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Friday, November 25, 2011

The Golden Earrings - Just Ear Rings (1965 holland, smart beat 'n' roll, 2009 extra tracks edition)

When Golden Earring scored a massive worldwide hit with  Radar Love in 1973/4, few of their new fans knew  they'd formed in the early '6os and already had an unbroken string of Dutch hits.  Early on, they were The Golden Earrings -  the name change came in 1969, the year they struck out on their first American tour.  Before then, they'd remained Holland's secret. 

This special reissue of their debut album, 1965  Just Earrings, finally means the secrecy is over. Also out on RPM International are their second and third albums:  1967's Winter Harvest and 1968's Miracle Mirror.  It's about time, the Golden Earrings had their own voice from  the beginning.  They were always melodic, always focused, always immediate,  their music combined the tough chunkiness of The Who and  The Kinks with the minor- key, brooding melodies of The Zombies.  They had arrived on record fully formed.  Where bands like the rough-hewn Outsiders defined the edgy sound of Amsterdam, the more polished Golden Earrings  defined the sound of The Hague.

This - the first-ever CD release of Just Earrings outside The Netherlands - supplements the album with all the single-only  tracks that bookended the album. From the raving freakbeat  of Chunk Of Steel, the B-side of their first single,  to the wonderful That Day,  the top side of their second 45,  it's obvious The Golden Earrings were developing at an  incredible pace.  Just Earrings was issued between those first two singles,  and stands as one of Europe's best beat-era albums. and that includes the UK. 

Beyond displaying a top-drawer songwriting talent,  the album included only one cover version.  Who else was that confident in 1965? The Golden Earrings were amongst Holland's first home-grown  beat era stars: before Q65 and The Outsiders.  Please Go, their first single hit the Dutch charts  in September 1965 and began a career that still thrives. Just Earrings is the foundation of that career.

The roots of The Golden Earrings lie in The Tornados,  a band formed by 13-year-old George Kooymans  and 15-year-old Marinus Gerritsen in 1962. George had arrived at Rinus - as Marinus is known  to all - house in the south of The Hague to give older brother  Rob Gerritsen a Guitarlesson.  But Rob soon passed his guitar to younger brother Rinus,  who quickly formed a band with George. 

For influences, Rinus has said that 'Little Richard,  Lloyd Price, Fats Domino and Elvis: those are the first names that come to mind when I think back to those days' Settling as Rinus Gerritsen (bass), Hans van Herwerden (guitar), Freddie van der Hilst (drums) and George Kooymans (guitar),  the band became The Tornados. An instrumental outfit,  their repertoire included Shadows and Ventures numbers.

At the time, and it wasn't unusual for teenagers to start combos in The Hague. The city was stuffed with rock 'n1 roll bands and  competition was tough. The scene took off around 1957/8 when  The Room Rockers, The Black Dynamites, The Hot Jumpers  and The Rhythm Stars began playing live. Uniquely,  this boom was fuelled by bands made up from Indonesian immigrants Indo-Rock had been born.  The Netherlands' home-grown rock 'n1 roll scene owes  its existence to the Indo-Rockers. Ultimately,  Breda's Tielman Brothers would become Holland's kings of Indo-Rock.

With a live circuit and primed audiences, The Tornados - due  to their youth - started out playing school parties.  By then end of the year though, they'd begun playing clubs. After the British Tornados' Telstar became a Dutch hit  in late 1962, a name change was inevitable. In early 1963  the band chose The Golden Earrings, from the standard that  Peggy Lee had a hit with in 1948.

Another change came when Hans van Herwerden was replaced by Peter de Ronde. Then, by the end of 1963, it became clear  that the shifting musical climate meant the band would have  to incorporate vocals. Frans Krassenburg became their singer in early 1964. Now fit for Beat Boom purpose, the five-piece Golden Earrings  were up against stiff competition. Fellow Hague band The Motions  - with future Shocking Blue leader Robbie van Leeuwan -  were also moving fast.  So fast they scored the coveted support slot at The Rolling Stones' one-off Dutch date at Scheveningen's Kurhaus on  8 August 1964 (Scheveningen is the beach resort that borders  on The Hague).

The Dutch bands were well aware of the desire for beat music  that was on their doorstep. Pirate radio station Veronica  was broadcasting from a ship moored off the Dutch coast  (its programmes were recorded in a Hilversum studio).  The 7000 tickets sold for The Beatles' only Dutch date at Blokker on 6 June 1964 was already proof enough of that.  The seat smashing which kicked off the moment The Stones  took the stage at the Kurhaus meant that beat music could  even score some headlines.

Before The Golden Earrings could grab attention they adjusted  their line up again. By the end of 1964 drummer Jaap Eggermont  had joined from local outfit The Pirates. The recording line up  had finally arrived: Jaap Eggermont (drums),  Rinus Gerritsen (bass), George Kooymans (guitar),  Frans Krassenburg (vocals) and Peter de Ronde (rhythm guitar). Pirates' manager Jacques Senf also came on board. As the band entered 1965, the local music scene was beginning to exert  its identity. The Motions had recorded their first tracks in January,  and entered the Dutch charts in April with their debut single  It's Gone.  Home-grown bands could now compete.  The Golden Earrings had the chance to grab the brass ring.

The break came in July 1965 after they had appeared at a so-band showcase that climaxed with a Kinks' performance.  Shortly afterwards, Freddy Haayen saw the band at their  regular venue Club 192 (run by Senf, their manger).  Haayen said he worked for Polydor Records and that he wanted  to record them.  Actually, he was an architecture student who also worked as a trainee at Polydor's warehouse. 

The Golden Earrings didn't know this and duly turned up  at Hilversum's Phonogram Studio on the afternoon  of 8 August to record four tracks: Please Go,  Chunk Of Steel, Lonely Everyday and Not To Find.  Haayen had made good on his bluff and scored a deal with Polydor.  Released in September, Please Go immediately started  climbing the Dutch charts, reaching number 10 after TV  appearances  and special shows arranged for the press. 

Despite being a recording debut, this stunningly mature song had a note-perfect arrangement. As momentum built, The Golden Earrings were billed with visiting British bands to represent what Holland could do.  In September they played with The Who;  November saw them teamed up with The Kinks. The only thing that jarred was Frans Krassenburg's short hair,  the result of a brush with National Service. In the wake of the debut hit, the band completed their first  album, Just Earrings.  Released November 1965,  the album showcased the band's supreme confidence. 

The 12 tracks included just one cover version, Sticks And Stones. From the opening chords of Nobody But You,  it's instantly clear that melody was the band's forte  - even when balanced against those slabs of Who- derived guitar dissonance heard a minute in. The band was hurtling forwards. So much so, that a second single of album track Lonely Everyday was shelved. Lonely Everyday  and its planned B-side Not To Find were also recorded at  that first session in August.  Licensing restrictions prevent the inclusion of Not To Find - a great raving number - on this collection.  The sleeve of this rarity is illustrated anyway.

The next year began with a trip to London to record their  second single proper. Both That Day and its B-side  The Words I Need were recorded at Pye Studios on 5 January,  with Pirates' guitarist Aat den Dulk on piano. The session was followed by a single live date, at a club in south-east London's Forest Hill. The journey to London  was made by boat, because there was no money to go by plane, ' remembered Rinus Gerritsen.  "Everyone was seasick, but that was soon forgotten when we stuffed our instruments into a couple of London taxis  and drove to Pye Studios' The Golden Earrings were the first  Dutch band to record in England.  Their rivals The Motions followed suit in February,  also recording at Pye.  The Golden Earrings were setting the agenda now.

Another hit, That Day confirmed that The Golden Earrings  were a major force. But that was still true for Holland only:  the February 1966 British release of the single by Polydor  went nowhere. There was enormous pressure on us to produce a sequel to  That Day,1 recalled Rinus Gerritsen. ' So we tried to write a song in the same style.' That sequel, If You Leave Me, was also recorded in London  and issued in May 1966.  Although another consummate performance and another hit, the band weren't satisfied with the quality  of the production and dispatched Freddie Haayen back to London  to remaster the single. Established as one of The Netherlands'  top bands, The Golden Earrings would continue consolidating  their position while always progressing. Their next album, igGy's Winter Harvest, was another landmark. Which is where the story continues.
by Kieron Tyler,  March 2009

1. Nobody But You - 2:18
2. I Hate Saying These Words - 2:17
3. She May Be (G.Kooymans) - 1:47
4. Holy Witness (G.Kooymans) - 2:47
5. No Need To Worry (M.Gerritsen) - 2:04
6. Please Go - 2:56
7. Sticks and Stones (T.Turner) - 1:41
8. I Am A Fool (M.Gerritsen) - 2:06
9. Don't Stay Away - 2:10
10.Lonely Everyday - 1:42
11.When People Talk - 2:47
12.Now I Have (G.Kooymans) - 1:38
13.Chunk Of Steel (G.Kooymans, M.Gerritsen, Ronde) - 2:25
14.That Day -  2:30
15.The Words I Need - 2:15
16.If You Leave Me - 2:17
17.Waiting For You - 2:27
All tracks by Rinus Gerritsen, George Kooymans excepr where stated

The Golden Earrings
*George Kooymans - Guitar, Vocals
*Jaap Eggermont - Drums
*Rinus Gerritsen - Bass, Keyboard
*Frans Krassenburg - Vocals
*Peter De Ronde - Rhythm Guitar

The Golden Earring 
1968-69  Miracle Mirror (2009 bonus tracks edition)
1966  Winter-Harvest (2009 extra tracks issue)
1969  On The Double
1969/71 Eight Miles High / Seven Tears
1972  Together
1973  Moontan

1971  George Kooymans - Jojo
1972  Barry Hay - Only Parrots, Frogs And Angels

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