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V.A.: C'est Si Bon's Friends 70-80

"A Picnic with C'est Si Bon Friends"

“C’est Si Bon” is the name of a music cafe that was located in Myeong. Its members played a key role in introducing Korean pop music to the country. During the 80s were able to survive some groups and performers in the folk area, with certain honesty and with little acoustic arrangements, still allowed the stage song business, with full orchestras, they still showed a few very powerful voices in this area. The new folk singers weren’t as talented as the old names but we still have things that are worthy of notice. At the same time a commercialisation of pop music was happening too. Two rock group still emerged and can be heard on the compilation too.

Just recently a movie was made about the club, which made a story around the group Twin Folio, which can’t be heard on this compilation. At the same time a book was published telling the real story from some other singers. While the movie might refer to aspects of competition, the book makes us believe it is about patience and friendship, and referred to an era where musicians could perform creative songs and finding an allowed room to do so. The club had worked as a community, a reference of notice, which you can hear in the last CD here and then by some more powerful cooperative bigger group stage performances. Above all, what they preferred to stimulate at that time most was a kind of (western styled but independent as inspiration) folk (and folk-rock) revival, a goal that had been achieved in certain moments in time, or in certain performances.

The first CD shows the further commercialisation of pop songs and songwriting, and continuation of a bit more schlager-like Trot music too during the 80s via new names mostly. Listed is also one commercial schlager cover version of the hit “Delilah.” From this first CD not much is worth discovering. However, two classic pop songs are added which can be found on many other compilations, a track by Lee Jang Hee (4) and by Song Chang Sik (7). Still ok amongst lesser products is the track by Sunflower (11), showing a folkier pop side and of course the track by the April & May duo, a still good folkier or melancholic song with piano, strummed guitars simple overdubbed and harmony singing. Perhaps worthy of mention because it is so different in style is the track by Lee, Jae-Min (6) even though it is rather a cheap karaoke kind of disco pop commercial pop track it is performed with with synths and drum box only and shows how much things has changed and could have meant something new and expressive without really being successful or such a convincing change.

After still a few commercial contexts, most of the second CD shows the folkier side of songwriting, a more honest and direct style with most attraction. Let me point out the highlights. The first outstanding track is a softly sung song accompanied by a few layers of arrangements by moody pop instrumental analogue synths and synths and bass, soft drums only by Baetaragi (4). Further we have good folky songwriting song (guitar, voice, synths, bass) by Siinkwa Chonjang (5), and in this direction, Lee Pil-Won with a classic song accompanied by acoustic guitars, to be found on other compilations too (7). Jo Dong-Jin sings a song with melancholic picking, beautiful male voice, the use of organ and backing female vocalists, the addition of some strings, this goes into the direction of Leonard Cohen (12). And further we also have the convincing voice of Chang Eun-Ha with a sad folky singer/songwriter contribution, also with guitar picking only. A few more songs are in the same vein but not as good as these. A bit more into more commercial arrangements, but still honest as expression is the folk pop song by Yun, Joung-A (guitars/bass/drum and lush strings) revealing a very good folk voice (8). Also the contribution of Han, Kyung-Ae show such folk voice qualities. The song itself has arrangements of lush strings and is a bit more commercial but with the full quality of voice and harmony singing to it.

The third CD introduces a bit more often to the group performances. There are two rock groups involved, which were some of the better and more progressive bands of the 80s, like Runway (2) and Sand Pebbles (4), but with rather soft voice, but with rock band and use of organ.

There are also some performances with full orchestra (brass and strings) (1,8,13), of which the track by Bak Gwang Ju / Choe Hyeg Yeong (13) shows a “big” sound as well as a strong lead voice and use of responding voices. The most powerful track of this kind still is the very powerful emotionally rocking voice by Noh Sa-Yoen while the arrangements feature strings/brass, bass, and so on. I know this track from another compilation. It definitely is a powerful classic.

Seolmoole's track with acoustic guitar and violin solo intro, not only shows a full orchestra to add power, but also crafty harmony vocals, performed with very vivid arrangements, like a crafty boys choir while playing acoustic rhythms, with lots of changes, lead vocal parts and vocal responding parts. I also know this classic already from another compilation (14). On The 15th pop/folk/rock rock it are the female vocal harmonies that is worthy of mention. The last track shows not only singers but also many musicians on stage, a good feeling which probably reveals something of the celebrative possibilities of the club when all hands join their music performance together.

Different from this approach we have a worthy track by Jeong O-Cha. The track starts with an intro on flamenco guitar, reveals a very good lead voice slowly building up emotion in the song, then suddenly adding a more commercial part with drum box, bass acoustic guitar and synth, this remains a very good track (3). We also have an ok poprocker by Yankees with drum, bass brass strings synths and soft vocals (9). Better is Lee Myung-Hoon’s track, arranged like a fine rocker with lead guitar synth drum bass soft pop (10). Still an ok pop/rocker is performed by “21” ?? featuring some flute too.

We still find two folkier tracks that are worth taking out, like the Min, Byung-Woo track (5), with dual harmony vocals, a folk track in the direction of Twin Trio or April & Wine. And secondly I need to mention the Choi Hyeon-Goon track (11), with mouth harmonica parts, accompanied by acoustic guitar, a good song with nice open parts for the pickings and harmonica.

"C'est si bon (French for "It's so good") was a legendary, real-life acoustic music lounge in the 1970s located in Mugyo-dong, Seoul.[5] It was very popular with Koreans in their twenties and thirties, who went there to listen to live music performed by some of the most talented young musicians of the era.[6] Among them was the folk music duo Twin Folio composed of Yoon Hyung-joo and Song Chang-sik; this film depicts the band's beginnings while including a fictional third member, Oh Geun-tae."

Plot : "In the late 1960s, C'est si bon was the music lounge every unknown acoustic band dreamed of playing, and where Korea's leading folk musicians were born. It is where Geun-tae, a naïve country boy, meets musical prodigies and rivals Hyung-joo and Chang-sik. Together they form a band and name themselves after the iconic venue — the C'est si bon Trio. As the three young musicians bicker over their music, beautiful socialite Ja-young enters the picture and becomes their muse, launching a series of moving love songs. Ja-young falls for the pure-hearted Geun-tae, but they part ways when she accepts a once-in-lifetime shot at an acting career. 20 years later in the 1990s, Geun-tae and Ja-young meet again."

About the book about the club : :

"Cest Si Bon is all about friendship, music"

Singer Cho Young-nam poses with his new book “C’est Si Bon Era”

at a press conference at a Seoul cafe, Tuesday. / Courtesy of Minumin

By Chung Ah-young When elder singers Cho Young-nam, Yoon Hyung-joo, Song Chang-shik and Kim Se-hwan appeared in a special episode of MBC’s variety show “Come and Play” called “C’est Si Bon Concert” last year, no one expected the performance would start a craze for ’60s and ’70s folk music and an acoustic guitar boom. “C’est Si Bon” is the name of a music cafe which was located in Myeong-dong in the 1960s. It was home to numerous big-name singers such as Cho, Yoon, Song, Kim and Lee Jang-hee, Kim Min-gi who sang together there and spent their youth in politically and socially hard times. Their television performance in tune with acoustic guitar sounds immediately captivated the viewers; not only middle-aged fans but also those in their 20s and 30s. The singers presented the nostalgia-provoking folk music, popular back in 1960s and ’70s, and also told warm-hearted stories about their decades-long friendship. Their unfinished stories about the past are told through a new book “C’est Si Bon Era” written by Cho and published by Minumin. “I was surprised at the explosive response from the pubic after the TV show because I didn’t think our music would work in the digital era. We just gathered as usual without practicing but with just spontaneous harmony in the show and I realized the audience was overwhelmed with our music. I think we rekindled hopes that the analogue spirit, long forgotten by the digital era, might come back,” Cho told reporters. The 66-year-old singer explained that his new book is all about the friendships which have been a source of energy to make them continue their music for about 40 years. “The history of C’est Si Bon members cannot be told without mentioning modern Korean history. It was sad because we didn’t have a choice when it came to music at that time. There was only Japanese-style trot and pop music. C’est Si Bon members played a key role in introducing pop music to Korea. Based on numerous remakes of pop songs, we could make our own creative songs. We thought of ourselves as The Beatles,” Cho said. In the book, pop music critic Yim Jin-mo labelled their popularity as “the return of the legend” and wrote hit songs to reflect their youth and nostalgia that cannot be found in these modern times. “At that time, we shared everything at C’est Si Bon. We felt a sort of community spirit among us. If I had 10,000 won, it was not mine, it was ours. The community spirit has enabled us to maintain our friendship, strengthen our bonds and continue to work together,” Yoon said. “These days, people tend to form relationships in accordance with the need for interests. But we didn’t. We have been in a relationship of sharing. I think this kind of relationship might deeply inspire many young people. In that sense, they want to resemble us,” Yoon said. Cho said that through the book, he wants to deliver the message that they have lived fiercely until now. “Life can hold everything. So only when our life is full of love and passion, can good music be produced. This book shows how we lived eagerly,” Cho said. In the book, Cho reveals his friendship and the character of each member including his ex-wife and veteran actress Yoon Yeo-jeong. At first Cho hesitated to tell her story as he has not seen her since they divorced but they seem to be more comfortable speaking about each other these days as she recently spoke about Cho on a television show. He decided to include her story because she was an important member of forming the C’est Si Bon friendship and culture at that time. “I first met her at C’est Si Bon. Without mentioning her, I cannot speak about C’est Si Bon,” Cho said. Concerning young singers in the current K-pop music scene, Cho said that he hopes they remain patient and wait and see what happens. “Sometimes, the timing is not good. Then we should wait for the right timing. It is a pity to see many young stars take their own lives so often. I hope many of them learn more patience.” :

Just imagine if Peter, Paul and Mary started out as a quartet with a dude named Billy Bob singing baritone. That never happened and the Korean folk duo Twin Folio were never part of a trio, but a new behind-the-music drama will suppose they were for the sake of “what if?” Considering most of Twin Folio’s greatest hits were sad love songs, it only stands to reason love played a role in breaking apart their fictional precursor trio in Kim Hyun-suk’s C’est Si Bon (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

In the 1960s, South Korea lagged a bit behind the American Folk Revival, but they tried to make up for lost time in the trendy Mugyo-dong neighborhood. The C’est Si Bon club was like the early Village Vanguard, except it was all folk, no jazz. During the regular amateur nights, Yoon Hyeon-ju and Song Chang-shik regularly battle each other for victory, developing solid fan-bases and a pitched rivalry. Impresario Kim Choon-sik wants to combine their talents to launch his folk label, but wants an easier going third member to act as a buffer between them. His prospective producer-songwriter Lee Jang-hee just happens to cross paths with Oh Geun-tae, a naïve scholarship student from the sticks, with a perfectly complimentary baritone for the envisioned C’est Si Bon Trio.

Initially, Yoon and Song vibe Oh pretty hard, but their voices just fit together. Although they accept him professionally, they all compete for the attention of Min Ja-young, the queen of the C’est Si Bon social scene, who is struggling to make it as an actress. Surprisingly, Oh seems to have the inside track to Min’s heart, but if you think they will ride off into the sunset together, you haven’t heard a lot of folk songs or seen a lot of tragically romantic Korean box office hits.

It seems strange to make a film about the creation of Twin Folio in which the duo plays such a tangential role, while still forthrightly addressing the marijuana scandal that put their careers on ice for years. Regardless, Kim includes plenty of music for their fans, inventing new backstories for their most popular tunes. It will surely be much more meaningful to the faithful, but those not deeply steeped in the Korean folk scene will still be able to pick up on the film’s shout-outs and call-backs.

The musical numbers are organically integrated into the narrative and the candy-colored 1960s-1970s period details look great. It also should be admitted Oh’s early bashful courtship of Min is appealingly sweet. Unfortunately, an extended third act denouement set forty-some years later rather unsubtly drives the film’s points into the ground. Nevertheless, Jang Hyun-sung almost single-handedly saves the contemporary flashforward as the older, but wiser and hipper Lee.

Frankly, as the young Oh and Min, Jung Woo and Han Hyo-joo are so cute and earnestly sensitive, it is hard to believe they could let contrivances tear them asunder. Yet, such are the demands of Korean tent poles. It works for what it is, sort of like Iain Softley’s Backbeat, but with more yearning and crying. A can’t miss for Twin Folio fans and a guilty pleasure for those who secretly enjoy a shamelessly sentimental movie musical, C’est Si Bon opens this Friday (2/13) in New York, at the Regal E-Walk.

3CD release date: Feb 22, 2011 ; company: Naturally Music

Disc. 1 친구야~ 친구 - 박상규 ; 딜라일라 - 조영남 ; 아파트 - 윤수일

; 한잔의 추억 - 이장희 ; 토요일 토요일 밤에 - 김세환 ; 골목길 - 이재민 ;

나는 피리부는 사나이 - 송창식 ; 바람바람바람 - 김범룡 ; 솔개 - 이태원

; 밤배 - 둘다섯 ; 개똥벌레 - 신형원 ; 모두가 사랑이예요 - 해바라기

; 내사랑 영아 - 이명훈 ; 인생은 미완성 - 이진관 ;

화 - 사월과 오월 ; 여고시절 - 방주연 Disc. 2 친구여 - 조영남 ; 사랑하는 사람아 - 사랑의 듀엣 ; 갯바위 - 한마음 ; 비와 찻잔사이 - 배따라기 ; 사랑일기 - 시인과 촌장 ; 옛시인의 노래 - 한경애 ;

약속 - 이필원 ; 찬비 - 윤정아 ; 향수 - 이동원 ; 타인의 계절 - 한경애 ;

빈의자 - 장재남 작은배 - 조동진 ; 삼포로가는길 - 강은혁 :

눈물로 쓴편지 - 김세화 ; 밤에 떠난여인 - 하남석 ; 친구 - 장은아 Disc. 3 * 그때 그 사람 - 심수봉 ; 탈춤 - 활주로 ; 바윗돌 - 정오차 ; 나어떻해 - 센드페블즈 ;

젊은여인들 - 민병우 ; 불씨 - 신형원 ; 도요새의 비밀 - 이태원 ;

돌고돌아가는길 - 노사연 ; 내게도 사랑이 - 함중아 ;

그대로 그렇게 - 이명훈 ; 백팔번뇌 - 최헌군 ; 스물한살의 비망록 - 스물하나 ;

젊은태양 - 박광주/최혜경 ; 밀려오는 파도소리 - 썰물 ;

님의 기도 - 오누이 ; 나의 꿈 그리고 사랑 - 기타하나동전한잎

See also Twin Folio

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