RECOMMENDED RECORD: Fuemana: New Urban Polynesian (Urban Pacifica/digital outlets)

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RECOMMENDED RECORD: Fuemana: New Urban Polynesian (Urban Pacifica/digital outlets)

From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this album released for the first time on vinyl but now appears with an insert essay/overview by Martin Pepperrell.

Check out Elsewhere's other Recommended Record picks . . .


Deep in our archives there is an interesting interview with Phil Fuemana and Sisters Underground which took place three decades ago. It was when the Polynesian artists of South Auckland arrived back in their hometown at the end of an unprecedented national tour years ago, and the prime mover Phil was in an ebullient mood.

The milestone album Proud: An Urban Pacific Streetsoul Compilation had sprung Sisters Underground's hit In the Neighbourhood and people were discovering this new sound from an unexpected source.

But Fuemana looked to the future.

“These young people have just blossomed on the tour,” he told me. “We just need to get more videos on television to show the talent and colour out there . . . everyone knows the brown boys and girls have these great voices but our music scene currently doesn't reflect that.

“ Some of it's our own fault, some of us spend too much time in nightclubs singing the usual old stuff. Proud has proven there’s another way.”

The album New Urban Polynesian later that year appeared under the name Fuemana because it was a family affair: multi-instrumentalist Phil, his brothers Tony and Pauly (the latter rapping a little on Cool Calm, soon finding international fame as OMC with How Bizarre) and sister Christina. Guest vocalists were Sina Saipaia (later featured on How Bizarre), Matty J. and Carly Binding who would make her name later with TrueBliss.

New Urban Polynesian was a uniquely Pasifika take on soul with a production locating it closer to early Strawpeople more than Proud (original Strawperson Mark Tierney was one of the engineers).

Pauly's subsequent How Bizarre single and album owed very little to it because NUP was soul-pop on the sophisticated ballad Seasons, shuffling hip-hop repurposing Robert Flack/Donny Hathaway's Closer, a distinctive punching up of Stevie Wonder's Rocket Love, their smart street-soul groove on Deep of the Night and the dancefloor pleaser Fa A Samoa.

New Urban Polynesian – now remastered onto vinyl – was a one-off which didn't sell much.

But Phil Fuemana – who died in 2005 at 41 – saw his vision of young Polynesian artists on the frontline realised: he founded the Urban Pasifika label, his youngest brother became a global star, there was the rise of the Dawn Raid label and Scribe, Adeaze, Aaradhna, Mareko, Dei Hamo and others were becoming household names.

.

You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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