My Friends Could See Me Now"
"Just The Way You Are"
"Last Dance"

"Love is The Way" is Rodney's second album. They were right - the "live" sound that works so well on the above record is missing here. This record is undated, but came after a 1973 record called "The Paradise Serenaders" and before "Live!" in 1979. In any case, here's his rendition of the ubiquitous "Quando Quando"

From the liner notes:
"After a very successful first album, Rodney Arias and the Paradise Seranaders have put together truly inspirational second album, featuring for the first time, Rodney Arias as a soloist. A strong baritone, Rodney sings in his own irresistible, distinctive and modern style that is pure enjoyment."

On a recent thrift trip, I was delighted to discover yet another Arias album. This eponymous effort is also undated, but as disco become tired, Rodney stayed fresh with country-tinged tunes. Blame Urban Cowboy. Check out, of all things, "Lukenbach, Texas".

"I'm an Entertainer" meanwhile shows that Rodney didn't lose his funky chops as he matured.

No liner notes on this record, but the back cover does have the wonderful full-body photo shown at the top of the page.

Rodney has appeared in an episode of Hawaii Five-0.
He has several other records, including at least one other with the Paradise Serenaders and another with a band called Sand.

Where Are They Now???
-- I think Rodney is still around. His son Rodney Jr. has a band, and I've had trouble figuring out if mentions are about Rodney Sr. or Jr.

Rodney Arias, Jr., has a cd available. His band features former members of the Paradise Serenaders. He's also a manager at the Honolulu Wal-Mart, after a stint as a butcher at the Waikele Sack N Save.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Strange children's songs from Thomas Moore

There's a thrift store I go to that always has tons of Children's records. Especially those newer 80s-90s ones with lots of dull songs about obeying your parents and respecting other cultures. I usually only buy them if there's something unusual there, like maybe a song about how to pee or perhaps a cover of "I Am the Walrus". Anyway There were several records (all signed on the back) by a guy named Thomas Moore... The others were slickly-made things with the usual themes about exercise and hygiene, but one stood out for its craptacular home-made cover consisting entirely of ball-point pen X's. A friend was over inspecting my day's finds, and she said "I wanna listen to this one." Puttin the German disco records aside, I put on "Thomas Moore sings The Family". Holy crap.

"Don't Feel Sad"

Basically, it's "Don't feel sad, if you're whole family is dead." I suppose its not the message that's bad (unlike the singing, songwriting, and piano)... But it is a bit shocking right off the bat. Other songs include "The New Baby At My House", "Look What I did This Morning", "I Get Mad", and "I'm a Special Kid". My favorite however has to be "The Family Jog"... Perhaps the greatest ode to jogging ever performed. Or the only one.

So I immediately went back today to get the other records. They don't seem to be quite as crazy as "The Family", but there are some good songs like "I Like Water" and "Bus Driver".

Mr. Moore, according to the liner notes, holds college degree in music, and a Ph.D. in child development. He has been an Education professor, and apparently now is an education columnist for the Charlotte Observer.

These recordings are available on CD (and cassette, wouldn't you know) from Dr. Moore's website.