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Author Topic:   Sam Ku West and Sol Hoopii
Gary Anwyl

From: Palo Alto, CA

posted 30 December 2005 10:41 AM     profile   send email     edit
I've been listening to Les Cook's excellent Sam Ku West compilation lately. When I first saw the track listing, it struck me that Sol Hoopii recorded a number of the same tunes.

Of the twenty-two unique tunes that Sam Ku West recorded, six of them were also recorded by Sol Hoopii at about the same time: "Farewell Blues", "Lele Ulaula", "Palolo", "St Louis Blues", "Stack O'Lee Blues", and "Ua Like Noa Like". They also both did a version of "Wang Wang Blues", but Sol's version was recorded in the 30's on electric lap steel. Except for Sol's version of "Ua Like Noa Like" I've got recordings of all these tunes by both players.

It's interesting to compare and contrast the two players. I like them both, but in general Sol's playing is a little smoother and livelier to my ears.

They have a very different take on "Palolo". Sam's version is very Hawaiian, Sol's version is jazzy.

In looking at some discography information I noticed that they both recorded "Lele Ulaula" in March of 1928. It's probably not a coincidence.

One thing that really suprised me was how similar a couple of the songs were. Their arrangements of "Stack O'Lee Blues" are almost identical. You can match these two versions of the song up chorus for chorus and in each chorus they both do the same "steel guitar tricks" (e.g. they both play close to the bridge, or play a high tremolo, or play a slidey version). The same is true for "Farewell Blues".

For both of these tunes, Sol's recording was the earlier one. Both were recorded by Sol in 1926. Sam's version were recorded in 1927 and 1928. The fact that he "copied" Sol Hoopii is probably not a lack of creativity on Sam's part. It probably has more to do with the nature of the record business in the 1920's.

I know a lot of Forumites listen to a lot of old steel guitar recordings. Does anyone else have any other observations?

[This message was edited by Gary Anwyl on 30 December 2005 at 12:04 PM.]

Jesse Pearson

From: San Diego , CA

posted 30 December 2005 12:41 PM     profile   send email     edit
Hi Gary, I noticed some of those things too. Theres alot to be gleaned from that old Hawaiian stuff. Rick Aiello posted the audio of "My isle on Hilo Bay", man, what a stunning song (Sol Hoppii). I sing tenor now that I'm older, so the crooning stuff is right up my alley. I can see why that stuff used to move people so much, cause I'm telling ya, it still does. Your really missing out as a steel player if you don't study pre WW-2 Hawaiian IMO. Not just licks, but learning complete songs from beginning to end. Maybe some day if were lucky, there be a 24 song tab book in score format of the best Hawaiian stuff ever recorded, representing the best from all the best. Songs geared for gigging that go beyond the tourist stuff.
George Rout

From: St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

posted 30 December 2005 07:49 PM     profile   send email     edit
Hi folks. Being an older guy, I can tell you that as a kid, I often wondered why there were always "covers" as we call them now of songs by different artists. Nothing to do with Hawaiian music in particular, but if you take the song The Prisoner's Song, it was covered by many artists, as were many songs of that era. Even on the early LP's of steel guitar players, you had often the same tunes i.e., Steel Guitar Rag, Bud's Bounce, B. Bowmen Hop and Boot Heel Drag. So it wouldn't surprise me if Sol and Sam recorded what they both considered very listenable tunes of the time.
Mark Switzer

From: Norwalk, California, USA

posted 02 January 2006 02:51 PM     profile   send email     edit
Hey Jesse: Have you seen Stacy Phillips latest book? If I understand what you`re asking for, it seems pretty close.
AJ Azure

From: Massachusetts, USA

posted 02 January 2006 03:18 PM     profile   send email     edit
Perosnalyl i would love to see the same thing in a series of books! I coudl do pro engraving and publishing for it easily but, transcription is not my strength.



From: United Kingdom

posted 06 January 2006 09:10 AM     profile   send email     edit
Gary.. Thanks for the "Heads Up" regarding the recording dates of the Sol Ho'opi'i versions of those two tunes in particular..I was so wrong in assuming that Sol copied Sam, as it's obvious from the recording dates that (if anything) the opposite is true.
I very nearly went "To Print" with wrong information, and but for your most informative post, would have done so !!
( I must try and remember that old adage about mouth.. foot, and in it)

All times are Pacific (US)

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