Shinchon Blues came about in the 80s starting from a gathering of musicians who flocked together for the love of music. They regularly got together to play music in a well known live music cafe in Shinchon, a district of Seoul known as a trend setter, sharing a passion for the blues which was a genre not all that well developed or liked at the time. They hit it off playing their talents off each other as any such young gathering of artists would have. They released several fine albums in the late 80s and the 90s, and eventually become a synonym for blues in Korea, performing fine blues songs of their own style ever since.
그대 없는 거리
Boulevards Without You
Shinchon Blues started with artists such as Eom In Ho (엄인호), Lee Jeong Sun (이정선), Kim Byeong Ho (김병호), Kim Hyun Sik (김현식), and Hahn Young Ae (한영애). In addition to regular members like Eom In Ho who sustained the identity and underlying color of the band, they had rotating guest members that came and went all the time, who brought diverse ideas and styles to the band. They may be the first all-out blues band of Korea, most of their songs either blues outright or influenced by it in some way. Eom In Ho and Lee Jung Sun were the main songwriters in the early days, writing original songs as well as adapting existing ones to blues style. This Korean style blues had peculiarities which distinguished it from both the original American and the blue-eyed British blues. It was not as gritty in character and lacked many of the down-and-dirty elements of the blue from the American south. It also did not feature as much ambitious and flamboyant guitar works as in the British blue personified by such bands as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones among others. Instead it had a softer side, a strong influence of pop ballads, which turned it to a fusion of blues and pop, so that the songs still had the blues underpinnings but also were lighter and prettier than the original blues music. Both lyrically and musically, Shinchon Blues music was much more about the beauties of life, love, and music than bitterness and pains often found in the original blues genre. This pretty blues had a strong appeal to the Korean music fans and established them as one of the major bands with a unique style.
Boulevards Without You (그대 없는 거리) from the album Shinchon Blues 1 is an Eom In Ho composition performed by Hahn Young Ae. It sings about the longing for one’s sweetheart - how she misses him, anguishes and vacillates, and surrenders her own heart under the sway of emotions of affection, an oft repeated theme in pop music. Hahn Young Ae, who was already an experienced singer at the time, delivered a fine performance on this album and received a big boost in popularity. She was the first of the long string of female singers who performed with Shinchon Blues.
Regrets (아쉬움), another Eom In Ho number sung in duet with Chung Seo Yong (정서용), is again about love and the loss of it, the sadness of parting. Conjuring up a scene of a couple who are splitting up to go their own ways, it tells of the lasting emotional aches and the forever etched impressions of the loved one’s face and touches, a perennial and ubiquitous theme of pop music. Chung’s strong and clear sounding vocals play against Eom’s rather gruff voice, doing a call-and-response interplay with a strong contrast.