Listen: “The Man Who Must Leave”.
Originally sung by the Pearl Sisters in 1968, this song roughly translates as “The Man Who Must Leave” and owes everything to the fierce guitarist featured on the intro and outro of his self-penned song. That would be the legendary Shin Jung Hyun, who is commonly referred to as the Godfather of Korean rock n’ roll, and is often compared to Elvis. But that really doesn’t do him justice. Sure, he might have been as popular as Elvis in South Korea. But to put Jung Hyun’s career arc in a context that the Westerner might understand, imagine if Elvis maintained the fire he first displayed on Sam Phillips’ recordings, then morphed into a Dick Dale style surf-guitarist before delving head long into psychedelia, with axe-shredding talents akin to Jimi Hendrix (ok, I’m stretching a bit there) and the song-writing ability of Brian Wilson (ok, I’m stretching again, but not by much). And imagine if he had found the time to write, arrange and produce dozens of protégés who would follow him down whatever crazy path he chose to take them.
This album, like many that Jung Hyun produced, is not about the woman featured on the cover. It would seem like he had a deal with every Korean label that wished to record him: I’ll do whatever you want on the A-side if you give me the B-side to freak out a little something with my homies. Thus, Kim Sun and So Yoon Seok (who dominates the B-side of this album), get the royal treatment and they elevate what would have been a throwaway pop record into the realm of psychedelic goodness.
More on Jung Hyun in later posts. There’s just too much to say about him to put it all into the review of one song. But we’ll put this out there now. Like many Korean records from the late 60s, this record has numerous pressings, all very difficult to differentiate. So be careful if you find a copy for less than you’d expect to pay, as it might be a third (or fifth?) generation reproduction.
Listen: “Funky Broadway (Live).”
Check: Egon’s piece on Shin Jung Hyun on NPR here.
Shin Jung Hyun, commonly referred to as the Godfather of Korean rock n’ roll, is often compared to Elvis. But that really doesn’t do him justice. Sure, he might have been as popular as Elvis in South Korea. But he’s more like the David Axelrod/Brian Wilson/Jimi Hendrix of South Korea. During Seoul’s tumultuous late 60s and early 70s, he had found the time to write, arrange and produce dozens of protégés who would follow him down whatever crazy path he chose to take them
Now-Again, in conjunction with Canadian producer Jason “Moss” Connoy and Indonesian rock legend Benny Soebarjda, will release an anthology that represents an extensive survey into the Indonesian psychedelic and progressive rock scene that flowered in Jakarta in the early 1970s. The release is planned for early 2010 and will include masterpieces by bands such as Golden Wing, pictured above.
Now-Again’s Foray Into Funky Psychedelia: American gospel, paranoiac soul, loner folk, East-Nigerian fuzz, Thai rock, Iranian ballads and more….
This compilation introduces a new direction for Now-Again Records and its owner, Stones Throw Records GM, A&R and producer Egon. With the same detailed, no-stone-unturned approach he used for Deep Funk (The Funky 16 Corners, Cold Heat ), he tackles beat-heavy global psychedelia with Forge Your Own Chains.
Forge Your Own Chains showcases music from all corners of the world: Colombia, Nigeria, Sweden, South Korea, Thailand and Iran. The focus – in keeping with Now-Again’s tradition – is on melody, driving rhythms and accessibility. Not one song is included on this compilation because it is from a “rare” album. Certainly, many of these songs do spring from albums that exchange hands for many thousands of dollars. Certainly, many of these songs have never seen reissue. But these songs are all beautiful in their own right and work to form a coherent album.
Psychedelic records, long the mainstay of older, grizzled collectors and seemingly quaint, are, in the hands of Egon and those of his generation, giving up new ghosts. And, with comps like Forge Your Own Chains, inspiring new investigations into our not so distant (and still very much alive) musical past.
By the early 1970s, Iranian artists such as diva Googoosh, her r&b influenced saxophonist and musical director Erik, sitar-funker Abbas Mehrpouya and the angelic tenor Pourain took the stage. Using indigenous instruments and forms and adding electric guitar as well as other Western influences, these artists set a new standard for Middle Eastern pop music. And so did Kourosh Yaghmaei. But Kourosh was of a different sort.
While the aforementioned artists are giants in their own right, Kourosh stands as the godfather of Persian Rock and Psychedelia. Alongside his brothers, the guitarist Kamran and the keyboardist Kambiz, the trio created vocal and musical stylings that bear a striking resemblance to Turkish fuzz-guitar god Erkin Koray. But their tales – such as “Hajme Kahali,” a meditation on loneliness, are uniquely Iranian.
Kourosh’s 7” singles are exceedingly rare. They are all masterful in their cross-cultural melding but they – alongside music Kourosh recorded in the mid-to-late 70s but never officially released – have languished since the Revolution, and are unheard of by those outside of the immediate Iranian diaspora. We at Now-Again Records, alongside Kourosh and his son Kaveh, have corrected this glaring inaccuracy in the world of Psychedelic Funk and Rock music with the Back From The Brink anthology, which we released in August 2011.