Monday, December 20, 2010

Golden Earring - The Continuing Story Of Radar Love (MCA, 1989)

Though Golden Earring have amassed over three dozen hit singles in their native Netherlands, they are generally known for two classic-rock staples which charted nine years apart in America. 1973's "Radar Love" (#13 Billboard) might be the ultimate driving-to-see LovieHoneyBabyBunchesOfOats (a pet name for my ex-girlfriend) tune ever grooved to a long player. With thick bass lines, tasty guitar licks and powerful percussion (Blue Oyster Cult and the Alice Cooper Band trading "blows" in an Amsterdam rock club?), the illegal-to-own-in-Virginia detector helped spot the hidden police cruisers along the side streets of Lynnhaven Parkway during the song's many airings on 106.9 The Fox circa 1998-2003. My radar lover and '87 Chrysler New Yorker from those peak years are forever gone to a junkyard full of broken hearts and cracked engines, but new voices in my head will drive my heel and shift gears en route to potential lovelies in Timonium, MD, Windy City, IL and Ghent, VA. Their names aren't Brenda Lee, but I hope they come on strong. Reaching #10 on Billboard in 1982, "Twilight Zone" was a perfect fit for the days when video first killed the radio star. The choppy beats and instrumental midsection were rooted in rock, but the thump was suitable for dance floors at meat markets like Rogue's Gallery in Va. Beach. GE's answer to the Stones' "Miss You"? Maybe, baby. The video was acclaimed for being one of the first with a cinematic storyline, as band members filled the roles of a secret agent and his pursuers. Who can forget the scene of a playing card being sliced in two? Not me, Jack. If Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" owns 3 AM, then "Twilight Zone" rules the post-Lovie ride back home an hour later. Many folks in Tidewater have confused these two songs with one another. I blame then-FM99 WNOR DJ Liz Gillette for the mix-up. To my connection in Maryland: Please don't get tired of taking chances. Call me at 2 AM, unless all circuits are dead. If you tear a card in half, make sure it's not the Two of Hearts. Such severance would be the bullet that hits the bone between my chest.

Barry Hay (vocals/guitar/flute/saxophone), George Kooymans (guitar/vocals), Rinus Gerritsen (bass/keyboards) and Cesar Zuiderwijk (drums) have been the core of Golden Earring since 1970. As teenagers, Kooymans and Gerritsen founded the band in 1961 (!) -- when the group was called Golden Earrings and influenced by the pop stylings of the era. In 1968, the "S" was dropped, Hay took over as lead vocalist and the shift was made to a heavier rock sound. Bookended by the two U.S. hits, The Continuing Story Of Radar Love unfolds ten other chapters in GE's fascinating history. How come "Quiet Eyes" (1986) wasn't the band's third Top 20 single in the States? The black-and-white video features fuzzy televisions, spinning clocks, an appealing ticket-taker with eyeglasses and an ample bosom, clever "Soul Train" scramble board-style word alterations and a gang chorus dedicated to the tossin' 'n' turnin' one ("Quiet eyes, silent tears/Silent as the night you deserted me"). Unlike the clip's pajama-clad insomniac whose restless night seems like it's lasting seven years, those who would later purchase Pink Floyd's comeback effort totally missed the wake-up call of this mid-paced gem. Another momentary lapse of reason is why "She Flies On Strange Wings" (1971) isn't universally regarded as a riff-rock masterpiece. Kooyman's guitar wizardry brings to mind the meatier moments of BOC's catalog, while quieter tones emanate like a Waters/Gilmour dreamy soundscape. If the cover band you're in starts playing a different tune, send 'em on the hot rails to hell and seek GE's approval to glide on "...Strange Wings." Worthy of the glam-with-attitude poses struck by The Sweet and Slade, "Candy's Going Bad" (1973) has strong parental objections to a daughter's enjoyment of the wild nightlife ("Daddy said, 'I'll break your bones'/If you come home dressed in peacock clothes/Mother said,'Quit the show'/She didn't want the neighbors to know"). Alas, Candy finds a pimp named Ted and turns tricks for pearls. Keeping it sleazy, Alice Cooper would've given GE the heads of eighteen boa constrictors and bubble shafts in exchange for the weighty strap of "Leather" (1978). Free of the WTF experimentation AC was mired in at the time, the cut is a flatline rocker offering a no-holds-barred look into the S & M subculture ("Sharper than a razor/She hurts me with a laser beam/Burnin' leather keeps her tougher/She stole my dignity"). 1974's "Kill Me (Ce Soir)" is another tale The Coop wishes he had told on his own wax. It might be "too much risk for a golden disc," but musicians will forever take a shot -- even if it means getting shot ("Vick played the part/With all his heart/He wasn't prepared for the shock/When howling lead/Bit into his head/A new martyr for the book of rock").

If your book of rock doesn't mention Golden Earring, the story isn't worth continuing.

-Gunther 8544


Anonymous said...

But maybe the hearts are cracked and the engines are the thing thats. Broken... Very cleaver though or id it 'cleaver'? Hmmmm.Tough tunes on the ride home... Well said G-man.

gunther said...

Could be, Shawn. One of my goals for 2011 is to hear every GE A- and B-side. I'll start making the checklist soon.