Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Shin Joong-hyun discography, 1958-1975

Shin Joong-hyun (신중현) is considered one of the most influential songwriters and guitarists in the history of South Korean popular music. He got his start playing guitar on the 미군무대, or US Eighth Army stage, in 1957, recorded an album a year later, and started one of the first Korean rock bands, the Add 4, but had no success with Korean audiences. He considered going to work as a musician for ROK troops in Vietnam, but was convinced to record an album for two teenage sisters known as the Pearl Sisters, and the album, which was released in late 1968 and featured a mix of psychedelia and soul music, was a huge hit. Shin formed a number of bands in sequence over the years - the Donkeys, the Questions, his Combo Band, the Golden Grapes, the Men, and the Yupjuns - and with them he played guitar and performed the songs he wrote while working with a variety of singers. He wore many hats as guitarist, songwriter, bandleader, and talent scout and scored numerous top ten hits, particularly at the height of his career between 1969 and 1975, but also into the 1980s. A crackdown by the increasingly authoritarian Yusin government (1972-79) on popular music in 1975 led to him being banned from performing or recording from 1976 to 1979. 

One problem that exists is that most of Shin's albums are out of print, or only available on vinyl reissues (but not on cd). The 9-cd Shin Joong-hyun Anthology Box Set, released in 2006, has 90 songs on it, but that only scratches the surface of his musical output.

Below is a project I've worked on in fits and starts throughout this year (and in fact, I sort of started it seven years ago): descriptions of and LP covers for all of the albums Shin released between 1958 and 1975 (49 of them!), with most of them having links to the albums on youtube. Those available on cd are noted.

While it's not always 100% reliable, the website maniadb was incredibly helpful, and gratitude must be given to two youtube accounts in particular - 집고양이 and yungyeal bae - for uploading so many of the albums in question. 

 
(1958) 히키 신  (Hiky Shin) (Domido Records)
Stars and Stripes article from 1963 refers to guitarist Jackie Shin, so perhaps "Hiky" is related to this. Different sources say this instrumental album was released in 1958 or 1959. This album has been released on CD and can be listened to here. (Be sure to check out "Twist Arirang").

(1964) The Add 4 First Album (LKL Records)
Both the Add 4, the group founded by Shin with Seo Jeong-gil on vocals and guitar, Han Yeong-hyeon on bass, and Gwon Sun-gwon on drums, and the Key Boys released LPs in 1964, though neither were popular since they were released about four years too early. This has been released on CD and can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2. Songs like 비속의 여인 and 커피 한 잔 can be found in their original forms on this LP. 


A collection of songs arranged by Shin Joong-hyun (some originals and many covers) and sung by Song Man-su, who would go to Vietnam as an entertainer for ROK troops in 1966 and later sing with Shin's band The Questions. More information about the LP is here, and it can be listened to here.



A collection of surf-rock-ish instrumentals arranged by Shin Joong-hyun, it describes the Add 4 as "Korea's Ventures". This LP was also released by another label that year with a different title. It is no longer available online in its entirety, but two songs, 밤안개 (It’s Lonesome Old Town) and 아 마다 미여 (A Mada Mio), can be heard here.






(1968) Add 4 - 즐거운 기타 투위스트 (Shin Hyang Records)
The date is estimated for this record. Add 4 apparently broke up in 1966, and after that Shin formed the short-lived band Jokers and then Blooz Tet. This record likely contains songs from the latter band, and perhaps some Add 4 songs as well. Side 1 can be listened to here.

According to this site, Blooz Tet were Shin on guitar; Lee Tae-hyeon, bass; Han Yeong-hyeon, bass; Jo Gap-chul, drums; Gwon Sun-saeng, rhythm guitar

(1968.12) Pearl Sisters - 님아! (Shin Hyang Records)
Shin Joong-hyun scored his first hit with this "Soul Sound Album" by the Pearl Sisters, which was recorded with a new band, The Donkeys, who would record with him for the next couple years. Sisters Bae In-soon and Bae In-sook had experience performing on the US 8th Army stage and had also performed on television. According to this account, Shin was planning to leave Korea to play in Vietnam, so the teens asked him to record their debut album. The song 님아 was a huge hit in 1969, and both Shin and the Pearl Sisters became sought-after performers. Two LPs were released around this time; The songs on Side 1 are the same as the album below, while side 2 features instrumentals.

The Donkeys were Shin on guitar; Oh Deok-gi, rhythm guitar; Lee Tae-hyeon, bass*; Kim Ho-sik, drums; Kim Min-rang, organ.

(1968) Pearl Sisters 특선집 (Shin Hyang Records)
This album may have been released around the same time as 님아! Side one features the same songs, while side 2 features mostly covers, including of Scott McKenzie’s ‘If You Are Going To San Francisco,’ the Box Tops’ ‘Cry Like a Baby,’ Smoky Robinson and the Miracles’ ‘I Second that Emotion,’ the Temptations’ ‘Get Ready,’ and the Beatles’ ‘Yesterday.’ It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.  

(1969.1.17) 이정화 - 싫어 / 봅비 (Shin Hyang Records)
Shin and the Donkeys recorded this Doors-influenced psychedelic album with singer Lee Jeong-hwa in 1968. This is the first Shin album to have longer songs on it, including, on side 2, an amazing 15-minute psychedelic version of 마음, and also includes the Supremes-esque 싫어. (Shin Joong-hyun stands out at this time for his ability to produce songs that are reminiscent of certain bands, but that are original, and not covers). It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.






(1969.05) 이정화 - 봄비 (Shin Hyang Records)
A second album by Lee Jeong-hwa with the Donkeys featuring different versions of songs from her previous album. This record was reviewed in the June 1, 1969 issue of Sunday Seoul, hence my guess of May 1969 as the release date. It can be listened to here: Side 1Side 2.





(1969.05) 푸른사과 OST (Shin Hyang Records)
Shin did the soundtrack to the film "Green Apple," about a girl who explores the current music scene; the film and soundtrack feature performances by Jo Yeong-nam, Choi Yeong-hui, and Twin Folio. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any copies of the film remaining. The LP's release date is not clear, but the film was released in May 1969. Songs range from pop to others with more psychedelic stylings. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

(1969.07.02) Kim Chu-ja - 늦기 전에 (Sung Eum Records)
Kim Chu-ja's first LP, backed by the Donkeys. Side 1 features five songs by Kim Chu-ja, while side 2 features Kim Seon (singing in particular on a longer psychedelic / soul version of 떠나야할 그 사람) and So Yun-seok. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

(1969.07) 김상희 최신가요 힛퍼레이드 (Shin Hyang Records)
This seems to be Kim Sang-hui's first full record (of a long career), done in a pop style. 어떻게 해 was something of a hit but, according to this blog, it was interpreted by listeners in a sexual way, and in September 1969 a broadcasting screening committee banned it from radio and TV for its "vulgar singing style". The album can be listened to here. Some of these songs also appeared on a Kim Sang-hui 'best of' album in 1970.



(1970.03.16) 김상희 리싸이틀쇼 (Universal Records)
If the date above is correct, this live record by Kim Sang-hui is the first album to feature Shin's new band, the Questions, on side B. Reviews here and here praise the psychedelic nature of their performances, including an eight-minute version of 어떻게 해. Unfortunately, this is a rare album and seems not to be online.


(1970.05.01) 신중현과 퀘션스 - 그대는 바보 (Universal Records)
The first full album by Shin's new band, the Questions, features various singers. In particular, this features Park In-su's version of 봄비, which gradually builds until he's wailing over the 'Hey Jude'-like anthemic finale. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

The Questions were Shin Joong-hyun on guitar; Lee Tae-hyeon, bass*; Kim Dae Hwan, drums; Kim Min-rang, organ*, with vocals by Park In-su (who grew up in the US) and Song Man-su (who did the 1965 'From Vietnam' LP with Shin). This LP also features vocals by Lim Hui-suk and Lim Seong-hun.

(1970.05.30) 신중현 경음악 제3집 (Sung Eum Records) 
Other than the track listing, there seems to be no trace of this online (and it may have been released in 1969).

(1970.07.25) 신중현의 In-A-Kadda-Da-Vida (Universal Records)
The only full live recording of Shin's from the 1960s or 1970s, it features the Questions, and photos on the back cover with "GoGo Gala Party" hanging above the stage suggest this was recorded at the concert series of the same name which took place at Seoul Citizens' Hall between April 17 and 19, 1970. It features songs sung by Kim Chu-ja, Song Man-su, and Park In-su (including 'Funky Broadway'), as well as a 15-minute version of 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.' It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.
(1970) 신중현 힛트 경음악 1집 (Universal Records)

The person who posted three tracks from this instrumental collection (here) says this was recorded with the Questions, but there's so little information about this it's hard to know for sure.
  

(1970.11장현 - 기다려주오 (Universal Records)
Jang Hyun's first album, the first of his many memorable collaborations with Shin Joong-hyun. Jang's songs are mostly on Side 1, and while this album is not online, the songs can be found in a greatest hits collection by Jang here. This could be the first record by Shin's new "Combo Band," a 12-member orchestra he formed in the fall of 1970 with saxaphonist / songwriter Jeong Seong-jo (정성조) which sees horns take prominence in the songs. Or it might not be.
(1970.11.10) 펄 씨스터스 - (속) 님아!! (Universal Records)
Two years after their first hits with Shin Joong-hyun, the Pearl Sisters reunite with him (for side 1, at least). The not-all-that-inspiring "sequel" to their first hit song, 님아, can be found here, their version of 기다리겠오 (previously sung by Park In-su), here, and their version of 싫어, which became a top 10 hit, is here.


Lim A-yeong's first album, which was recorded with Shin and his Combo Band, with horns being very prominent. I believe this is the first recording of 미련, one of Shin's most memorable songs, and perhaps the first of 마른 잎 as well. Lim's songs are only on Side 1, which is here, while the songs on Side 2 are also on the 1970.05 Questions record above. She also appears with Jang Hyun on this 'hits' collection in 1971.

(1971.02.17) 김추자의 마부  
Shin Joong-hyun's soundtrack to the 1971 television drama "Coachman" (based on the 1961 film of the same name) features a number of songs by Kim Chu-ja, including her standout version of 꽃잎 (listen here). I suspect the Combo Band was involved with a this record but can't be sure.
The previous November this Kim Chu-ja album had also featured two Shin songs, including the hit 님은 먼곳에 (listen here).
The '71 King Hit Album is a compilation that features mostly older material, much of it by Shin Joong-hyun, plus one new song: Kim Chu-ja’s 거짓말이야, which can be listened to here
(1971) 신중현 SOUND (Prince Records)
This is the first of three '신중현 SOUND' records on Prince Records, and features the debut of the 16-year-old twins Bunny Girls on two songs, including the trippy 우주여행, as well as songs by singers Min-a and Ju-hyeon. The record was recorded by Shin and his Combo Band. More information about the album (including photos of the singers) is here, while the record can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.


Side one of this album features not only Kim Jung-mi, whose style of singing and voice Shin thought best captured how he envisioned his songs, but also features the debut of Shin's new backing band, the Golden Grapes. According to this site, Shin organized them from a group of young orphans (some of whom were said to be mixed-race), particularly Ham Jung-a and Ham Jeong-pil, and they had a harder edged sound than his other bands. The album can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.
  
This is the only full album the Golden Grapes did with them as the main focus; it is also the last album they made as a group before abruptly splintering. Helped along by a cavernous bongo sound, side one features a rawer sound than Shin's other records, while side two features an extended, bluesy guitar solo by Shin. This is arguably one of Shin's best records, but is not available in full online anywhere... unless you look here.


(1972?) 신중현(SOUL RHYTHM PARADE) 오아시스 히트송 경음악 제3집 (Oasis)
I have my doubts that Shin had anything to do with this muzak-y album of instrumental versions of his songs released by Oasis Records; online record shops list its release date as 1972. It can be listened to in full here.

This is both Kim Jung-mi's first full album and (I'm pretty sure) the first album by Shin and his new band, The Men. 간다고 하지마오 was a popular song (here she is singing it live in 1975), but nothing quite grooves like 못잊어. The album can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

The Men featured Shin on guitar, Son Hak-rae on oboe, Lee Tae-hyeon* on bass, Kim Gi-pyo on Organ, Park Gwang-su on vocals, and Mun Yeong-bae on drums. They presided over what is arguably Shin's most creative, and certainly his most prolific, period. In less than a year and a half, Shin and the Men released (or contributed to half of) 12 albums, or about 90 songs.

(1972.10.29) 장현 and The Men (Universal)
This is considered one of Shin's best albums, and I'd put in my top 3. Side one brings back Jang Hyun singing five songs which feature The Men's sound refined into a lush and yet still minimal sound mixing Shin's jangling guitar, bass forward in the mix, and organ and oboe adding atmosphere. 미련 ('Lingering affection') is lyrically one of Shin's most memorable songs, and this is arguably the best version, which topped the charts in May and June 1973. Side 2 has The Men doing longer psychedelic songs, which became standard on many of Shin and the Men's LPs during this period (featured singer on side 1, psychedelic experimentation on side 2). The last song is 잔디, or 'Grass' (ahem), but the standout song is the original 10-minute version of 아름다운 강산 (literally 'beautiful rivers and mountains,' but would better translate as "The beautiful land," one of Shin's best songs, which in this version ends with five minutes of Shin's wah-wah guitar dueling with organ and oboe. It can be listened to here.

This instrumental album, “Temptation of Saxophone,” features instrumentals of Shin's previous hits performed by The Men with saxophone replacing the vocals. The album can be listened to here.

(1972.12) 장현 히트앨범 (Universal) 
Shin must have liked working with Jang Hyun; only a month or so after 'Jang Hyun and The Men,' this full album of songs featuring his singing was released, and both 마른잎 and 나는 너를 were top 10 hits. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.


Seo Yu-seok was one of the early folk singers in Korea, and for this album Shin recorded one side of the album accompanied by lush strings. That side can be hear here.

Side 2 of this album also features what may be the first recording of Jo Dong-jin's song '다시 부르는 노래' ('The song that is sung again'), here named '마지막 노래,' though the beauty of it was likely best captured by Hyeon-gyeong and Yeong-ae in 1977.
(1973.05.04) 윤용균 - 내곁에 있어주오 (Universal) 
Side one features psychedelic pop songs by Shin and The Men with Yun Yong-gyun, a blind singer, on vocals. Unfortunately, this is the only album he made; information about him (in Korean) can be found here. Side two features The Men at their most experimental, doing a 22-minute (!) version of '거짓말이야' ('It's a lie') that makes me wonder if they had been listening to Can and Neu! records. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

(1973.05.25) 차현아 (Universal)
Side one features Cha Hyeon-a, with the final song, '왜 못잊을까,' being a peppy standout. Side two ends with a re-release of  '아름다운 강산' but also contains two excellent tracks sung by Kim Seong-cheol and featuring The Men in top psychedelic form. Their version of '마음,' previously recorded twice by Lee Jeong-hwa in 1968, is one of Shin's more overlooked recordings. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.
(1973.05.25)  박광수 - 마른잎/ 빗속의 여인 (Universal)
Park Gwang-su was the vocalist for The Men, who back him as he performs his own versions of several of Shin's previous hits. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

The debut album by Jiyeon, with songs performed by The Men. Side one, with Jiyeon singing, has some good songs, but side two is most interesting. It opens with 그리운 그 님아, a funky, stripped down song featuring Shin Joong-hyun on vocals for the first time, and is basically the blueprint for the sound of his next band, the Yeopjeons. 안개속의 여인, on the other hand, is an 11+ minute psychedelic take on that song that is unlike anything else The Men did, and is well worth a listen. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

(1973.06.25) 김정미 2집 - 신중현작품집 : 아니야 / 간다고 하지 마오 (Universal)
This is essentially 'best of'  album compiled from Kim Jeong-mi's previous two releases. It can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.




(1973) Yang Hee Eun (Universal)
Side one of this album features songs by Shin Joong-hyun, a number of which were previously recorded by Kim Jeong-mi. I assume these songs were recorded with The Men, though I'm not certain of this.  Side one can be listened to here.  

This LP also featured on side 2 her cover of Hahn Dae-soo's 행복의 나라, the popularity of which convinced folks he should record an LP once he got out of the navy in 1974.
(1973.11.02) 김정미 - 바람 (Universal) 
On the same day in November 1973, Kim Jeong-mi's masterpieces "Baram" (wind) and "Now" were released. They share 8 songs; only two on each are different. 

According to the Weekly Hankook’s charts, in December 1973 the song “Baram” entered the top ten, peaked at number four February 17, left the top ten after March 10, reappeared at number ten April 21, climbed back to number four on June 30, and last appeared in the top ten July 14 – a total of 27 weeks, or 6 months (!) in the top ten.
 
"Baram" can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2.

(1973.11.02) 김정미 - NOW (Sung Eum) 
"NOW" arguably has the better of the two different songs ("봄" in particular), but it's a tough call. "Now" can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2. It was available on CD years ago, but may be out of print now.

I assume from the sound that Shin was accompanied by The Men for these sessions. If this is the case, it may have been their last recordings with Shin. He would soon start a new band, and most of The Men would join ex-He-6 vocalist Choi Heon to form 검은 나비 in 1974.

In early 1974 Shin formed the 엽전들, or 'brass coins,' with Shin on guitar and vocals, Lee Nam-i on bass, and Kim Ho-sik on drums (Kim had been the drummer for the Donkeys 5 years earlier). Their first recordings, which include the classic "Miin" (beautiful one), did away with the Men's lush sound for something more stripped down and funky, but also incorporated acoustic guitar into the rhythm section in unique ways. It's an excellent album, but test pressings didn't make a big splash, so Shin's new (major) label, Jigu, demanded they make more of a rock album. 
The original version can be listened to here: Side 1 ; Side 2 (though it was available on CD awhile ago).
(1974.07.20) 김명희 - 그대를 사랑해 (Jigu)
This LP features four songs by Kim Myeong-hui, including the 11-minute, slow-building 먼 옛날, and was most certainly recorded by Shin's new band, the 엽전들. The rest of the album is by various artists and it's not clear if Shin was involved with those songs. Kim's songs can be heard here.
(1974.08.25) 신중현과 엽전들 1집 (Jigu)
Shin rerecorded the first Yupjuns album and cranked up the electric guitar, doing away with the more unique acoustic guitar parts from the first recording. He also added He6's amazing drummer Gwon Yong-nam to the roster. 

It seems the rerecording paid off - 'Miin' was a massive hit. The charts in the weeklies are spotty and contradictory, but it spent about 15 weeks in the top ten, including around five weeks at number one. The album can be listened to here, though this is easily available on CD.

Shin's last recording with Kim Jung-mi is this LP, an omnibus album with Kim Jung-mi singing six of Shin's songs. These songs are more in the stripped-down, funky style of the Yupjuns (I imagine they were the backing band). Her songs can be listened to here.


(1974.11) 장현 - 가버린 사람아/잊어야 한다면 (Jigu)
I've only heard a few songs from this album and am not sure about including it. Still, all but one song are Shin Joong-hyun songs, they're arranged by Son Hak-rae (the member of The Men who played oboe), and the album's version of '마음' includes guitar that is certainly played by Shin Joong-hyun. His participation is certainly possible since this was released by Jigu, Shin's record label at the time.
(1975.06) 엽전들의 경음악 1집 (Jigu)
Shin and the Yupjuns next released a collection of instrumental versions of Shin's earlier hits. Done in the stripped-down Yupjun style, they added Wang Jun-gi on flute to fill out their sound. Their version of "빗속의 여인" can be listened to here, while "님은 먼 곳에" can be listened to here. A very similar version of "빗속의 여인" appears on their unreleased album (see below), so they may have decided to salvage some songs from that LP and release them in instrumental form.
(maniadb states that this was first released in September 1974, but this seems unlikely.)

(1975.07.18) 엽전들의 경음악 2집 (Jigu)
The Yupjuns released a second instrumental album in the same style and with the same members as the first. (Maniadb states that it was first released in September 1974 and re-released in July 1975, but this seems unlikely.) The song 마른 잎 can be listened to here
(1975.10) 신중현과 엽전들 2집 (Jigu)
After the success of 미인, in early 1975 Shin and the Yupjuns set about making a film starring the band, entitled "미인" (a trailer is here), but that song - and a dozen more of Shin's songs - became subject to a government ban in June and July 1975. Maniadb says it was recorded August 16-26, 1975, and then on August 27, it was reported that Shin had announced they would stop dressing like 'beggars' and play 'healthy' songs from then on out, which likely influenced the 건전가요 ('healthy songs') nature of the album. At any rate, on the cover they seem to be mocking these regulations, standing at attention in suits in front of a palace. One song from the album, the patriotic "뭉치자 / Let's Unite," can be heard here. It's available on CD. (maniadb states that there are two different recordings of this album, but a review of the album in the 1975.10.19 issue of 주간여성 makes no mention of this.) 

Shin is credited with being one of the people behind the music for this Shin Sang-ok film about a musical trio of sisters trying to matchmake for their widowed mother. The track listing suggests Shin and the Yup Juns performed only two tracks on the LP (likely instrumentals). There are no audio samples of the LP online.


신중현과 엽전들 - Unreleased LP (1975)
It's not really clear if this was supposed to follow their first album or second album, but this blog states that it was recorded in May 1975, which would suggest that they recorded it just as Emergency Measure 9 came into effect, and the ensuing song bans may have convinced them to record a different, 'healthier' album instead. The second album they released was quite disappointing, but this - which was likely supposed to be the second album - is one of Shin's best albums. Double tracked guitars, one at each side of the stereo spectrum, create a fuller sound, there's some truly psychedelic guitar work on display (particularly on the 11-minute droning version of 선녀), and Shin's singing is far better than on the other Yupjun albums. This really is a testament to the creativity of Korea's music scene at that time, and their disappointing second album goes to show how this was suppressed by the dictatorship. The album can be listened to here.

Song bans were announced throughout the second half of 1975, but what really brought the music scene in Korea to its knees was the sudden decision by the government to start enforcing the Habit-Forming Drug Control Law that had been on the books since 1970 but generally only enforced around US bases. Shin is the best-remembered victim of the crackdown on Marijuana that began in late November 1975 - one which saw around 75 musicians, entertainers, and artists arrested - but also victimized was the emerging experimental folk-rock scene led by Lee Jang-hui and particularly his backing band, 동방의빛 (Light of the East), who played on 30+ albums between 1973 and 1975 (even, I'd argue, inventing synth pop). The greatest offenders (in the government's eyes), including Shin and Light of the East guitarist Gang Geun-sik, were given lifetime bans on performing and airplay. This ban ended up lasting only for Park Chung-hee's lifetime, but by the time it was lifted in 1980, musical tastes had changed. Shin continued to perform in various rock bands, and also wrote and recorded songs (even synth-pop songs) for a variety of pop musicians, but for me his recordings before 1976 are the most interesting, and hopefully the above links will make it easier to discover his music. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

1945 view of Seoul and video about the remaining traces of Seoul's Shinto Shrines

I was made aware of this video by John Grisafi about the remaining traces of colonial-era Shinto Shrines in Seoul (hat tip to Jacco). I learned some new things from it, and it features some handy maps as well. 


Also of interest may be this photo taken by Don O'Brien in the fall of 1945, which appears to be taken from Namsan in the area of Seoul (Gyeongseong) Shinto Shrine (perhaps somewhere around here). I made this image to point out some of the prominent buildings. There is black text for those buildings still standing, red text for those that have been demolished, and blue text for sites that still serve the same purpose but have new buildings.