San Ul Lim (산울림) – Hourglass at Noon (한낮의 모래시계) [1979]

capa cópiaSan Ul Lim aka Sanulrim, is a South Korean power trio combo, the name is the combination of words, San (, mountain) and Ullim (울림, echo). The band is considered one of the most influential figures in the Korean Rock scene, its musical experiments varied from songs for children to progressive and psychedelic rock.

They broke up after the death of the drummer, Kim Chang-ik (김창익), in 2008 (RIP). Upon its release in 1977, their first LP sold over a half-million copies and paved the way for many further volumes. The songs are full of fuzz guitar, tinny keyboards, unique timbres, and simple production, reminding one of the American garage and pop-psychedelic groups from the ’60s, but with a very special Asian flavor. (!)

Let’s go to our artist:

The three members of San Ul Lim are brothers, they were Kim Chang-wan (김창완, 1954-), Kim Chang-hoon (김창훈, 1956-), and Kim Chang-ik (김창익, 1958-2008).

San Ul Lim, 70's
San Ul Lim, 70’s

The band, formed when the three were university students, was initially called Mui and was never meant to be professional. Kim Chang-hoon’s other college band, named Sand Pebbles, won the MBC College K-pop Festival with their song, What Shall I Do?; Mui was initially nominated to win with their song, Please Open the Door but wasn’t qualified because Chang-wan had already graduated from the university.

Gaining confidence, the band looked for a music agency, changing the name into San Ul Lim by their new manager’s demand. At first, they recorded a demo tape, the brothers had already over one hundred songs written before its debut, to then finally arrive at SRB label. Willing to sound like AC/DC heavy guitars, they’ve stumbled into insufficient technological know-how, thus, only depending on psychedelic ad-lib or fuzz guitar, this ironically made their sound unique, founding a longlasting stamp!

Live
Live

Their first album entitled Vol.1 아니벌써 (What, Already?) came out in December 1977, the Lp largely impacted the Korean music scene, becoming both critically and commercially successful, revealing a new type of music which Koreans had never heard before, people were totally absorbed with the psychedelic/hard rock sound.

San Ul Lim’s stellar appearance was significant because they vitalized the Korean popular music scene, which was currently devastated after several musicians were charged and arrested for marijuana possession. The dictatorial government of Park Chung-hee leaded mass boycotts on pop/rock music around 1975. (!)

During 1977-1984, they released more than 10 albums, ending in the middle of the disco boom (a bit late in South Korea) in 1984. With the K-pop retrospective revival during the ’90s, all of their Lp’s were reissued and a tribute album was released.

K-Rock Portrait
K-Rock Portrait

They performed in Seoul on July 5th, 2007 for their 30th anniversary and planned to release a vol. 14 album within the same year, unfortunately, on January 29, 2008, drummer Kim Chang-ik was killed in a work-related accident in Vancouver, Canada. Ever since, Kim Chang-wan announced the end of the band, though he recently reformed it and occasionally plays with another formation. He also has been actively performing as a musician, painter, actor, writer, and broadcast celebrity!

Let’s go to our album:

Today we’ve got a very special album, of an extremely important band! Still unknown to large Western audiences, (still expecting an official re-release of their albums), but thanks to the blogosphere work from Gold Korea Vinyl (for instance), Vol. 1 and 2 can be easily heard on youtube, soundcloud, etc. Here, let’s go a little further.

Last Revival
Last Revival

Together with Vol. 3, this Vol. 5 are my favorite, even if the compositions seem a bit naive in terms of harmony and arrangements, this power trio REALLY understands about colors and effects, maximizing the (holy) punk aesthetic of less is more.

There’s a previously unseen disco offshoot here, San Ul Lim’s vision and concept of it are quite unique, embracing multiple passages and genres. Lastly, Arirang’s cool series of documentaries, are available with legends in English, scrutinizing every detail of the rock development in the country, with an exclusive chapter on the band, its history, and idol status. Needless to say, more, check it out and ການເດີນທາງທີ່ດີ!

The ‘IM’ highlights are 무녀도 (No Women Island) and 백자 (White Porcelain).

Tracks Include:

A1 한낮의 모래시계 (An Hourglass in the Afternoon)

A2 오솔길 (A Trail)

A3 (The Spring)

A4 포도밭으로 가요 (Let’s Go to a Vineyard)

A5 무녀도 (No Women Island)

B1 이렇게 갑자기 (All of a Sudden)

B2 띄워라 (Fly a Kite)

B3 왜가 (Why, Leave)

B4 백자 (White Porcelain)

Credits

Chang Wan Kim (김창완): guitar, keyboards, vocals

Chang Hoon Kim (김창훈): bass

Chang Ik Kim (김창익): drums

Released on September 1979

SRB SR-0171

Bibimbap (Korean Cuisine)
Bibimbap (Korean Cuisine)

Kim Jung Mi (김정미) – 이건 너무 하잖아요 (It’s Too Much Unfair) [1974]

capa cópiaThe music of South Korea has evolved over the decades since the end of the fourth Korean War (1953) and has its roots in the music of the Korean people, who have inhabited the Korean peninsula for over a millennium. Contemporary South Korean music can be divided into three different main categories: Traditional Korean folk music, popular music, or K-pop, and Western-influenced non-popular music.

The first evidence of Korean music is old, and it has been well documented by surviving written materials from the 15th century and was brought to heights of excellence during the Yi Kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Imperial Japan’s annexation of Korea (sic) eliminated Korean music from 1905 to 1945. (!)

Traditional Music Ensemble
Traditional Music Ensemble

A brief post-war period reawakened folk and patriotic music, by 1951, Korea was split into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) and the Republic of Korea (South), from which emerged two completely different approaches to music.

Korean traditional music includes kinds of both folk and classical, including genres like sanjo, pansori, and nongak. The three types of Korean court music are Aak (oldest), Dang-ak (less known) and Hyang-ak (extant form). Today, the Korean Wave, or hallyu (한류), is the word used to discuss the influence of contemporary Korean popular culture on the rest of Asia, and also the rest of the world!

Traditional Dance
Traditional Dance

Let’s go to our artist:

T’onga guitar (tong guitar) is a form of Korean folk and folk-rock music developed in the early 60’s/70’s. It was heavily influenced by American folk music, artists in the genre were then, considered Korean versions of American folk singers, such as Joan Baez or Bob Dylan. Notable early Korean folk musicians include the American-educated Han Dae-soo and Kim Min-ki. Hahn and Kim recorded socially and politically conscious songs, and both had their work censored/banned by the (aforementioned) autocratic Park Chung-hee 1970s dictatorial government (sic).

Han Dae-soo
Han Dae-soo

Despite the government’s efforts to censor political music, popular folk songs increasingly came to be used as rallying cries for social change within Korea, leading to the term norae undong (노래운동), or literally, song movement, being coined to describe songs targeted at social change. In the midst of this turmoil, our today artist flourished thanks to the (irreplaceable) presence of Shin Joong Hyun.

At the dawn of the ’70s, South Korea’s rock music scene was at its zenith, much of the reason for this was the god-like musical touch of guitar wizard, songwriter, producer, and arranger Shin Joong Hyun. In 1971, he took a girl named 김정미 or simply Kim Jung Mi, and transformed her from a wallflower student into a (famous) folk-psych chanteuse in record time, like a Korean Francoise Hardy.

Kim Jung Mi, 1972
Kim Jung Mi, 1972

Born on April 23, 1953, they worked together intensively in six albums until the fateful year of 1975 where the Korean rock was shut down! Only to reinvent itself with the entry of San Ul Lim in 1977. Kim Jung Mi came back that same year with a different sound style and the last effort in 1978, to finally retire from the music business.

I really would like more information about her, like interviews and curiosities, about its life, or even recent news, but so far i (still) haven’t had much success reading and translating in Hangul, could our Korean friends give us any help?!

Let’s go to our album:

The rockier side of her, again thanks to Shin Yung-Hyun’s participation along with the Yupjuns, this certainly defined the Korean psych-rock sound; plus the addition of horns, organ, and even a string section. Still owing a decent reissue, unlike the recent hyped Now (1973), pressed by Lion Productions, and distributed by Light In The Attic, this groovy folk-funk are possibly her best work! With a famous cover from Janis’s Move Over (!), this one sprinkled pepper along with her folk, trot work!

Korean Gipsy
Korean Gipsy

Lastly, this rip comes from the Korean cd re-release, but believe me, the sound is identical to the few versions we have available in Soulseek, etc, terrible!!

But in any matter, this will disparage the appreciation of a beautiful B side from South Korea, let us enjoy another great artist and Udhëtimi i Mirë!

The ‘IM’ highlights are 너와 나 (You & Me) and 너를 갖고파 (I Want You).

Tracks Include:

1 이건 너무 하잖아요 (This Does So)

2 생각해 (Think)

3 난 정말 몰라요 (I Do Not Know Really) – Move Over

4 담배꽁초 (Cigarette Butt)

5 너와 나 (You & Me)

6 갈대 (Reed)

7 당신이 (You)

8 나는 바보인가 봐 (I’m Like a Fool)

9 너를 갖고파 (I Want You)

10 셋방살이 (Living in a Rented Room)

11 너를 보내고 (Send You)

Credits

Performer: Kim Jung Mi

Performed, Composed: Shin Joon Hyun & The Yupjuns

Jigu / JLS 120920

World Psychedelia / WPC6-8499

Psych Foxy
Foxy

He 6 (히식스) – Go Go Sound ’71 Vol.1 & 2

 

Korea. After the formation of Add4 by Shin Jung-Hyun in 1962, Korea saw the development of Rock music, obviously thanks to the world entrance of The Beatles. 1964 would mark the very birth of K-rock, bands like Key Boys and He 5 turned into a national success, the images seen in A Hard Day’s Night became a common point between these bands. The ’60s was presented with dozens of records, tours, television appearances and mass hysteria by the legion of fans avid for the Korean Beatles!

The leader and guitarist of He 5 was Kim Hong-Tak, one of the predecessors of the electric guitar alongside Shin Jung-Hyun; after the triumph of Merry Christmas Psychedelic Sound in 1969, including famous covers and versions of traditional songs, with the turn of the decade, the group decided to add flute and clarinet to their sound, thus He 6 was formed. Predicting this success formula, Korea would saw a definitive entrance of psych, garage, and soul in its musical charts.

1972 Promo
1972 Promo

Let’s go to our history:

Since the late ’60s they played hard psychedelic songs on live shows (At Seven Club in I-Tae-Won, a small quarter of Seoul which is now well known even internationally for its diverse markets, restaurants, and bars) but they couldn’t make this music style on albums because of record company’s pressures. They gave them some discretionary power to have them created the results which they had first on Merry Christmas Psychedelic Album and later on (fabulous) He 6 Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

But most their fans couldn’t understand the tracks of these albums, so they were forced to change to more popular styles, like trots and romantic ballads. (!)

At least they had their chances to make some albums with the music style they wanted after they became a nationally recognized pop-rock group. The band throughout their career launches only 8 albums, with the aforementioned difficulty to moving on after 1975 (second last Lp) and the definitive end in 1980.

Album Booklet
Album Booklet

Let’s go to our album:

This amazing set shows an excellent mixture of psychedelicblues-oriented hard rock and soul in a very laid back improvisation feeling. Kim Hong-Tak’s heavy fuzz guitar all-over the set with best funky rhythm set (Cho Yong-Nam and Kwon Yong-Nam, later entered in SJH & Yup Juns!) and beautiful flute passages.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Running Man, a furious 9-minute track coming out of a Blaxploitation movie, with tons of fuzz, swinging guitars, breakbeats, percussion and flutes in a variety of moods. A psychedelic shell! And In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the cover from Iron Butterfly’s megaton hit stands out to be a better version than Shin Joong Hyun’s live album, including the whole drum solo! Kim Hong-Tak’s abilities at guitar must be heard, this is no ordinary beat sound and deserves respect.

תיהנה בטיול!

Tracks Include:

Vol.1 Grand Records (GH-00020)

A1 Introduction Music

A2 4/4 For Guitar

B1 Running Man

B2 Percussion Theme

Vol.2 Grand Records (GH-00021)

A1 The World of 6/6

A2 The Storm

A3 Come On A Baby

B1 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Credits

Kim Hong-Tak: guitar

Hun Choi: vocal

Kwon Yong-Nam: drums

Cho Yong-Nam: bass

Yoo Sang-Yoon: flute, organ, clarinet

Lee Young-Deok: guitar, piano

Released in July 1971, Limited Press (300)

Freshly
Freshly

Shin Joong Hyun and The Yup Juns (신중현과 엽전들) – Vol. 1 (1974)

capa cópia

Shin Joong Hyun’s music on the last couple of years, began to be very widespread across the western world, thanks (once again) to Light In The Attic who even brought him to play its first show on American soil! Re-discovered and re-launched by Lion Productions, this is their last effort on the 70’s Korean musical scene.

With only two albums recorded, and its dissolution in 1975, the Yup Juns didn’t succeed at the time, much caused by military repression and boycott, that would last until the turn of the decade. With the coming 80’s Shin returned with other projects and began its upswing again. Its versatility and influence throughout decades assure him as a Korean answer to Hendrix or Brian Wilson’s work, as the godfather of Korean rock (K-Rock), we will return its biography along with other posts and records!

A Film's Excerpt
A Film’s Excerpt

Let’s go to our artist:

Korea. Born in Seoul in 1938, Shin spent several years living with his father and stepmother in both Japan and Manchuria. After becoming orphaned at age 15, he returned to its birth city and slowly began plotting a career in rock and roll.

It was in 1957, at the spring variety show at the 8th US Army base in Seoul, that Shin Joong Hyun gave his first public performance. The 19-year-old had lived through Japanese rule, the subsequent division of Korea into two warring states, and the US police action that followed. The Harmony guitar he strummed had been paid for by many hours toil at a relative’s pharmaceutical factory! At the variety show, as girl dancers gyrated for the entertainment of American GLS, Shin played standards and showed tunes, a tame material for a boy who worshiped Elvis and Charlie Parker.

Shortly after, he became the first rock star South Korea had ever seen, and its first prominent band, Add 4, was the first native rock band. The following year, Shin cast his first records, covers of Korean pop, beat, and garage. His own tastes remained attuned to the west, however. He pioneered style after style for Korean-speaking audiences, embodying the rebellious rock and roll attitude, too. The year, 1964.

A Young Shin
A Young Shin

Shin: ‘I remember the first time I heard the Beatles. I was mesmerized by their sound: it was blissful. I tried to mimic them with my four-piece, Add 4

AFKN (American Forces Korea Network) had also guided him into psychedelic sounds, then emanating live from the US, such as Jefferson Airplane:

Shin: ‘I mimicked their music, visuals, and sounds without fully understanding what it was. Later, I was playing a psychedelic song and some American hippies – antiwar protesters – came to listen. I became friends with them, and they taught me what psychedelic music really was. They also gave me LSD.’

In 1972, at the height of his career, the South Korean government requested him to pen an ode to (infamous) President Park Chung-Hee and his ruling Republican Party (sic). Shin refused the dictatorship’s request; soon, he was blacklisted within South Korea’s music industry and his songs banned. The final descent happened some years later, arrested for possession of marijuana in 1975, he then was tortured in prison and incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital (check Kim Choo Ja post). (!)

Shin Joong Hyun & The Yup Juns
Shin Joong Hyun & The Yup Juns

Shin: ‘It was all, ‘Let’s work hard’ and ‘Let’s be happy’ kind of stuff. It was completely physical, with no spirit, no mentality, no humanity. That trend has carried over all the way to today. When I was arrested, I was so miserable, had any motivation to continue, that time I really reached rock bottom.’

Let’s go to our record:

Originally recorded in 1974 as a very limited-edition, intended only for radio stations, the record failed to catch fire at its release, Shin’s Korean record label (Jigu Records) dropped it, and the band had to re-cut the whole material. The original version was, until now, almost impossible to find in both the East and the West.

Shin earned renown for his guitar playing, he is only the sixth guitarist in history to earn recognition from the Fender guitar company’s Custom Shop Tribute Series. His performance pushes ahead of the beat and then lags behind it, creating suspense, urgency, and at times, reggae-style upbeat emphasis, in such unique flow!

Yup Juns Promo
Yup Juns Promo

Shin: ‘In the spring of 1974, I named my 3-piece group Shin Joong Hyun & Yupjuns. We got a room at the Tower Hotel and started writing songs. We wanted to write and create a Korean style rock album. It took us six months to write 10 songs and Beautiful Woman was one of them, this song became extremely popular.

In Korean, yupjun literally means a brass coin, however, during that time it was used as slang to describe a sense of unpleasantness and dislike. Since I was so unpleasant and dissatisfied (in my career), I told myself, Ok, fine, I am just a yupjun!’

This is without the slightest doubt its best work, my favorite too, a truly Korean rock masterpiece, with psychedelic, hard, soul and groove influences that permeate the album. Kim Jung Mi’s 1975 Lp has a similar mood, probably Shin’s collaboration too.

Nowadays
Nowadays

The ‘IM’ highlights are: Think, a fuzzy bullet with a swinging pace and short time length, but do not underestimate it, Shin’s voice catches and invites you to sing all along! And The Rising Sun, the only instrumental one, with a very laid back feeling, this improvisation got brilliant guitar solos, sound effects, and an eerie atmosphere.

여행을 떠나요!

Tracks Include:

A1 Beautiful Woman

A2 Think

A3 I Think There Was Someone Else

A4 Long, Long Night

A5 I Love You

B1 Lady

B2 Anticipation

B3 I’ve Got Nothing To Say

B4 I Do Not Know

B5 The Rising Sun (Instrumental)

Release: 1974-08-25

Credits

Vocals, Guitar, Composer, and Arrangements: Shin Joong Hyun

Bass: Lee Nam-Yi

Drums: Kim Ho-Sik

Produced: King Park

Jigu – JLS-120891

Gwangju Uprising
Gwangju Uprising

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!