Wiz Kidz - Familiar Stranger

Wiz Kidz – Familiar Stranger


An obscure release from Honolulu Hawaii based Wiz Kidz, really, this is pretty damn good and we are well overdue to review it.

Written by: gdmonline

ALBUM Familiar Stranger
YEAR 1984
CD INFO: Discogs Info

LINEUP Wayne Yoshimura – lead guitar, vocals * Van Deguzman – saxophone, vocals * George Leuchtenberg – bass, vocals * Duane Higa – keyboards, vocals * Ralph Rania – drums

TRACK LISTING 01 Dream Lady * 02 Boats Against the Current * 03 Time Is * 04 Don’t Give Up * 05 Down On My Luck * 06 What’s This Feelin’ * 07 Baby Blue Eyes * 08 I Can’t Believe It’s Happening * 09 Familiar Stranger


An obscure release from Honolulu Hawaii based Wiz Kidz. Really, this is pretty damn good and we are well overdue to review it, not that there’s a lot of info out there about it. ‘Familiar Stranger’ is a local private pressing it would seem, but music this good eventually gets out onto the open Internet sooner or later. In this case, it’s taken over thirty years to reach its target.

The Songs

Musically, there’s a lot going on here. Comparison wise, I can hear the Michael Stanley Band, Journey, and on that first track ‘Dream Lady’, tell me that isn’t Sonic Station rearing its head? OMG. Unfortunately the ballad ‘Boats Against The Current’ didn’t set my dial on auto-replay.

I shuffled onto the next track ‘Time Is..’ which is much better. Did they happen to borrow Fergie Frederiksen for the chorus? ‘Don’t Give Up’ is lightweight poppy AOR, just how some of us like it, the chorus really brings it home for the Kidz. ‘Down On My Luck’ is aligned to all that melodic power-pop/radio rock crossover during the early 80’s.

The other album highlight is ‘What’s This Feelin’ which sounds like a mirror-image of the Paul Godfrey Band, especially that magical chorus. ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ sees the Whiz Kids rip into hard rock mode, the song itself reminds me of something, but I can’t quite pick it.

The quality keep rolling along, ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Happening’ kinda sounds like Joe Vana from Mecca handling the lead vocal. There’s a female vocal toward the end there too. Nice. The finale is the 6 minute title-track ‘Familiar Stranger’. More Michael Stanley Band sounding touches here, and it’s a glorious ride to the end.

In Summary

There’s not much else to say but recommend this to anyone remotely interested in 80’s AOR. These Hawaiian’s certainly knew how to play. There’s another Hawaiian band called Roadshow which we might also cover in the near future. Recommended.


Dream Lady

Wiz Kidz - Dream Lady

Familiar Stranger
Wiz Kidz - Familiar Stranger

What’s This Feelin’
Wiz Kidz What's / This Feeling

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2 thoughts on “Wiz Kidz – Familiar Stranger

  1. [RichardB] Hey George. Line up details are as follows:
    Wayne Yoshimura – Lead guitar and vocals
    Van Deguzman – Saxophone and vocals
    George Leuchtenberg – Bass guitar and vocals
    Duane Higa – Keyboards and vocals
    Ralph Rania – Drums
    Produced by Derek Nakamoto
    Additional assistance: Tim Pierce, Chrissy Shefts, Tony Brock, Denny Fongheiser, Rick Phillips, Rick Feliz, Dave Amato, Tony, Rita & Dennis Fredericksen (I think this might answer your question above)
    There’s a few co-writes from Rick Phillips
    If you want me to upload a scan of the inner sheet just let me know.

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