I BELLI DI WAIKIKI - ALOHA
Aloha by I Belli Di Waikiki
Released: September 2021 on Part Records (Dielheim, Germany)
Reviewed: 02/01/2021 by Brandon Anderson (www.rockabillyrarities.com)
Aloha is the fourth album from Italian quartet I Belli Di Waikiki, featuring 11 brilliant renditions of traditional Hawaiian steel guitar classics such as “Sophisticated Hula”, “Minoi Minoi E”, and the venerable “Sleepwalk”.
Featuring: Luky Linetti aka Luca Bugno - vocals/steel guitar, Paul Fish aka Paolo Bortolomiol - double bass, Ato Kona aka Renato Ardizzoni - drums, Steve Mai Tai aka Stefano Pagotto - guitar/ukelele. Mastered by Diego Piotto, cover design by Luca Bugno
The album Aloha was first released as a CD in 2003 on Part Records, and this year the album sees its rerelease on vinyl LP!
“Minoi Minoi E” is the perfect opener with samples of waves crashing and smooth steel guitar that immediately transport you to the Hawaiian islands and set the scene for I Belli Di Waikiki’s lush and comforting soundscape. The recording is tight and crisp with everything sitting perfect in the mix, a common and welcomed nuance on Aloha that isn’t held in as high regard as it should be by many bands these days. Amazing work, musically and sonically!
“Bop A Hula” is a great rocked up Hawaiian tune that features great ukulele work from resident plinker Steve Mai Tai. The boys back up Luky Linetti with lush harmonies and the expert steel guitar work of Luky Linetti is definitely the highlight of this carefree trot down the beach. More modern music needs to feature steel guitars, plain and simple!
“Honolulu Baby” starts off featuring the fantastic jazz inspired guitar work of Steve Mai Tai but quickly hops things up a bit and brings us back to the welcomed Hawaiian theme with another rhythmic ukulele ride to the islands. Luky Linetti displays his multilingual abilities to sing and transition between different tongues throughout the entire song, creating a unique musical experience.
“Rock A Hula Baby” is what we’d imagine Bill Haley and His Comets would have sounded like if Bill would have been from Honolulu, Hawaii instead of Highland Park, Michigan. Luky and the boys have somehow harnessed the r&b/bee bop influence of early 50s rock and roll and mated it to the Hawaiian radio sounds of the 40s creating a convincing sound that comes off completely original but still would fit ambiguously into the multi-format radio station rotations of yesteryear with no problem whatsoever.
“Pearly Shells” is one of those songs that just makes you smile. Steve Mai Tai’s ukulele is again the feature of this track with more great steel guitar licks coming from Luky Linetti. By now we are wanting to get on a plane with our true love, escape to Hawaii, hit the sand, and collect some “Pearly Shells” of our own with Aloha as our holiday soundtrack!
“Ito Eats” is a nice, slowed down, groovy island jam with solid background hand percussion accompanying I Belli Di Waikiki’s airtight rhythm section. Noticeable again is the expert production work of Diego Piotto, providing a super tight mix with everything sitting perfectly in the sound-scheme.
“Sophisticated Hula” is a traditional Hawaiian steel guitar song that is instantly recognizable by music aficionados but not too well known by the public at large. Luky and the boys do a great job on their version of this instrumental classic and it very well may be our pick for favorite song off of Aloha. It definitely has us wanting to bust out that steel guitar we bought during the pandemic and finally learn how to play it… Eh, maybe we will just leave steel guitar duties to Luky!
“My Little Grass Shack” is perhaps the song that contains the most authentic Hawaiian sound and feel of the lot on Aloha. Jazz brushes shuffle along nicely with the clean guitar tones of Steve Mai Tai, and the crisp vocals of Luky Linetti. This is a strong contender for favorite only slightly losing to “Sophisticated Hula”.
“Moonlight Swim” is one Elvis fans may remember from his convertible cruise turned serenade scene in Blue Hawaii. Elvis didn’t write it but he claimed ownership of it and Luky Linetti takes a pretty good lease on it channeling Elvis properly and doing the king a solid with a rendition of “Moonlight Swim” that is one of the highlight tracks of Aloha. All that’s missing is the ’61 Dodge convertible full of backup singers!
“Me Rock-A-Hula” Remember when we mentioned Bill Haley earlier? Well, he actually wrote this one and it is the convergence point where rockabilly, western swing, and Hawaiian steel guitar music meet and the lines between all three become instantly blurred. Doghouse bass licks are expertly slapped around by Paul Fish to create a rollicking rhythm distinctly more thumping and in your face than Haley’s original. Linetti once again does a great job on steel guitar, and Steve Mai Tai does guitar legend Danny Cedrone proud with his expert guitar work.
“Sleepwalk” is a steel guitar classic that is covered by many and Luky and the boys do a great job on their version of one of the most recognizable songs ever written. It is a great way to end an album and really showcases the musical chops of I Belli Di Waikiki and Luky Linetti on steel guitar.
Aloha takes you on a paradisiacal journey, making you dream of beaches, palm trees, and luaus. We definitely recommend this piece of smooth tunes to get you relaxing in this post holiday wind down we are all experiencing. So sit back, relax, and unwind!
Track 1 - “Minoi Minoi E”
Track 2 - “Bop A Hula”
Track 3 - “Honolulu Baby”
Track 4 - “Rock A Hula Baby”
Track 5 - “Pearly Shells”
Track 6 - “Ito Eats”
Track 7 - “Sophisticated Hula”
Track 8 - “My Little Grass Shack”
Track 9 - “Moonlight Swim”
Track 10 - “Me Rock-A-Hula”
Track 11 - “Sleepwalk”
I Belli Di Waikiki was born from the Italian rockabilly band Luki Linetti & The Thunderstorms from Milan. After a trip to the U.S. with a stop in Hawaii, the guys were fascinated by the culture and music of the Hawaiian islands; where the hula dances, crashing waves, and scenic landscapes invite you to dream. The band immediately crossed this new musical influence with good old fashioned rock and roll, creating a unique style of island sounds.