Echoes of Sanullim

I can remember the first time I ever heard a Sanullim song. It was around 3 in the morning, and I had probably had too much to drink, when I stumbled into this random pojang macha in Hongdae. It was a special bar, with the walls covered in old album covers and a reel-to-reel player cranking out some great old music.

After a couple of drinks a new song came on. The heavy, steady bass line immediately caught my attention. After several minutes of listening to that set up, a wonderfully distorted guitar screeched on top of that groove. Finally, after three and a half minutes, a voice cut in, singing that great tune:

Nae maeum-e chudaneul kkalgo… Geudae gilmoke seoseo

Yeppeun chotbullo… Geudaereul majeuri…

Yes, it was one of Sanullim’s most famous songs, NAE MAEUME CHUDANEUL KKALGO, the first song from their second album. I bought it soon after and it quickly became one of my favorite CDs.

So when I read on Club Badabie’s homepage that they were going to have a Sanullim tribute night last Sunday, I was pretty happy. Granted, the circumstances behind the tribute were sad (Kim Chang-ik, the youngest of the three brothers who comprised Sanullim, died in late January, in a traffic accident in British Columbia). But it was a pretty interesting show nonetheless.

Most of the acts chose to interpret the songs in a more folky way. Jia, the Natalie Merchant of Hongdae, did her usual vocal magic. Shin Je-jin did a solid acoustic guitar, folk set.

Juck Juck Haeseo Grunge were the only act to present a more rocking set, but they were excellent. Their version of KAJIMAO was great. NA EOTTEOK HAE was solid, too.

The final group, HI MR. MEMORY, was the most amusing. They all dressed up in odd clothes, wore fake mustaches and acted pleasantly goofy, while performing some first-rate covers.

I wish I could give more details, but I forgot to bring a pen and paper with me, and was busy enough yesterday that I did not have time to write anything down. Now I have forgotten a lot of the details. But I will try to upload a few photos from the show in the next day or show.

Oh, I should mention that after the show, I was inspired to buy the Sanullim box set that has been available for a couple of years. I had resisted because I hoped to track down the reissues of the original albums. I have their second album, but always intended to get Nos. 1, 3 and 4, too. Sadly, though, they all seem to be out of stock. Only Sanullim’s later (and decidedly inferior) albums are available on CD.

The omnibus collection was not bad. Strangely, it lacks Nae Maeume Chudaneul Kkalgo and a few other major songs, but it present a good overview of the band. And it is just 12,500 won for three CDs, so not a bad deal at all.