C and K Vocal – Generace (1977)

Cover

Czechoslovakia. With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy at the end of WWI, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed, encouraged by, among others, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The Czechs and Slovaks were not at the same level of economic and technological development, but the freedom and opportunity found in an independent new country enabled them to make strides toward overcoming these inequalities. However, the gap between cultures was never fully bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the seventy-five years of the union.

The first republic led by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (politician, sociologist, and philosopher), a rationalist and humanist, lasted until the German occupation and settled the country in the 10th position of world industrial production. The second and third republic was shortened by the beginning of the communist era, after WWII in 1948.

Prague Nazi Occupation
Prague Nazi Occupation

Then, the economy was committed to comprehensive central planning and abolition of private ownership of capital. Czechoslovakia became a satellite state of the Soviet Union; it was a founding member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) in 1949 and of the Warsaw Pact (URSS’s response to OTAN) in 1955. The attainment of Soviet-style command socialism became the government’s avowed policy.

Although Czechoslovakia’s industrial growth of 170 percent between 1948 and 1957 was impressive, it was far exceeded by that of Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany (almost 300 percent). The 1960 Constitution declared the victory of socialism and proclaimed the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

De-Staliniziation had a late start in Czechoslovakia, in the early 1960s, the economy became severely stagnant, the industrial growth rate was the lowest in Eastern Europe. As a result, in 1965, the party approved the New Economic Model, introducing free-market elements into the economy. The KSČ (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) ‘theses’ of December 1965 presented the party response to the call for political reform.

Alexander Dubcek
Alexander Dubcek

Democratic centralism was redefined, placing a stronger emphasis on democracy. The leading role of the KSČ was reaffirmed but limited. On January 5, 1968, the KSČ Central Committee elected Alexander Dubcek, a Slovak reformer, to replace Novotný as the first secretary of the KSČ. The most turbulent period since the war had begun, amongst the wanted reforms were the press freedom, the end of political monopoly (from Communist Party), the free party organization, religious tolerance, amid other measures that pointed to a radical democratization of Czechoslovakia.

The massive support from intellectuals, the society and countries like Yugoslavia left the URSS fearful with the end of their hegemony and on August 20, 1968, after refusing to attend a meeting at the Warsaw Pact.

These same troops from the alliance invaded the city of Prague, Dubcek was arrested and brought to Moscow, along with other Czech leaders.

Prague Spring
Prague Spring

The following months were marked by the peaceful resistance to the occupation from the population. Local radio broadcasts were brief stimulating resistance. Days after the seizure of Prague has triggered a general strike. The USSR tried unsuccessfully to arrange a collaborationist government, but the solidarity with the old leadership had become widespread. Dubcek returned to Prague and still remained for some time in office. But the reform plan was dropped in exchange for the withdrawal of troops.

In January 1969, a young man immolated himself publicly in the Czech capital, restarting a wave of demonstrations. But by that time, the hard-line Communist Party had recomposed. The favor of rapprochement with the USSR again took control of the party. The election of Gustáv Husák, in April 1969, which succeeded Dubcek, ended the short but significant movement known as the Prague Spring. The reforms would come just two decades later, with the crisis of the socialist bloc. (!)

21 Srpen 1968, Praha
21 Srpen 1968, Praha

Let’s go to our history:

In 1969, long-time collaborators Jiri Cerha and Ladislav Kantor had the idea to get together talented vocalists for a multi-timbered vocal ensemble, and so was born C&K Vocal. At first, their style was folk-based and they often participated in folk and country festivals. By 1973 though, with their new concert repertoire, they started exploring the rock. The line-up included Lubos Pospisil, Zdena Adamova, Milena Cervena and Helena Arnetova besides the two co-founders.

In 1976 they released an English Lp called Generation, which was mostly comprised of unique covers of rock artists such as Uriah Heep, Flamengo and Marek Grechuta. The Czech version was released a year later containing a considerable number of originals as well. The style was hard prog, quite similar to Flamengo but with voices replacing saxophones and strings/synths replacing Hammond.

Early C&K Vocal
Early C&K Vocal

The prog influence was likely brought to the band by guitarist Ota Petrina, who was a co-writer and producer and also the leader of the instrumental segment which included top Czech musicians such as Pavel Fort, Guma Kulhanek, Jan Kubik, and Anatoli Kohout. During the late ’70s and early ’80s, the band focused on audiovisual programs, combining music with photography, visual arts and film. They also recorded a considerable amount of singles and another English-sung Lp Growing Up Time.

During the late 80’s they recorded two more albums, Balada o Zemi (1985) and Causa Krysar (1989), the latter of which had a modernized 80s new wave sound but also abundant symphonic elements. Ladislav Kantor left the ensemble in 1990, but despite this, they have still been sporadically active.

Multi-Arts Ensemble
Multi-Arts Ensemble

Let’s go to our album:

Today’s record will leave the fans of choral and vocal techniques much impressed. With a large range of influences such as rock, prog, soul, jazz, Latin tinges, ballads, and an incredible backing band this is one of the musical gems that the Iron Curtain hid in those days. The Czech Republic has also a distinct mark in terms of arts: the Czech new-wave cinema, Franz Kafka, Gustav Mahler, Antonín Dvorak and many Cubist, Abstract and Surrealist painters, are just a few names of this underestimated society.

The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Rám Příštích Obrazů, a fantastic opening track, delivering complex harmonics in a carrousel of voices and soulful breathtaking conclusion, just brilliant! And Doky, Vlaky, Hlad A Boty, with resemblance of Flamengo’s sound (a dedicated post of them will be held), this brass-rock got some psychedelic riffs, sweet breakbeats, and a wholly tuned vocal performance.

Enjoy this commie rock act and Boa Viaxe!

Night Overview
Night Overview

Tracks Include:

A1 Rám Příštích Obrazů (music: V.Misik, lyrics: J.Kainar)

A2 Na Kraji (music: J.Cerha, lyrics: L.Kantor)

A3 Lásko, Lásko… (music: O.Petrina, lyrics: L.Kantor)

B1 Doky, Vlaky, Hlad A Boty (music: J.Kubik, lyrics: L.Kantor)

B2 Generace (Životopis) (music: J.Cerha, lyrics: L.Kantor)

B3 Vteřiny (music: J.Cerha, lyrics: L.Kantor)

B4 Chorovod (Korowód) (music: M.Grechuta, lyrics: L.A.Moczulski, L.Kantor)

Supraphon 1 13 2023

Credits

  • Alto Vocals – Helena Arnetová (tracks: A1, B2, B3), Milena Cervená
  • Guest, Soprano Vocals – Zdena Adamová (tracks: A2)
  • Mezzo-Soprano Vocals – Petra Janu (tracks: B2)
  • Tenor Vocals – Lubos Pospisil (tracks: A3, B1, B3)
  • Baritone Vocals –  Ladislav Kantor (tracks: B1, B4)
  • Bass Vocals (Bass-Baritone) – Jiri Cerha (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
  • Arranged By (Vocal) –  C & K Vocal (tracks: A1 to A3, B3, B4), Jiri Cerha (tracks: A2, B1, B2, B4), Ota Petrina (tracks: A3, B3)

Leader (C&K Vocal) – Ladislav Kantor

Backing Band – Labyrint

  • Bass Guitar – Vladimir Kulhánek (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
  • Drums, Percussion, Congas – Anatoli Kohout (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
  • Electric Piano, Organ, Piano, Percussion – Pavel Vetrovec (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
  • Guest, Bass Guitar – Vladimír Padrunek (tracks: A3)
  • Guest, Congas – Jiri Tomek (tracks: A2, B4)
  • Guest, Drums – Vlado Cech (tracks: A3)
  • Guest, Flute – Jiri Stivin (tracks: B2), Libor Mikule (tracks: B3)
  • Guest, Organ – Petr Dvorak (tracks: B3)
  • Guest, Synthesizer (Moog) – Jan Neckar (tracks: B2, B4), Martin Kratochvíl (tracks: A3)
  • Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Percussion – Jan Kubík (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
  • Arranged By (Instrumental), Electric Guitar – Pavel Fort (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2)
  • Arranged By (Instrumental), Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar –  Ota Petrina (tracks: A3, B3, B4)
  • Leader (Labyrint) – Pavel Fort
  • Photography By – Vladimír Merta
  • Producer [Umělecká Spolupráce] – Hynek Zalcik

Notes

Released in collaboration with the Mladý Svět magazine, Discotheque of Mladý Svět edition series. Recorded at the Supraphon studio Dejvice, Prague, from December 16, 1974, to September 3, 1976.

Lately
Lately

Aris San (אריס סאן) – Hataklit Hashvii (Record Seven) [1974]

capa cópia

Israel. As one of the first lands to form after WWII, Der Jundesntaat it’s been sought after since the biblical Diaspora and theorized by Theodor Herzl from the late XIX century. Declared and recognized as a state in 1948/49 from Mandatory Palestine, this controversial maneuver suffered rejection from the Arab League and other organs linked to the Palestinian cause. The conflicts and tensions among the two, are one of the most iconic cases of intolerance and racism in our history!

The Israeli occupations (since 1967), armed conflicts and hatred shown by the parties, seem to be viewed with compliance eyes by the Western society.

50's Immigration
50’s Immigration

With the strong support and lobby from U.S. and England this young country in merely 10 years tripled your population to almost 3.5 million, much caused by the Aliyah (Jewish immigration) and an international immigration boom, turning a secluded society into a mixture of cultural/religious influences that arrived from Iraq, Russia, Tunisia, Yemen, Germany, Iran, Poland, Romania and many others.

Aris San arrived in 1957 seeking a place to show his electric abilities and in less than five years would become one of the greatest stars of Israel, the so-called King of Jaffa.

Let’s go yo our history:

Old Jaffa, Clock Tower
Old Jaffa, Clock Tower

Aristotelis Saisanas (January 19, 1940 – July 25, 1992) was born in Kalamata, Greece in an Orthodox family. With 8 years old they moved to Athens, where he completed his studies at the elementary school. With 11 years, won a young talent competition and at 16 began performing in taverns, singing and playing guitar. (!)

He moved to Israel when he was 17, where quickly became a local star singer. The early ’60s had started a Greek wave of popular (mostly laika based) music in Israel, nightclub related music with bouzouki originating from Athens and Thessaloniki.

Aris San, Moshe Oralevich & Moty Morad
Aris San, Moshe Oralevich & Moty Morad

Arianna nightclub in Jaffa, became Aris ‘headquarters’, even general Moyshe Dayan loved his music and helped him to legalize its affairs. His shows became very popular, not only ordinary people came to see him, but also politicians and the highest army officers. Thanks to his relations, Aris San got himself Israeli citizenship (almost impossible to obtain for a non-Jew) and his career was promptly rising.

In the mid-’60s, everyone was singing Aris’s hits, and by the end of the decade, he managed to sell more than 500,000 copies between singles and albums, starring film soundtracks, playing throughout the country (after the Six-Day War) and definitely shaped the Israeli rock sound. (!) What it seemed to be an unstoppable career, quickly changed when rumors that Aris was a spy and stories of a violent relationship with Aliza Azikri (pregnant at the time) began circulating. Plus his open defense to Zionism (sic) and straight relation with the military, formed a boiling cauldron.

Aris Trio
Aris Trio

He left Israel hurt, and set out to conquer America, fleeing to New York in late 1970. There, he even shaved his mustache and started to wear a wig and large glasses. (!)

After moving to New York, in 1972 he opened a famous club called the Siroco, which will quickly become a temple of the bourgeoisie. Its frequenters could be seen by Anthony Quinn, Telly Savalas, Melina Mercouri, Harry Belafonte and the mob boss Joe Gallo, (for whom Bob Dylan wrote the Joey in Desire Lp).

Gallo stuck with him, pushing it to the coke addiction; Aris became a rich man and enjoyed all the wealth and excitement that America of the ’70s and ’80s had to offer. With bad influences the sandcastle collapsed, he got involved with drug deals, local Mafiosi and was convicted for two years, in a drug possession charge.

Aris San & Louis Armstrong, Siroco, 1971
Aris San & Louis Armstrong, Siroco, 1971

Free from prison, his life dramatically changed. Suffering from paranoia and depression, he fled to Budapest, trying to revive his career. After a broken hand, he was hospitalized and died of a heart attack a few days later. Some claimed that the mob was involved, while others claim that he went underground. (RIP)

This curious tragic fact has retreated in the documentary The Mystery of Aris San (2007), directed by Dani Dothan and Dalia Mevorach, check it out!

Let’s go to our album:

Hataklit Hashvii or Record Seven is a true masterpiece, despite not having the MEGA hit Dam Dam (probably his famous song). What I consider the pinnacle of his career, letting the romantic / beat side far away, Aris’s band (drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards), also got sax and flute passages, female choir and light fuzz.

Magazine
Magazine

Singing in Greek and Hebrew (in previous albums he also sang in Spanish), his music got the perfect blend between the uptempo positive Laika style and the harmonic/melodic minor key influences from the East. Added to this, his superb technique in Guitar/Bouzouki timbre, smiling figure and behaved persona, distant from the rebellious western rock bands, made Israel embraced him as one of them.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Im Etn Ani Lach Mi and Den Katalaveno Tipota.

Geras Kelionė!

Tracks Include:

A1 Afilotimi (Hatzinasios)

A2 To Palikari (Aris San)

A3 Gam Hapa’am (Folklore)

A4 Dipli Zoy Diplos Kaymos (Aris San)

A5 Im Eyn Ani Lach Mee (Aris San)

A6 Okutalyanos (Katsaros)

B1 Den Katalaveno Tipota (Kinoussis)

B2 Rak Bachalom (Kaniel)

B3 Katerina (Katsaros)

B4 Hakol Sh’karim (Aris San)

B5 Alou Esikialou (Aris San)

B6 Tou Andra Tou (Markopoulos)

Notes

A1, A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, B5, B6: Sung in Greek.

A3, A5, B2, B4: Sung in Hebrew.

CBS 65990

Tel-Aviv, Shoreline
Tel-Aviv, Shoreline

Indonesian Mixtape ~ 2013

Benny Soebardja & Lizard
Benny Soebardja & Lizard

Indonesia. Fossilized remains of Homo Erectus and his tools, popularly known as the Java Man, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by at least 1.5 million years ago. Austronesian People who form the majority of the modern population, are thought to have originally been from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; for the most part, Islam is overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and (curious tolerant) multiple religious influences.

Europeans arrived in Indonesia from the 16th century seeking to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was established and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the Netherlands government created the Dutch East Indies under government control. (sic)

By the early 20th century, Dutch dominance extended to the current boundaries. The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupations in 1942-45 during WWII ended Dutch rule and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan on August 1945, nationalist leader (future leader), Sukarno, declared independence and became president.

Tielman Brothers
Tielman Brothers

While the West and many other western-styled democratic countries reveled in rock music, the left-leaning government of Sukarno took a dim view of western influence in the early days of the Indonesian Republic, restricting the purchase and sale of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, as well as those of homegrown artists performing western-style rock music. This could be accredited to a rejection of Western culture after three centuries under Dutch colonial rule and was argued to help Indonesian artists create their own form of Indonesian pop music. (!)

Sukarno’s government insisted on Indonesia producing its own brand of pop music, yet many of these groups still showed western musical influences in their arrangements shown either by the crooner styled vocals or R&B flavored guitars for rhythm. Indonesia’s more popular groups, most notably Koes Bersaudara, later renamed Koes Plus found life increasingly difficult under Sukarno frequent queries from the authorities for performing western rock, while other Indonesian rock n’ roll pioneers like the Tielman Brothers had to make their name in Europe.

These were the early beat, garage and pop scene.

Dara Puspita 60's
Dara Puspita 60’s

Let’s go to our history:

Sukarno’s anti-imperial ideology saw Indonesia increasingly dependent on Soviet and then communist China. By 1965, the PKI was the largest communist party, outside the Soviet Union or China. Penetrating all levels of government, the party increasingly gained influence at the large expense of the army.

On September 30, 1965, six of the most senior generals within the military and other officers were executed in an attempted coup. This fact prompted a violent army-led communist purge, aided by CIA and British Foreign Office, over a million people were killed in a year, a year and a half, throughout the country. (!!)

1965-66 Prisions
1965-66 Prisons

General Suharto politically outmaneuvered President Sukarno, and became president in March 1968. When he finally opened the floodgates for western culture, Suharto’s new order regime’s friendly stance towards western powers allowed the emerging rock music scene to flourish. With the country entering open relations with the western, many Anglo-American artists like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Genesis, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, King Crimson, Janis Joplin and Black Sabbath flooded Indonesia’s radio waves while its fresh new sound helped create many of Indonesia’s best-known artists of the ’70s, be it directly or indirectly. The decade also provided numerous bands and household rock stars still active on today’s musical charts.

Thanks to Now Again’s fantastic compilation (2011) of Indonesian rock, Those Shocking Shaking Days, people worldwide were able to taste the greatest bands from the Indorock scene. With a tumultuous historical background, led by a 33-year dictatorship, Rock music was a real exhaust valve in a land of fear, death, and corruption. We’re talking about a place where a right-wing paramilitary organization Pemuda Pancasila grew out of the death squads to reach maximum popularity as national heroes! They got strictly bonds with the government and more than 3 million members throughout Indonesia! With no trials or official recognition, this frightening aspect it’s shown on Joshua Oppenheimer documentary, The Act of Killing.

Commie Purge
Commie Purge

Let’s go to our mixtape:

A Mixtape it’s a personal choice that usually ranges a certain time or era, serving as a gateway for new listeners. Today we’ll focus on 70’s scene, therefore, some brilliant Indonesian bands will be out of our first selection, such as Koes Plus, AKA, Shark Move, Super Kid, Panbers, Duo Kribo, etc. Their complete biography and developments will be left for an exclusively dedicated post, there will be many, don’t worry! This is just warming for Indonesian rock, phew, let’s to them!?

Dara Puspita ~ Tabah & Cobalah (1971)

dara puspita 71 cópia

Harapan Kosong /// Did You Know That?

Dara Puspita (Flower Girls) was Indonesia’s most successful girl band of the 1960s. The girls were one of the few groups who actually played their own music. Hailed from the city of Surabaya in East Java and first formed in 1964, on 1965 the band relocated to Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and soon gained a reputation as a sensational live act, bashing away their instruments, jumping and screaming out their songs.

Riding on the beat garage, in 1968 they took the almost unprecedented move for an Indonesian band of trying their luck in Europe and spent the next few years touring in England, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Hungary. They even played in Turkey and Iran! In late 1971 the girls returned to Indonesia and played a number of concerts, and on April 1972 they played their last show.

The selected songs are from their last era, a real psychedelic issue with less girlie posture, serious fuzz, and organ. Words in English and Indonesian, some soul swing and no political themes on lyrics. By the way, the band was much used in Suharto’s years as a nationalist flag of Indonesia’s greatness (sic). Their 71′ released are also on Hans Pokora’s book, that’s why is so difficult to find any good transfer.

Harry Roesli Gang ~ Philosophy Gang (1973)

harry roesli cópia

Peacock Dog //// Roda Angin

Harry Roesli has been a well-known artist in Indonesia, who pioneered contemporary music with consistent delivery of social and humanity critics in a straight forward and transparent way. He was born in Bandung and passed away on December 11, 2004.

During early ’70s, Harry formed a band called Gang of Harry Roesli with his friends: Albert Warnerin, Indra Rivai, and Iwan A Rachman. Five years later the group was disbanded. Harry was then granted a scholarship by Cultuur, Recreatie en Maatschapelijk Werk (CRM), to study in Rotterdam Conservatorium, Netherlands. To support his life while studying and expressing his musical talent, he played piano at Indonesian restaurants, achieving Ph.D. in Music (1981) and then lecturing at the department of music at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI).

This is his first release, words in English and Indonesian, fabulous keys timbres, small Latin accent with a pop-psych overall. Harry lyrics suffered constant boycotts and a blacklist agenda by the military government. He’s certainly the most restless author from all, with dozens of records and few acknowledgments worldwide.

Benny Soebardja & Lizard ~ Benny Soebardja & Lizard (1975)

Benny Soebardja cópia

Crime /// Loosing Time

The Indonesian Hendrix, the self-proclaimed founder of the private press scene, Benny Soebardja is one of the most important figures from the Indonesian music industry. Having been a member of three of the biggest bands in Indonesia: The Peels, Shark Move and Giant Step. Backed by the almost unknown Lizard band.

He got some problems due to its first solo release, with a banned cover and government intimidation who saw too much freedom of speech on its lyrics. The words in English were made with the help of British poet Bob Dook. With psychedelic nature, organ, reeds, light/heavy guitar work, and harmonic soulful chorus, some social criticism themes are included. He’s still on the run!

God Bless ~ God Bless (1976)

godbless cópia

Sesat /// Eleanor Rigby

God Bless pioneered the birth of rock music in Indonesia dated back in early ’70s. The band’s central figure vocalist Ahmad Albar, previously formed Take Five (1966-1967), and later Clover Leaf (1967-1972). When he returned to Indonesia, Fuad Hassan (drums), Donny Fatah (bass) and Deddy Dores (keyboard) were invited to form with him, God Bless. They dominated rock music performance during the decade, even though they did cover versions of Deep Purple, Genesis, Kin Ping Meh, Queen.

God Bless also performed as the opening act for a spectacular show (with 120,000 crowds!) featuring Deep Purple live in Stadion Utama, Jakarta, 1975. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1976, by Indonesian label Pramaqua. With a major hit: Huma di Atas Bukit the album remarked the birth of Indo rock scene.

Classic Rock at it’s the best definition, words in Indonesian with a tuned rock band. They’re the best selling rock band from Indonesia history and are still on the run!

Giant Step ~ Kukuh Nan Teguh (1977)

giant step cópia

Mekar //// Alam Bebas

One of the legendary Indonesian progressive rock acts of the ’70s, with influences from the American/British prog legends, they established their own sound with great originality. They went through a series of line-up changes with the omnipresent figure of Benny Soebardja, plus the best musicians from Bandung: Deddy Stanzah (Rollies), Deddy Dores (Freedom of Rhapsodia), Albert Warnerin (Philosophy Gang).

They managed to release several albums with great commercial success before finally breaking up in 1986. Sung in Indonesian, strong moogs and synths, nice guitars, flutes, broken signature, and beautiful rock ballads. Altogether, you can call them true prog heroes, with no influences from traditional music or social criticism themes.

Guruh Gipsy ~ Guruh Gipsy (1977)

guruh gipsy cópia

Janger 1897 Saka /// Geger Gelgel

The only album released by the band (with Chrisye), it’s the second greatest from all time according to Rolling Stone Indonesia (!). We’ll make a complete post with biography and info members in the near future, this is no ordinary record! After sixteen months of production, as the two musical elements have different spectrum in terms of notes and chords progression, Guruh spent a lot of time outside the studio to learn the subtleties of western music as well as Bali traditional music. They strived to find the harmony that blended prog rock with Bali traditional gamelan music.

With a rock combo (guitar, bass, drums, organ), orchestra, female backing vocals, heavy moogs, and traditional instruments, this is probably the greatest mix between traditional and modern anglo music I’ve ever seen, at least in Indonesia!

A symphonic prog with outstanding arrangements, full-length songs, heavenly chorus and many different climates throughout the record, a must-see.

Trip Becik!

Indonesian Orangutan
Indonesian Orangutan

Kim Choo Ja (김추자) Mixtape ~ 2013

kim choo ja cópia

Born January 2, 1951, in the city of Chuncheon, the youngest in a family of 5 sisters, Kim Choo-Ja (김추자) is considered the first sex symbol of Korean pop music. Despite being an unknown worldwide, she’s one of the most influential artist’s from the Republic of Korea. Born with a lascivious curvy body, something unusual for an Asian, she was not afraid to show off in her dances, performances, clothes and record covers, wearing tight jeans or mini skirts, tops with cleavage-boosting and tall boots, a real foxy! During her career, Choo-Ja passed through a lot of personas and attitudes, that not only reflected on her appearance but also on her sound and sexuality, like the early beat-girlie, the stoned-rock-hippy, and ultimate ferocious diva!

Even didn’t write her songs, as an interpreter, she was much helped by Shin Joong Hyun, the godfather of K-Rock, through her career, especially in her first steps. They met each other in 1969 after she had won the first prize in a festival of Arts at the University of Dongguk, where she graduated in Theatre and Cinema.

1971
1971

In October’s same year, debuts her first album: Before Its Late (늦기 전에), produced by Shin and accompanied by the band The Donkeys, the record reached great commercial success, introducing a new face in Korean pop music. Based on the psychedelic combo bass-drums-guitars-keyboards they Americanize traditional folk/trot music, until then, sung only in a high pitch by singers that looked like plasticized mannequins with their stern-tacky Hanboks.

With more than 30 (!) albums released between 1969 to 1975, Kim Choo-Ja completely dominated the 70’s and has established herself as one of the greatest singers of an era. She had problems with the censors for her hit ‘It’s a Lie’, which was banned by the military dictatorship, on the allegation that it instigates distrust. The military government, ruled by the infamous Park Chung-heealso suspected her dance moves to be a hand signal for North Korean spies. (?!)

1973
1973

There was a period of blacklists and stronger repression, motivated by Shin’s charge and arrest for marijuana possession, in December 75. During those years she was out of the charts, but it won’t last much, her big comeback took place in the series of shows Recital 78, released on 1980, the album brings her greatest hits on some different live arrangements, but it’s probably the cover, its most iconic and extravagant leap, an incredible Korean Power Booty!!

For a society that has lived under a dictatorship for decades, Choo-Ja suffered constant boycotts from the government until its fall in 1988.

With the ’80s, she launches more than 15 (!) discs from live shows (mostly) and romantic collections; due to their children, a remarriage and family reasons, she retires from the market in 1988. But the legacy of Choo-Ja can be seen, in parts, with all those never-ending pretty dolls who littered the Korean pop music scene today.

Hippy 70
Hippy 70

Let’s go to our record:

Today’s album is actually a Mixtape, organized by myself, traversing many records, trying to go through all periods from our Korean Bombshell!

It’s a pop-psychedelic beginning, the encounter with the Soul and its variations, the Latin accent, their romantic-modern versions of Trots and even a medley from the aforementioned ‘Recital 78’, with several successes, such as ‘Sgt. Kim’, ‘Regret’, ‘Rumour’, and even a version from ‘Ani Holem al Naomi’, single that sold more than 1 million copies in 70s Japan, from the Israeli duo Hedva and David!

We would be unfair to Choo-Ja if we just label her as an exclusively psych-folk singer, such as Kim Jung Mi (김정미) was. What we see here are Big Bands and their orchestrations, Brass Funk-Soul, Psych, Rock, Trots, Ballads and a familiar Korean tendency to put a few spoons of sugar into the romanticism‘Nangman’ (낭만)!

Portrait
Portrait

Unfortunately, the translation and reading in Hangul are extremely difficult, the content of the lyrics is still an incognita, as well some of the albums where the songs came out. A large number of compilations, pirate and collaboration albums, contribute to make this a HARD work, but in almost all themes the year is indicated on the mp3 file.

The ‘IM’ highlights today are for: ‘No’ (아니) a megaton groove, with breakbeats, brass, and an outstanding guitar swing! This is a really infectious soul that could be covered by any funk masters, such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power or even the pope James Brown! The other one is ‘Rain’ (비), one of the few that I couldn’t retrieve any info, what a pity! I’ve got a sentimental keen on that, a standard ballad, with Big Band accompaniment and a blue finale, an instant CLASSIC!

Lastly, don’t forget to check our special gallery selection, with some personal and rare photos. Phew! Perjalanan Yang Baik!