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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Merrell Fankhauser

Tiki Lounge Live

Review by Gary Hill

Merrell Fankhauser is known for his surf and Hawaiian guitar sounds. He's also known for his television show "Tiki Lounge." The songs here were all recorded over the course of several years as part of that show. There is a decent range of stuff from country music to folk rock, 1960s pop and more. There are a number of guest artists featured. All in all, this is entertaining. I will say that the introduction bits and audience responses seem to be tacked on and tend to take away from the flow of the set. Beyond that, though, this works well.

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Track by Track Review
Merrell - Fair Winds Blowin
This has a real 1960s folk meets pop kind of vibe to it. It's a fun number that works well. The melodic guitar solo is quite tasty. A percussion break is an interesting change. The cut comes back in with style from there.
The Brymers - Love of Rock n Roll
An energetic electric guitar rocker, I like this tune a lot. It's a lot of fun. I dig the guitar solo and the organ on the closing jam.
Lindsey Ikeno - My Ipo
Combining a pop rock vibe with more traditional Hawaiian music, this is a gentle and fun piece.
Tim Fankhauser - Witch Doctor
Tim Fankhauser is Merrell's son. He delivers a cool cut with a bit of psychedelic edge to it. I dig the melodic guitar soloing on this a lot. The whole tune really works well. In fact, it is one of my favorites here.
Merrell - Jungle Lo Lo Band
I dig the guitar sound on this old school rocker.
Merrell - Sweet Janeita
Folk and 60s pop seem to blend on this pleasant tune.
Merrell - Nawiliwili with You
Old school rock and roll merges with Hawaiian sounds here. This is bouncy and fun, and feels a bit like The Beach Boys at times.           
Merrell - Feelin OK
A mellow number, the fiddle brings a bit of a country edge to this piece. It's a slow moving, balladic piece that has a lot of charm in the mix.
Merrell and Ed Cassidy - Out of the Town
This is a cool electric rocker that works really well. The saxophone is a great touch.
Big John - Rockin Country
There is a lot of old school country music in the mix on this number. It has a healthy helping of folk music, too. The cut talks about a lot of the pioneers of rock and country music.
Merrell - California Cosmic Jam

This feels a lot like early Santana in a lot of ways. I can make out some hints of things like War here, too. It's a classy tune that works really well.

Merrell - Tiki Lounge
As you might guess, this has a real Island vibe to it. It's a classy tune that works pretty well. I dig the percussion break that eventually takes the track (and the album) to its close.
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