Jang Hyun & The Men "Woman Of The Evening Sun" 1972 Korean Psychedelic masterpiece…!!
This LP is something of a classic as far as Korean Psychedelic Rock goes. Shin Jung Hyun is the guitarist and writer and he is a pretty legendary figure in Korean Rock music. Side A features a number of shorter, more commercial styled songs with Shin Jung Hyun’s band The Men behind featured vocalist Jang Hyun. The first track on Side A is called Twilight and was recently comped by Now-Again on their Forge Your Own Chains international Psych compilation. Side B features two longer tracks performed by Shin Jung Hyun’s band The Men. The first is a long psych/rock burner called Beautiful Rivers & Mountains. The legend has it that Park Jung Hee (the president of Korea’s Military regime at the time) wanted Shin Jung Hyun to compose a song in praise of the President, Regime & the Blue House (presidential house). Shin Jung Hyun protested and came back with a song about the landcsape of Korea and for this protest he was jailed for a time. The second song on Side B is a slow number called The Lawn which is apparently a thinly veiled ode to Marijuana use, pretty heady stuff for early 70s Korea and a really solid listen from start to finish. …….
This album is a great treasure of Korean classic rock. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it seems like Shin Jung Hyeon (often misspelled “Hyun”) made all the music in Korea for a period of time. This album is decidedly moody and maybe one of the more subdued albums he ever did to my knowledge. It’s really heavy on the cheesy organ sounds and there’s an oboe on like every song. The opening song “The Evening Sun” sets the tone for the whole album and if you don’t like that song then forget it. My personal favorite song on the album is “Sound of Mind/마음의 소리,” but the album is mostly known for the song right after it “Beautiful Rivers Beautiful Mountains/아름다운 강산.”(Check out the Kim Jung Mi album to hear a shorter but more fun version of the song)
The comically evil president/dictator of the time, Park Chung Hee, asked Shin to write a song praising the administration and instead he wrote a 10 minute long song about the natural beauty of Korea and it also happens to be a love song (Link to lyrics). Supposedly, this confounded/angered his lordship and that’s when the government of Park Chung Hee essentially killed Rock and Roll in Korea. Rock still existed and Shin continued making albums, but the government started putting pressure on him and banning some of his songs, as they were not in line with the sensibilities of the mighty leader. Shin was also arrested in 1975 for smoking pot or something (duh. have you listened to this stuff?). There were other rock bands that took up the mantle, but it was still a huge blow to the scene and the Park administration encouraged the writing of nationalist songs and discouraged things that could possibly corrupt the youth, etc…and now we have K-pop! So yeah, I kind of hate Park Chung Hee, in case you didn’t notice that most of this album review is about what a bad guy he was. Anyway, here’s the album, which I believe to be a vinyl rip. It still sounds great though…….
Shin Joong Hyun’s tale is personal, spiritual, and deep, not only reflecting the full spectrum of human emotions, but one that produced reverberating echoes of sound, some beautiful and life-giving, others restless and ungovernable. For the first time outside of Korea, Shin’s music will be readily available to music lovers the world over.Light In The Attic are thrilled to release Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun, a career spanning CD, 2xLP, and Digital Download compilation of the diminutive guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger, and talent developer.
Inspired by jazz, soul, and traditional Korean music, Shin started his career in the mid-1950’s, performing for US troops stationed locally after the Korean War armistice of 1953. While his English language skills were limited, the young player had no trouble communicating through his trusty electric guitar, but Shin was no mere 6-string slinger for hire, he was able to communicate something far beyond your average professional musician. Production work and extensive songwriting followed, not to mention a steady stream of electrifying performances. Gaining momentum by the moment, Shin developed popular success across South Korea molding protégés like singing duo the Pearl Sisters and folk-psych songbird Kim Jung Mi into top pop stars. From there it was hit after hit. The late 1960’s rock explosion and an influx of imported music from The Beatles, Jimmy Smith, and The Jefferson Airplane all informed and inspired Mr. Shin to elevate his own craft. Even experimental trips via a crew of local hippies also took the music man to new heights despite Korean law forbidding such rebellion. Drug use was illegal and punishable as a serious offence. Park Chung-hee, then President of South Korea began to closely monitor Shin’s “subversive” activities. After refusing to write a song in praise of the political leader, the musician was labeled unpatriotic and his career was instantly snuffed-out through a series of surveillance, torture, and institutional confinement.
While this was not the end of Shin’s musical story, for an all-too-brief moment in Korean cultural history, Shin Joong Hyun and his talented accomplices laid down a trove of recordings that have slowly reverberated far from their native land.Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun features Korean/English lyric translations, unseen pictures, beautiful graphic design from Strath Shepard (Pacific Standard), fully restored and re-mastered audio by Timothy Stollenwerk (Stereophonic) extensive liner notes byKevin “Sipreano” Howes (Jamaica-Toronto series, Rodriguez, Monks, Mowest comp) and Shin Joong Hyun himself. With loving attention to detail and Shin’s full blessing, we trust you’ll find this album as addictive as a bottle of your favorite Korean soju. So let’s raise a toast to Shin and his musical life! As they say in Seoul, “Gun Bae!!!”…..