Golden Earring is from Holland, and as far as most in North America know of them, they were a 2-hit wonder. They had huge hits with “Radar Love” (1973) and “Twilight Zone” (1982), but Golden Earring is the longest running band that until recently – regularly released albums and toured. The band formed as The Tornados in 1961, changed their name to The Golden Earrings and released their first album was in 1965. And although they’d have hits and success in their homeland, it wouldn’t be til the early ’70s that the band had distribution and an impact in North America with a string of classic albums – Moontan, Switch, To The Hilt, and Mad Love when they’d signed to MCA Records. Many years ago I had [still have] been given a few compilation cassettes of the band from my [late] uncle Jim. I never gave them much play, but in recent years I started filling in the gaps in my Golden Earring collection, and more so started digging the band’s 1977 Live album [2LP]. which – if you don’t have it – I think is one of the greatest Live albums of all time.
At this point the band included founding members George Kooymans [guitar, vocals] and Rinus Gerritsen [bass, keyboards, harmonica, guitar], as well as Barry Hay [lead vocals, guitar, flute], sax – since ’67] and Cesar Zuiderwijk [drums, since 1970] , as well and Eelxo Geiling [guitar]. Aside from Geiling, the other 4 members would remain permanent members until the end. The only personnel changes in the ’70s would be the extra guitar player or keyboard player that the band added for various albums. But, yeah – at the time of the Live album, Golden Earring was a 5 -piece, guitar heavy band; not heavy like ‘metal’, just lots of that cool ’70s guitar sound, with some slide guitar, lengthy solos, etc… The band was far from a ‘pop’ band here, stretching out the 10 tracks here with extended jams and solos, You get a 12 minute take of “Radar Love”, a 12 & a half minute play of the classic “Vanilla Queen”, and a 6 and a half minute version of “To The Hilt”.
Most of the tracks are taken from the band’s latest albums, though material from the classic Switch album is absent. There’s also a 10 minute rendition of “Eight Miles High”, which was actually shortened from the near 19 minute version that the band recorded for their 1969 album of the same name. Side One is probably my favorite here kicking off with “Candy’s Going Bad”, followed by “She Flies On Strange Wings” [from 1971’s Seven Tears] , and a near 10 minute rock out on “Mad Love’s Comin'” – the title track to their latest album at the time, and one that makes me wonder if Iron Maiden was listening to this[?].
If you have nothing of or very little of Golden Earring, Live is the best place to start, just an amazing recording of a classic band at their peak. Recently reissued on white vinyl. Would be nice if there was more to these recordings [see the new Be Bop Deluxe Live In The Air Age box set]. There would be a 2nd Live released in 1981, which only got released in the Netherlands and Germany; it features a completely different set of tracks, played to regular lengths [no 10 minute + jams]. And if you are picking up Golden Earring albums, do yourself a favor and get the original European version of Moontan! it features the classic artwork in a gatefold, as well as the proper 6 tracks, where as the North American version cheaps out on the cover art, and shortens the album to 5 songs. But, as I said – start here with Live. Guitarist George Kooymans was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year, putting an end to the band’s amazing 60 years on the rock stage. But, if you’re a fan of those ’70s guitar / jam bands Live is a ‘must have’. The band’s catalogue is long, but well worth looking in to beyond the hits.
*Live has been recently been reissued on white vinyl vi Music On Vinyl.
KJ, 06 / ’21