Man, I love Don Ho! As far as I'm concerned, on The Islands he is THE MAN. I got to see him perform his act about three years ago in Waikiki. He was still as entertaining then as he was on this recording from 1967 or 68. Maybe more so. I got to talk with him a bit and the man is the shiznit. I know a lot of people think of Don as just an antiquated lounge act but he's more than that, he's the ultimate beach boy. A "kanaka" who beats the "haoles" at their own game and takes their "wahines" to boot.
This recording is on Reprise Records but sounds more like a slightly higher than average quality bootleg than a major label release. It's in mono which I thought it a bit odd for something recorded and pressed in the late 60s. The sound quality lacks a bit but it's a nice little snapshot of the Don Ho live show experience circa that time frame.
There was really no way to break the tracks down individually, they all kind of mush together cause Don would sing/talk/sing/talk/crack a joke and then sing something different. It's ripped and presented as two mp3s, one for side one and one for side two.
Side One Recorded at the Cocoanut Grove, Los Angeles
Introduction by Bill Dana
One Paddle, Two Paddle
What Now My Love (with Robin Wilson)
Soon It's Gonna Rain (Robin Wilson)
Side Two Recorded at The Royal Box, New York
Introduction by Arthur Godfrey
This Could Be the Start of Something Big
All That's Left Is the Lemon Tree
Goin't Out of My Head (The Aliis)
She's Gone Again (and I'll Remember You) (with Robin Wilson)
Born Free (with Robin Wilson)
You may be wondering who Robin Wilson and The Ali'is are (well, most of you probably know of The Ali'is). Apparently Don has always surrounded himself with an entourage of "up and coming" talent. When I saw him he had a few opening acts that were obviously under his wing. One of them was this crazy country cowboy who was allegedley a Cajun firefighter, but speaking with him after the show I noticed his "accent" would meander from Cajun to Australian to...I don't know...Ohio, or something. I'm guessing Robin Wilson was one of his proteges. The Ali'is were his back up singers who went on to become an independent act of their own. Why they covered "Goin' Out of My Head" is beyond me. It's a weird rendition.
Don usually peaks out or ends his shows with a couple of tunes: "Tiny Bubbles" and "Born Free." Now, I get "Tiny Bubbles." Its the song that everyone thinks of when they think of Don Ho. But why "Born Free?" He still features that song to this day.
Unfortunately, East Coast/West Coast is not as focused on the Hawaiian tunes as I'd like. I'm sure Don was courting mainstream at the time but its worth downloading and burning to a shiny disc for some play in the car. The jokes are risque and since it's early in his career, Don gives some back story to many of the songs.Don Ho!