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Stylo Magic (SM2002)

Steppin’ Along, Across The Sea, Clowin’ The Frets, Coquette, Indian Cradle Song, Love Me Or Leave Me, If I Can’t Have You, May Day Is Lei Day In Hawaii, Song Of The Islands, Talkin’ To Myself, Old Plantation, Hard To Get Gertie, The Object Of My Affection, With A Song In My Heart, Rainbows Over Paradise, Maori Brown Eyes, and more...

Released on their Stylo Magic imprint, this is another fabulous release from the good folks at Grass Skirt Records, enthusiasts for Hawaiian guitar music from another time and another place. They don’t issue new CDs very often but when they do they are always worthy of our attention –and this is no different.

Eddie Bush was born in Milwaukee in 1911 to Hawaiian parents who were, by nature and vocation, entertainers.  As soon as he could he joined their troupe but was soon heading off with a couple of pals, Bill ‘Curly’ Seckler and Paul Gibbons, to join the Earl Burnett band at his regular gig at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles. With Eddie to the fore on Hawaiian steel guitar and falsetto guitar, supported by Seckler’s ukulele and vocals and Gibbon’s on vocals and guitar, they quickly became established in their own right and by 1928 were fast-tracked into the recording studios.

In spite of the fact that Eddie and a changing line-up of supporting musicians continued to record until 1939, only a couple of sides from these initial 1928 sessions ever seem to feature on re-issues and compilations of historic Hawaiian-themed music. These are the delicious and rather lovely instrumentals Clowin’ The Frets and Hard To Get Gertie, both included here.

Thankfully, this 20 track CD corrects this, re-presenting various recordings that Eddie Bush was involved in, and allowing us to develop a more rounded picture of his music. His majestic Hawaiian steel guitar playing shines and shimmers throughout but the singing and vocal harmonies are equally spectacular. As indeed are the songs, being a mix of traditional-themed Hawaiian music (such as the charming My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua, Hawaii and haunting Makalapua O Kamakaeha) and popular love songs of the day (including the beautifully-paced The Object Of My Affection, the sheer beauty of Love Me Or Leave Me and the truly scrumptious If I Can’t Have You ).

For such a small label without access to expensive sound restoration facilities, Grass Skirt has done a tremendous job presenting this music for the first time. However, the news here is not uniformly good as this CD is a strictly limited edition release. So, if you have any interest in acquiring a copy of this excellent music, don’t hang about, it may not be available for very long! 



Review Date: June 2014

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