Israel, or “Iz,” as he is known to his fans, was Hawaii’s
most popular singer until his death in 1997. His version of “Somewhere Over
The Rainbow” is still in demand. This album features his intimate vocals with
a full orchestra. Even a decade after his death at age 38 in 1997,
Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole remains Hawaii’s best-known and most beloved
singer. His career began when he and his older brother, Skippy, formed a group
in their hometown near Honolulu. The two performed together until the latter
died in 1982. The band continued on for some years but it was Iz’s haunting
voice, with its searing yet limpid falsetto, that captured the popular
imagination. Indeed, his ‘ukulele-laced version of “Over the Rainbow” is
widely thought to be the only interpretation that could possibly stand up to
Judy Garland’s original. Now that the definitive retrospective, Alone in IZ
World (2001), has been released, it is perhaps inevitable that new
arrangements should be slipped in under Iz’s inimitable, indelible vocal
tracks. The good news is, however, that these particular lush orchestrations,
while totally superfluous, are nonetheless respectful and in good taste, never
overwhelming the singing (as if anything could!). There are no revelations,
but, fortunately, no unpleasant shocks, either. Perhaps, had he lived, Iz
might have decided to go this route anyway. As with Louis Armstrong’s (the
title of this album refers to Iz’s own cover of “What A Wonderful World”) and
Buddy Holly’s string-backed experiments, it’s simply yet another way to
celebrate the legacy of a departed genius. –Christina Roden
- Audio CD (June 26, 2007)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Mountain Apple Company HAWAII & Big Boy Record Company
- #51 in Hawaiian Music
- #31276 in Pop (CDs & Vinyl)
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