Vintage Reissues 2: Harlequin Records

To date U.K.-based Harlequin Records has released ten CDs of Hawaiian music recordings released between the 1910s and the early 1950s. John Marsdenʻs extensive collection and encyclopedic knowledge are the foundation for the excellent liner notes that accompany the restored tracks.


Tickling the Strings, 1929-1952 (Harlequin HQ CD 28, p1993)
The start date marks the invention of guitar amplification, which transforms the sound of Hawaiian guitar from its acoustic plucking to its now ubiquitous sustained sliding. Artists: Tau Moe, King Bennie Nawahi, Kanui & Lula, Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Sol K. Bright, Hawaiian Islanders, Dick McIntire, Lena Machado, Lani McIntire, and Andy Iona. Record labels include Brunswick, Columbia, Decca, Parlophone, Polyphone, Regal Zonophone, and Victor.

On a Coconut Island (Harlequin HQ CD 46, p1994)
The discography shows the date range here to range from the late 1920s into the 1950s. The selections represent a sequel to the first CD, with issues drawn from more European labels. Some of the artists who make their first appearance in this series include guitarists Palakiko & Paaluhi, Europeans Segis Luvaun and Felix Mendelssohn, and Tahitian sides by Les Tamarii Tahiti, George “Tautu” Archer and the Pagans, and Augie Goupilʻs Royal Tahitian.

On the Beach at Waikiki, 1914-1952 (Harlequin HQ CD 57, p1995)
“. . . the third in a series of re-issues of classic Hawaiian recordings . . .” Tracks by leading artists of acoustic Hawaiian guitar playing–Pale K. Lua & David Kaili, Waikiki Stone-WallBoys, Irene West Royal Hawaiians, Helen Louise & Frank Ferera, Ferera & Franchini, Ferera & Paaluhi, Kane’s Hawaiians. Europeans Mike Danzi and Felix Mendelssohn make their first appearance in this series.

Rhythm of the Islands–Music of Hawaii 1913-1952 (Harlequin HQ CD 92, p1996)
“Volume 4 in Harlequin’s series of classic and rare Hawaiian music.” This volume continues the selections in the first three CDs. Liner notes identify groups, personnel, recording sessions, and provide brief notes on song contents.


Isle of Golden Dreams (Harlequin HQ CD 112, p1998)
Fifth in this series, the liner notes expand considerably on artists and song contents. Artists introduced for the first time include David Kaonohi who recorded prolifically as Johnny Pineapple, guitarist Sam K. West, Roy Smeck, the popular Dutch band Kilima Hawaiians, Western Swing bandleader Bob Wills, and songwriter/arranger Bernie Kaai.

Hawaiian Memories: Rare transcription discs 1936-1947 (Harlequin HQ CD 130, p1999)
Sixth in Harlequin’s series of Hawaiian music. “The present volume is unique in that it consists entirely of material recorded solely for the use of American radio stations, never before available for public purchase.” All recordings are attributed to sessions in Hollywood of New York. The liner notes trace prominent musicians such as Eddie Bush, Danny Kuaana, Bernie Kaai, Sam Koki, Johnny Pineapple, and Ernest Tavares through an increasingly complex maze of personnel changes and recombined groups.

Steeling Round the World Hawaiian Style (Harlequin HQ CD 182, p2003)
Hawaiian adventurers began traveling abroad from the very earliest years of European and American arrivals in the islands, and Hawaiian musical performances abroad begin to appear in travel logs in the early 1800s. Extensive touring by Hawaiian musicians and hula dancers increased substantially following annexation to the United States. In their wake, Hawaiian music took root in many places worldwide, giving rise to musicians and bands who worked tirelessly on presentation and promotion. This CD presents recordings by Hawaiian music performers based in Europe, Asia, and South Africa.

Broadway’s Gone Hawaiian (Harlequin HQ CD 187, p2005)
This CD gathers together a comprehensive selection of Hawai’i-themed novelty songs produced in New York’s Tin Pan Alley music publishing houses, and recorded by mainstream American popular music icons such as the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Dorothy Lamour, Dinah Shore, and Frank Sinatra,and Rudy Vallee. Songs include “Hello, aloha! How are you?” “Makinʻ wicky wacky down in Waikiki,” “On the beach at Bali-Bali,” “Pagan Love Song,” Why do Hawaiians sing aloha,” and “Yaaka hula hickey dula.”

Felix Mendelssohn & His Hawaiian Serenaders

Felix Mendelssohn & His    Hawaiian Serenaders (Harlequin HQ CD 93, p1997)
Paradise Isle (Harlequin HQ CD 162, p2001)

These two CDs survey the career of the popular London-based band led by Felix Mendelssohn, which included two musicians who went on to distinguished careers of their own, steel guitarist Roland Peachey and vocalist Kealoha Life.

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