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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Golden Earrings - Winter-Harvest (1966 holland, fantastic mod beat with , r 'n 'b traces, 2009 RPM extra tracks issue)

The Golden Earrings were riding high in 1966. Their first three singles had been massive Dutch hits, and the previous year had seen the release of their classic debut album Just Earrings. Although it would be another seven years before Radar Love became an international hit, and another three before they would first play America - under their new name Golden Earring - The Golden Earrings were already making records that should have been heard beyond the borders of their native Holland.

This special reissue of Winter Harvest, The Golden Earrings' second album, is supplemented by the contemporary non-album singles. Surprisingly, considering its greatness, it's the album's first release outside Holland on CD. Also out on RPM International are their first and third albums: 1965's Just Earrings and 1968's Miracle Mirror. These gems have always deserved a wider audience.

Winter Harvest marries a tough mod-beat approach to sensitive minor-key melodies, merging The Small Faces' kineticism with the moody sensibilities of The Zombies. The sound was unique to The Golden Earrings, a band that carved their own niche from the start While other Dutch legends like 065 and The Outsiders were unhinged and freaked-out, The Golden Earrings focused their energies on structure and songwriting. The irresistible Winter Harvest is a testament to their success.

After establishing themselves in 1965 as one of the Netherlands' top beat-era bands, the Hague's Golden Earrings entered 1966 at full speed. The previous year had seen Please Go, their debut single, hit Holland's charts. It was followed by the release of their first album, Just Earrings. The quintet - Jaap Eggermont (drums), Rinus Gerritsen (bass), George Kooyrnans (guitar), Frans Krassenburg (vocals) and Peter de Ronde (rhythm guitar) - had charted twice so far in 1966: in January with That Day and in May with If You Leave Me.

The band emerged from The Hague's fertile music scene in 1963 as The Golden Earrings. Before that, they were known as The Tornados and were exclusively instrumental. As the beat boom influence spread across the North Sea, their focus changed and by 1964 they had found a line up that ensured they could be contenders. They signed with Polydor Records in August 1965. A year later they were riding high after three hit singles. All three hits had been kinetic numbers that relied on driving rhythms to make their mark.

When the next single arrived in late August 1966 it became clear The Golden Earrings were absorbing the new textures that could be applied to pop. Like their previous couple of singles, Daddy Buy Me A Girl was completed at London's Pye Studios. Beginning with a Lovin' Spoonful-like strum of an autoharp, Daddy Buy Me A Girl employed rhythmic shifts and counterpoints. Guitars were mainly acoustic and when electric were for tasteful colour rather than block-chord fill.

It's a fair bet that The Kinks' recent hit Sunny Afternoon was an influence. The B-side, What You Gonna Tell, was more Who-like. As usual. The Golden Earrings soon soared to the upper reaches of the Dutch charts. Daddy Buy Me A Girl was helped to immortality by a memorable promotional film shown on the Dutch TV show Twien in October 1966.

The band are seen riding animals from The Hague's circus Heros with a go-go dancer. The clip still crops up on Dutch TV. November 1966 saw the release of their next non-album single, Don't Run Too Far. Although another chart smash, this was a less immediate song, where melody was sacrificed in favour of an emphasis on mass vocals and the integration of brass. The flip, Wings, although attractive, was rather perfunctory. It was a rare misfire, perhaps explained by tensions in the band that came into view in late November when it was announced that rhythm guitarist Peter de Ronde had left the band. No reason was given for his departure.

Continuing as a four piece after the loss of de Ronde, the band immediately began recording their second album. Winter Harvest was completed at Hilversum's Phonogram Studios: budgetary constraints meant that although they could afford to record singles in London, they couldn't fund sessions for a whole album there. The producer was Freddie Haayen, who had been behind the band signing with Polydor. Winter Harvest was issued on 27 January 1967. The Golden Earrings' next album was no misfire.

Winter Harvest was a quantum leap. There were no cover versions, and no songs that had already been issued as singles. This was a selfcontained album. The infectious Lionel The Miser betrays the influence of The Kinks' real-people songs, while Smoking Cigarettes incorporate a moody soul atmosphere. Overall, however, the sound was of a band that were in total control and utterly confident. The departure of de Ronde had strengthened the band. The process of stretching out was underlined by the presence of jazz keyboard player Cees Schrama. A fellow Hague native, he contributed organ, piano and vibes. He also took time out from the sessions to teach Rinus Gerritsen piano at his house.

The Golden Earrings were so taken with Schrama that they became the backing band on his rare May 1967 album The Beast And I , which also featured the otherwise unavailable Gerritsen/Kooymans song Sir Henry The Dancer. Schrama would become one of Holland's top session players, contributing to hits by The Shoes, Shocking Blue and The Tee Set.

By this time, The Golden Earrings were actively looking beyond Holland's borders. They played dates in Stockholm and Hamburg just before the release of Winter Harvest, and also licensed the album to Capitol Records in America. In the process it lost its title - it was issued as The Golden Earrings. They even featured on the cover of the 14 January 1967 issue of US trade magazine Cashbox. But they didn't find an American audience and it would be another two years before they would really get the chance to make an impact there while touring.

Back home, In My House and Smoking Cigarettes were extracted from Winter Harvest as a single coupling in April 1967 As usual it was another massive Dutch hit. The single was followed by the departure of vocalist Frans Krassenburg. His replacement was Barry Hay, the frontman of Hague band The Haigs. Their melodic but tough approach reflected The Golden Earrings' style and he fitted in immediately. Intriguingly, Rinus Gerritsen has said that around this time they were also exploring a partnership with guitarist Robbie van Leeuwen, from fellow Hague band The Motions. Although this came to nothing, they did work together in the studio.

Van Leeuwen went on to form Shocking Blue. This wasn't the only extra-band activity: as songwriters, Gerritsen and Kooymans were increasingly sought after. Hague band The Nicols recorded their non-Golden Earrings' song I've Been Thinking as a single. Kooymans also composed girl singer Bojoura's June 1967 hit Everybody's Day. The new line up with Barry Hay debuted live in August 1967. Frans Krassenburg played his last show as a member of The Golden Earrings in early July. A new phase for The Golden Earrings had begun. Together with Barry, they would complete the magnificent Miracle Mirror album.
by Kieron Tyler, March 2009

1. Another Man In Town - 2:23
2. Smoking Cigarettes -2:20
3. In My House - 3:57
4. Don't Wanna Loose That Girl - 2:15
5. Impeccable Girl - 2:15
6. Tears And Lies - 2:00
7. You've Got To The Intention To Hurt Me - 3:07
8. Dream - 2:39
9. You Break My Heart - 2:00
10. Baby Don't Make Me Nervous - 2:24
11. Call Me - 2:17
12. Happy And Young Together - 3:04
13. Lionel The Miser - 2:29
14. There Will Be A Tomorrow - 2:19
15. Daddy Buy Me A Girl - 2:42
16. What You Gonna Tell - 1:45
17. Don't Run Too Far - 2:15
18. Wings - 2:09
All songs by Geoge Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen.
Bonus Tracks 15-18  from 1966 singles.

The Golden Earrings
* Jaap Eggermont - Drums
* Rinus Gerritsen - Bass, Keyboard
* George Kooymans - Guitar, Vocals
* Frans Krassenburg - Vocals
* Cees Schrama - Piano, Organ, Vibes

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