Many don't know it, but the Hague group Shocking Blue were already making records before Mariska Veres entered as their singer in 1968. During that initial period (1967-68), the lineup was: Robbie van Leeuwen (vocals, guitar, ex-Motions), Fred de Wilde (vocals, ex-Hu & Hilltops), Klaasje van der Wal (bass) and Cor van Beek (drums, ex-Sect). In 1968, Fred was replaced by Mariska, who had already made a solo single in 1965. She was discovered by manager Cees van Leeuwen at the jazz festival in Loosdrecht. She already had some group experience, with the Bumble Bees.
With "Venus", Shocking Blue scored an international hit (number one in the U.S.), but, unfortunately, the decay of the group began shortly thereafter. Constant changes in the lineup were to blame, for one thing: in 1970, Leo van de Ketterij came on board, to boost the group as the second guitarist, but he left less than a year later. Also in 1971 Klaasje, who departed to join Antilope, was succeeded by Henk Smitskamp, ex-Sandy Coast. In 1973 Robbie withdrew himself from the position as a lead guitarist, and on stage had to be replaced by Martin van Wijk, ex-Jupiter.
In 1974, the group broke up. Robbie formed Galaxy Lin, a short-lived jazz-rock outfit, and later - another studio outfit Mistral; Cor and Martin went to Lemming; Mariska continued making a number of solo records. Henk went on to join Livin' Blues.
1967 Love is in the air/What you gonna do Polydor S 1248 1968 Lucy Brown is back in town/Fix your hair darling Pink Elephant PE 22001 Send me a postcard darling/Harley Davidson 22004 LP Polydor 236173 LP Beat with us Karussell 635240 1969 Long and lonesome road/Fireball of love Pink Elephant PE 22007 Venus/Hot sand 22015 Mighty Joe/Wild wind 22029 LP At home 888001 LP Sensational (comp.) Discofoon 7077 1970 Never marry a railroad man/Roll engine roll Pink Elephant PE 22040 Hello darkness/Pickin' tomatoes 22045 Scorpio's dance/Sally was a good old girl promo LP Scorpio's dance 877002 LP Hello darkness (comp.?) 888007 1971 Shocking you/Waterloo 22050 Blossom lady/Is this a dream 22053 Out of sight out of mind/I like you 22055 LP Shocking you (aka "3rd Album") 877010 1972 Inkpot/Give my love to the sunrise 22604 Rock in the sea/Broken heart 22059 Eve and the apple/When I was a girl 22066 LP Live in Japan 888014 LP Best 888015 LP Inkpot 877018 LP With love (comp.) Capri CA 38 LP Attila Pink Elephant PE 877025 1973 Venus/Mighty Joe/Never marry a railroad man 22063 Oh Lord/Everything that's mine 22741 Let me carry your bag/I saw you in June 22068 LP Ham (same as Dream On Dreamer) 877039 LP Eve and the apple (same as Dream On Dreamer) Polydor 2310260 1974 This America/I won't be lonely long Pink Elephant PE 22812 Good times/Come my way 22846 LP Een groot uur Capri 2CO 57/58 LP Good times Pink Elephant PE 877069 1975 Gonna sing my song/Get it on 22071 LP Golden stars Omega LPX 423 1977 Venus/Hot sand Pink Elephant HP 79733 [28-09-1968]^21*5 LUCY BROWN IS BACK IN TOWN shocking blue [14-12-1968]^11*7 SEND ME A POSTCARD shocking blue [08-03-1969]^17*7 LONG LONESOME ROAD shocking blue [12-07-1969]^3*26 VENUS shocking blue [29-11-1969]^1*18 MIGHTY JOE shocking blue [06-06-1970]^1*12 NEVER MARRY A RAILROAD MAN shocking blue [21-11-1970]^6*8 HELLO DARKNESS shocking blue [06-03-1971]^12*5 SHOCKING YOU shocking blue [21-08-1971]^2*10 BLOSSOM LADY shocking blue [27-11-1971]^6*10 OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND shocking blue [11-03-1972]^5*9 INKPOT shocking blue [19-08-1972]^12*5 ROCK IN THE SEA shocking blue [09-12-1972]^13*8 EVE AND THE APPLE shocking blue [07-04-1973]^14*5 OH LORD shocking blue
Mariska started out in 1964 as a vocalist in Les Mysteres; after that she also sang in the Blue Fighters (1966), Danny & Favourites (1967) and the Motowns (1967). In 1968, she was asked to join Shocking Blue, the outfit in which she found fame all over the world. After the group disbanded in 1974, Mariska made a number of solo-records, sang in Mistral (1978) and also participated in the ill-fated Shocking Blue reunion in 1980.
1965 Topkapi/Is het waar Imperial IH 639 1967 Dag en nacht/Al wordt 't nu winter Philips JF 333893 1975 Take me high/I'm loving you Pink Elephant PE 22091 Tell it like it is/Wait till I get back to you Pink Elephant PE 22099 1976 Lovin' you/You showed me how Pink Elephant PE 22176 Little by little/Help the country Pink Elephant PE 22200 Mach mich frei/Ich liebe doch nur dich Omega 36351 1977 Too young/You don't have to know Scramble SRS 510013 1978 Bye bye to romance/It's a long hard road CNR 141480 1980 Looking out for number one/ ? 1982 Wake up city/In the name of love EMI 5C 006-26780
MARISKA VERES 30-8-75 SINGLE 27 3 TAKE ME HIGH 29-11-75 SINGLE tip TELL IT LIKE IT IS 31-7-76 SINGLE 16 6 LOVIN' YOU 20-11-76 SINGLE tip LITTLE BY LITTLE 16-7-77 SINGLE tip TOO YOUNG
Robbie van Leeuwen's part-time group, including also Henk Smitskamp and Rene Nodelijk.
1967 Let the circle be unbroken/Count down Havoc SH 128
Studio group led by Robbie van Leeuwen (ex-Galaxy
Musicians involved included Rick van der Linden (guesting on keyboards) and Kid van Ettinger (bass).
Vocalists: Sylvia van Asten (1977, member of Funny Face), Marjan Schattelijn (1978), Mariska Veres (1978) and Sheen Milholland (1980). From 1981, Funny Face were occasionally billed as Mistral.
1977 Jamie/Nectar CNR 141421 1978 Starship 109/Love destruction CNR 141455 Neon city/Asphalt CNR 141496 1980 You're my hero/New born butterfly CNR 141619 I feel it/Too late to be sorry CNR 141692
3-12-77 SINGLE 15 8 JAMIE 8-4-78 SINGLE 9 8 STARSHIP 109 [Alarmschijf op 1-4-78] 21-10-78 SINGLE 37 3 NEON CITY
Beat group from The Hague; in 1964, they won the first prize at the talent hunt in Meerrust-Warmond. Also toured Germany. The lead singer was Mariska Veres.
The Blue Fighters from The Hague released one flexi-EP. The line-up
featured: John Merano (v), Henk Scheepstra (dr), Ed Koetsier (b, to Nicols), Ton
van Oudheusden (g) and Rob Poerbo (g). In 1966, they accompanied Mariska Veres
(ex-Mystères) for a short while. A year before that, they took part in
the Cabaret der Onbekenden.
Although glibly labelled by many as one-hit wonders - albeit international ones, due to the US chart-topping success of 'Venus' - Shocking Blue have recently had their music rediscovered and reassessed by critics and public alike.
Though the band reached the peak of their commercial success at the start of the Seventies, their origins lay further back in the diverse, exciting and woefully ignored Dutch scene of the mid-Sixties.
The Dutch beat boom started when Johnny Kendall and the Heralds' version of 'St James' Infirmary' charted in late 1964. Prior to that, most of the home- grown acts to find success had either been wholesome teen stars or guitar instrumental acts in the style of the Shadows.
Many of the leading lights of the beat boom got their start in these guitar groups. In several instances, the groups themselves evolved and changed styles: ZZ and the Maskers dropped the leader's name for several singles and backed Chubby Checker when he was based in the country (after marrying the Netherlands' representative in a Miss World contest!)
While major cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam all had bands of note, the Hague was undoubtedly the Netherlands' musical hotbed. Almost everything was covered, from cultural outlaws such as Q65, through beat groups such as The Hunters (Focus star Jan Akkerman's first major act) through many pop acts the Sandy Coast and Golden Earring (who at this time could be compared with the Hollies). But one band alone captured the style and energy of British Mod acts like the Small Faces and the Action: that was the Motions.
Robbie van Leeuwen, guitarist, songwriter and effectively leader of Shocking Blue, had previously held a similar position in the Motions in their early hit making phase. Those hits included 'It's Gone', 'Wasted Words' (a paean to Dr. Martin Luther King), 'Every Step I Take' and 'Everything That's Mine' the latter one of the finest slices of Mod/Art Pop produced anywhere in the world.
The Shocking Blue story effectively started when Van Leeuwen left the Motions in 1967 due to conflicts with lead singer Rudy Bennett. He recruited members from other Hague bands for his new group: the line-up for the first Shocking Blue singles, up to and including the first hit, 'Lucy Brown Is Back In Town', was Van Leeuwen (guitar), Fred de Wilde (vocals), Klaasje van de Waal (bass) and Cor van Beek (drums). The single charted well, things were about to change.
About the same time as Lucy Brown's release, fellow Hague band Golden Earring had hit the jackpot with the pure bubblegum of 'Dong Dong Di Ki Di Gi Dong'. A band was hired to play at the party they held to celebrate their first Number 1; named the Bumble Bees, they were fronted by a strong and striking female vocalist. Shocking Blue's manager and publisher both attended the party, and both felt certain this singer would be ideal for their band. The woman in question was Mariska Veres.
The new line-ups' first single, 'Send Me A Postcard', was a runaway success in the Netherlands, while the follow-up 'Long Lonesome Road', also made the domestic Top 20. But it was the third single with Veres that would seal the band's fate. 'Venus' made Number 3 in Holland, but significantly topped the charts in several countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
The record came to the attention of a newly formed American record label, Colossus. The label's head Jerry Ross signed Shocking Blue for the States and was rewarded when 'Venus' hit the top there in February 1970. Ross also signed two other Dutch acts, the Tee Set (formed by former After Tea singer Peter Tetteroo) and the George Baker Selection: the Tee Set's 'Ma Belle Amie' also rose high in the US charts to Number 5, while Baker's biggest hit for Colossus, 'Little Green Bag', was later used on the soundtrack of the 90s film "Reservoir Dogs".
Shocking Blue's follow-up to 'Venus', 'Mighty Joe', made Number 1 in Holland and charted almost everywhere its predecessor had. But the international success 'Venus' had appeared to herald failed to materialise. Although the band was still releasing excellent and often innovative singles and still charting in Europe, Van Leeuwen was dissatisfied and increasingly frustrated by the limits of Shocking Blue's chart success. When mainland European bands once again returned in vogue on the back of ABBA's Eurovision victory, the band failed to capitalise and eventually split.
Mariska Veres continued as a solo singer, Van Leeuwen producing her on songs like 'Too Young' and 'Loving You' (both included as bonus tracks on this compilation), he also enjoyed local success in the mid-Seventies with a group, Galaxy Lin.
But Shocking Blue returned to the fray, albeit for one night only, in 1984 at a Back to the Sixties festival in Den Bosch along with the surviving members of Q65, the Shoes and members of other Hague groups. It proved to be a night to remember: Van Leeuwen still had style, and Veres still had one of the greatest female rock voices: the band's interpretations of Jefferson Airplane's 'Somebody To Love' and 'White Rabbit' were just as strong as their own songs.
The continuing interest in Sixties music, along with the realisation that bands whose mother tongue is not English are as musically valid as British, American and Antipodean acts, has led to an increasing appreciation of Shocking Blue's music. Their songs receive radio and club play, while bands have also covered the songs: the most significant re-recording came from grunge supergroup Nirvana, whose debut release on the Sub Pop label was a version of 'Love Buzz' that's rather different to the one you hear here. 'Venus', meanwhile, has proved to have a life of its own. It's been used in television advertisements, while Bananarama's version equalled the original chart position in the US in 1986.
Photos of the band indicate that Shocking Blue seems to trade on Veres' striking, essentially female appearance. Yet it fails to smack of exploitation simply because of the sheer power of the woman. Much has been made of her ancestry - part-German, part-Hungarian Gypsy, and the resulting dark, sultry features. Here was a woman in control. Her voice had and still has a strength and quality that puts her on a par with other powerful female contemporaries like Julie Driscoll and Grace Slick. Maybe the time has come to acknowledge this fact as we enjoy a collection of Shocking Blue classics.
Taken from the liner notes of the 1994 CD, "Best of Shocking Blue", Connoisseur label.
Shocking Blue Discography (Morten Vindberg)
Submitted by: Adri Verhoef (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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