Posts Tagged ‘vw rabbit’

“Live” by Golden Earring (1977)

My friends and I used to exchange birthday gifts.

Here’s how it usually worked. One of us would buy an LP. We’d cut a slit in the shrink wrap, pull out the record, commit it to cassette tape, then return it to the jacket. Happy birthday, everyone!

The Harrisburg East Mall had a great record store called the Music Scene, and I get a bit weepy every time I think that not only is that store long gone, practically every store like that is history. But that’s a gripe for another day (like the time I wrote about it for my newspaper column).

During one of my marathon Music Scene perusal sessions, I came across a double live album by Golden Earring, a Dutch band that had its moment in the American sun with “Radar Love.” I noticed that song on the live collection, along with a cover version of one of my all-time favorites, the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.”

My friend Terry’s birthday was coming right up, so I did the usual routine. Terry received a once-played two-record set as a gift from yours truly.

The Maxelle cassette version of Golden Earring “Live” became a favorite play of mine, and a favorite listen for practically everyone who heard it with me. The album, itself, failed to make much of an impact with the general public, but I enjoyed it until the tape finally went kaput several years later.

By that time, “Live” was out of print, and it didn’t resurface on CD for a couple of decades, even though Golden Earring made a brief ’80s comeback with “Twilight Zone.” Matter of fact, the band still is active today, more than half a century after teenagers George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen formed the Golden Earrings. Today’s version features those two plus singer Barry Hay, who came aboard later in the ’60s, and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk, who joined in 1970.

That’s impressive.

On “Live,” that quartet was augmented by guitarist Eelco Gelling to produce a hard-rocking album that deviated somewhat from the band’s then-recent dabblings in progressive rock.

The power chords that open “Candy’s Going Bad” set the tone, and the energy never lets up, all the way through the set-closing paean to an early rocker, “Just Like Vince Taylor.”

Some listeners may take issue with the way the band stretches out some of the songs, but that’s certainly never been an issue with me!

The Earrings, in fact, take it a bit easy on “Eight Miles High.” The band originally made its American reputation in the late ’60s performing marathon versions of the song, and it took up an entire side of vinyl as the title track of a 1970 album.

“Eight Miles High” is one of a pair of songs on Side Two of the LP, followed by the album’s shining 12 minutes, “The Vanilla Queen.” The tale of a call girl (same subject matter as “Candy’s Going Bad”) rides a D-minor chord progression into a stunning, no-holds-barred outro that tops the studio version, which is augmented by a horn section.

The second half of the album can’t quite match that, although it’s a good listen all the way through. I remember listening to my cassette in the car, and when the “Radar Love” line “it’s half past four and I’m shifting gear” came roaring through the speakers, that’s what I’d do with the stick shift in my VW Rabbit.

I haven’t owned a manual-transmission vehicle for decades. And I haven’t recorded anyone’s birthday present before giving it to him in a long time, either.

When Jerry Garcia was 40 years old, he pretty much looked like he was 40. Sure, there was a little bit of graying in the beard. But the rapid aging process that characterized his last decade or so hadn’t kicked in yet.

When Jerry Garcia was 40 years old, I saw my first Grateful Dead concert. That applied to most of my friends in my hometown of Harrisburg, PA, and my college, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. We converged on the Coliseum at West Virginia University for the Dead’s show on April 10, 1983.

The concert was on a Sunday, and we departed the night before, for reasons I can’t remember. I do recall hooking up a couple of decent-sized speakers in the back of my VW Rabbit and listening to, among other fare, “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” by the Small Faces. The cockney narrative during the “Happiness Stan” saga really blew our friend Ed’s mind …

OK, enough with the esoteric ’60s psychedelic references.

Anyway, we arrived at our fraternity’s house at WVU, and the brothers said we could sleep in some kind of TV room. It was freezing cold, but fortunately someone had left behind a sleeping bag to spend the night elsewhere (young lady?), so I didn’t suffer from hypothermia.

We killed time prior to the concert the next day by watching television … hey, we didn’t have to move. Dudley Moore as “Arthur” was on HBO. Wowee Zowee.

Finally, we made our way over to the coliseum and discovered why, indeed, there was nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.

Among the songs the band performed was “Touch of Grey,” for only the sixth time, as far as I could tell. Jerry and the boys kind of butchered it, as later listenings to the show reveal, but we thought it was great! I remember my old roommate Mike and I discussing how, if the Dead released that tune as a single, it just might be a hit.

Four years (and one Garcia diabetic coma) later, our prediction came true.

Part of the song’s success was the associated video, which gained heavy airplay on MTV and revealed Jerry to have way more than a touch of gray in his mid-40s. I remember some high-school kids at the time saying something to the effect of, “There’s this 80-year-old guy singing, ‘I will survive!'”

Anyway, I happened to be driving through Morgantown this evening and took a quick shot of the old Coliseum just as the light was turning green. It’s a more than a little fuzzy … but so were a lot of people back on that night back in ’83.

Associated listening: “In the Dark” by the Grateful Dead (1987)