Album Review

Hyun, Shin Joong – “Beautiful Rivers and Mountains” – [Light in the Attic]

surferrosa   11/29/2011   12-inch, A Library

Shin Joong Hyun is South Korea’s godfather of rock and roll, bringing psychedelic sounds formerly foreign to the Korean mainstream. Shin is a guitarist and composer. The pieces contained here are a collection of his solo works and collaborations with vocalists and bands from 1958-1974. Personal commentary from Shin on each track is included in the liner notes. Shin was first and foremost a musician and stressed the importance of not only the vocals but especially the music itself. Shin likes to jam. He likes to improvise, and you can hear it all over these recordings. He took his musicianship seriously, the guitar sings on all these tracks. The music here is incredibly artful, full of soul and never takes the backseat. Vocals are expressive, powerful and share the spotlight with clean guitar work and some super savvy organ sounds, along with all sorts of various instrumentation which elevates these compositions. Sides A and C are my favorites. A kicks in with some bluesy, surfy, 60s sounds. C starts off with 15 minutes of epic improvised blues jam trading off solos with guitar, organ and drums and continues to deliver solid awesome on the other two tracks. B contains 70s style Korean pop-rock ballads. This is really a great collection of Shin’s works, showing his various styling and impeccable musical ability. Mr.Shin never made it big outside of Korea and his music was certainly not embraced (much of it was banned or destroyed) by the South Korean dictatorship in power in the mid 70s. It is interesting to note that In 1975 Shin was arrested, tortured by government officials and sent to a mental institution for possession of marijuana. -Surfer Rosa

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