A CD 30 Years In The Making


According to bassist Robin Kimura, “Music soothes the soul.

A song can transport you to a special time and place.”

That moment could be any point in time: now, a few weeks back, or maybe 30 years ago. That’s how long it’s taken Robin and his band Greenwood to finish their debut album, Lost In Paradise, released just a few days ago.

Greenwood formed in 1972, when Robin and most of his bandmates were in the ninth grade. They conquered the high school dance circuit that dominated our local music scene then, and progressed into the Waikiki nightclub scene in 1977. Demand for live entertainment dwindled in the 1980s. Greenwood disbanded. Their final project, they decided, would be to record an album. So in 1985, the band recorded a vinyl single in anticipation of completing a full-length LP soon after.

Greenwood's original 1985 vinyl single and the newly released debut CD 'Lost In Paradise' ROGER BONG PHOTO

Greenwood’s original 1985 vinyl single and the newly released debut CD ‘Lost In Paradise’ ROGER BONG PHOTO

That single — which featured a cover version of “Sparkle,” a tune written by Japanese R&B influencer Tatsuro Yamashita and translated to English by Greenwood — never found commercial success.

“It went nowhere,” Robin recently told me.

He said the same thing when I first met him in 2011: The single did “absolutely nothing” in Hawaii. No air-play, a few sales, hardly any press.

The rest of the project was quickly shelved.

Until 2008, when Japan’s DJ Muro included Green-wood’s rendition of “Sparkle” in his all-Hawaiian mixtape known as Hawaiian Breaks. It made waves worldwide and drove a resurgence of interest in Greenwood’s music, as well as other local bands featured on the mix.

A few years prior, Robin started organizing a concert series called the ’70s Nightclub Reunion. Greenwood, along with other “old school” local acts like Aura, Phase 7, Glass Candle and Natural High, reunited to perform for sold-out crowds.

It seemed like the perfect storm had gathered: Bands were reuniting and international interest was building. (A Japanese music retailer bought the remaining stock of vinyl singles from Robin, and the band repressed about 800 more copies to catch up with demand.)

“This amazing chain of events led us to decide it was time for us to complete the LP project,” Robin says.

Greenwood, which has consisted of up to a dozen band members since its beginnings, felt ready to get back into the studio to finish what started 30 some years ago.

“Music is forever,” Robin says. “It’s forever and will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

They granted their music another chance to live on when they started laying down tracks for their full-length album at Pierre Gill’s Rendez-Vous Recording Studio in Manoa. All of the band members on Green-wood’s single recorded Lost in Paradise, which highlights regional hits that charted well in Hawaii but not necessarily nationwide.

The album, for the band, is a token of accomplishment. For listeners like you, it’s a slice of songs that have been “lost in paradise” in Hawaii’s music scene. Give it a spin at greenwoodhawaii.com.

For more from Roger, check out his blog at alohagotsoul.com.