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PAHINUI BROS. EVOKE EVENING ON THE BEACH

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With much aloha and mahalo, a wonderful record blows this way from the Hawaiian Islands, making landfall with a splash of what can be described only as progressive Polynesian country western.

The Pahinui Bros. are Cyril, Bla (James) and Martin, masters through melody and lyric at evoking an evening beside the tiki torches on the beach. Anybody who's spent any time at all ashore in the vast Pacific will recognize this island music, knowing at once its wistful feel for lost loves and long-gone friends.O forget me not, when you're so far away

Precious moments beside dear Suva Bay.

All this to the tropical whine of steel guitars in the virtuosic hands of Ry Cooder and David Lindley, who back the brothers up on most of the tunes, which range from traditional Polynesian love ballads to tropical party songs and the occasional tear-in-my-beer country cover.

Translations are offered only here and there. On "Mele of my Tutu E" it's up to the listener to use his or her lyrical imagination, but how much do you have to translate a line with a rhyme that transcends language? "Ho'okahi Sunday afternoon, there goes my tutu e. She was truckin' on down to town, on the alanui kapakahi e."

Just to keep things off-balance, the brothers do a spirited reggae version of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" and borrow Steve Earle's classic "My Old Friend the Blues" to turn a country standard on its head. Visions of tanked-up Texans slow-dancing in a honky-tonk give way somehow to swaying coconut trees etched against a fading sunset.

If ever there was a tune to two-step to, the Pahinui rendering of "Do You Love Me?" is it, pulled off nicely with the help of Dwight Yoakam in the background. On this track as on some of the others, Cyril Pahinui is eerily reminiscent of Southern rocker John Hiatt, who wouldn't have been out of place himself on the album.

In the dead of a dark December, this is the record to have: "Birds all along, the sunlight at dawn," singing Waimanalo Blues from Hawaii.

It's easier than it sounds.