Friday, August 22, 2008

Digging in the Historical Records

So I recently picked up an unpleasant habit... potentially more dangerous than drugs, more costly than gambling, more insidious than drinking. I bought a turntable. Worse -- I started buying old records.

Over the past couple of years on this blog, I have written about classic Korean rock music a few times. There is a lot of music from the 1960s and 1970s in Korea that I really enjoy. However, not a whole lot of music from that period has been reissued on CD. Yes, a lot of the biggest names are available on CD, especially from the Shin Joong-hyun family, but there was a heck of a lot of other stuff that never made it to CD.

Then one day, I was strolling through Hoehyeon Underground Mall, near Myeongdong, when I noticed all the used record stores there. I mean, of course I have seen them before, but I never really paid much attention to them. Why would I? But one this one occasion, I decided to ask about old Korean rock and pop music.

What a happy discovery that was. Plenty of interesting stuff to be had. Sure, if you want to buy mint-condition Shin Joong-hyun, you are going to pay a lot of money. But if you go off the beaten track and try out some less famous artists, the prices are not nearly as bad.

I think my best find as far has been The Trippers. Not as psychedelic as I might like, but not bad. Plus hearing a 1971 Korean version of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is just too cool (RIP Isaac Hayes).

The Bunny Sisters seem to have not aged well, as wherever I went, there was plenty of their albums for pretty cheap. Sure, they are a little saccharine, but not a bad addition.

I also managed to find a He5 album. Granted, it was not in good condition (hence, I could afford it), but it still feels good to have a big album like that.

Very interesting (and more expensive) was '71 King Hit Album, a compilation featuring songs by Kim Choo-ja, Kim Sang-hee, the Pearl Sisters and a whole bunch of other female singers.

And then there was the totally random. I also picked up some early Lee Soo-man albums, if only to get a sense of the man who would create SM Entertainment and the biggest pop music hit machine in Korea.

Once upon a time, the Daelim Sangga, running down Jongno 4-ga to Toegyero 4-ga, used to be the best place in Korea for old records. Sadly, those days are gone. I know because I took some bad advice and looked all over those concrete bunkers looking for old records. Plenty of people selling old turntables and stereo equipment, but only one person selling old records that I could find (and he was mostly selling old Journey and Judas Priest era albums).

Most of those old shops have moved, either to the Hoehyeon underground shopping arcade, or else to the Yongsan Jeonja Land mall, second floor. A great way to waste some time and money.

Anyhow, I don't mean to bore anyone. But it is rather fun and interesting to have a whole new part of Korea to dive into. Hopefully I will not go overboard.

1 comment:

jenny said...
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