Shocking Blue this weekend. I know what you’re thinking; “one-hit wonders”. Um, no. Shocking Blue were one of a wave of bands coming out of The Netherlands who scored very highly all over the world, but for whatever reason, had one sizable hit in the U.S.
Forming in 1967, Shocking Blue was already on their third album when Venus was issued and was the only one of 4 singles issued in the states to hit #1. But that’s not to say they didn’t score huge everywhere else. In fact, during their initial tenure (from 1967-1974) they sold some 13 million albums worldwide – not shabby as well as issuing some 29 singles during their tenure. Three follow-up singles were issued in the U.S. and charted, but each charted less, until the last one, Serenade, peaked at 110. After that; nothing,
“Venus” was followed by “Mighty Joe” (flip-side “Wild Wind”) in 1969 and “Never Marry a Railroad Man” (flip-side “Roll Engine Roll”) in 1970, both of which sold over a million records. The latter became a top-ten hit in several countries around the world. Later songs – including “Hello Darkness” (1970), “Shocking You”, “Blossom Lady” and “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” (1971), “Inkpot”, “Rock in the Sea” and “Eve and the Apple” (1972) and “Oh Lord” (1973) were successful in Europe, Latin America and Asia, but failed to chart in the U.S or U.K.
The band broke up in 1974 and had brief reunions in 1974, 1980 and 1984. Shocking Blue were part of that genre known as Nederbeat, which also gave us bands like The Motions, Q65, Golden Earrings, Cuby and The Blizzards and Ro-d-ys (pronounced Roadies . . .dunno why). Only Golden Earring broke through in the U.S. and toured widely, but that wasn’t until the 1970s and their hit Radar Love which made them household names in the mid-70s. The other bands achieved collectable status and became part of the all-encompassing Psychedelic tent which has been visited over the years for recollection and inspiration. Lots of good bands and apparently not enough air-time to go around – but they are worth seeking out -luckily, a lot of small labels have been licensing most of these artists over the years and much of it is still in print as imports. This concert, recorded in 1971 was rumored to have been issued commercially, but I haven’t seen it and this tape comes from a different source anyway (via NHK-FM) – but either way, it sounds great.
In case you missed them the first time, or only know Shocking Blue by Venus (and all the compilations, commercials, TV shows and Moves it’s run in), you may want to sample what else they were doing at the time and perhaps agree they had a bit more to offer than one hit in the states.
Feel free to crank this one up – they were a rather tight little band.