Sunday, February 18, 2018

Eight Miles High - The Golden Earring

Eight Miles High
The Golden Earring
Polydor 2485 113

This is a late 1970s/early 1980s Dutch re-issue of Golden Earring's fifth album.  Like most Americans I first became aware of the band when "Radar Love" became a hit here in 1974.  I had just started to listen to the radio a lot and it was one of my favorite songs of the time.  I liked the song so much that I eventually bought "Moontan" which is the album it was featured on.  I figured that was all the Golden Earring I would ever need.  Many years later I learned that Golden Earring had been around long before I had ever heard them.  Their career dates back to the early 1960s.  I bought a CD compilation of their 1960s singles in the Netherlands and liked it although it is pretty derivative of British Invasion style pop.  It made me interested enough in the band to buy this album when I came across it in a record store.  I might have bought it even without knowing anything about the band simply because I was intrigued by their side long cover of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" which is one of my all-time favorite songs.  The record opens with bassist/keyboardist Marinus Gerritsen's "Landing" which is a heavy organ driven rocker that reminds me of a cross between Iron Butterfly and Deep Purple.  I'm a sucker for a good riff and I dig the song's heaviness.  The lyrics are trippy and enigmatic.  The remaining songs on side one were written by guitarist George Kooymans.  "Song of a Devil's Servant" opens with a lengthy instrumental passage featuring flute runs by lead singer Barry Hay.  Sieb Warner contributes some Indian style percussion as well.  The song initially sounds like the Moody Blues, but then the band begins rocking out with a Jethro Tull-like riff.  The song is about a guy who sold his soul to the devil.  Hay isn't a strong enough singer to hold his own against the band's forceful sound, he sounds strained at times.  "One Huge Road" is a straight ahead rocker.  It features another booming riff and lots of energetic guitar noise.  Kooymans takes the mike on this track but he isn't any more effective than Hay.  Despite the song's heaviness it also has an agreeable poppiness to its sound.  That is largely absent from the pounding dreariness of "Everyday's Torture."  It reminds me of Led Zeppelin's cover of "Dazed and Confused."  The torture in the song refers to unrequited love and heartbreak although the lyrics are so awkward that they have little impact.  Side two consists of the band's extended workout on "Eight Miles High."  The song begins with a subdued, jangly sound that adheres closely to the original song's arrangement.  It drifts away from that in the instrumental break with some raga-ish guitar noodling that gradually gains in strength and volume leading into a more highly charged riff-driven instrumental passage that has little resemblance to the original version of the song.  Regrettably that gives way to Warner's drum solo which goes on way too long.  Gerritsen then joins him for an extended bass solo that isn't much better but restores a little of the song's momentum.  Finally the guitar returns and the band lurches into some energetic jamming that eventually after a brief pause evolves into a riff that sounds like it was lifted from Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive."  From there the original Byrds song at last reappears leading to the songs rather abrupt conclusion.  I have to admit the first time I played this track I was really disappointed.  I like it better now although I still think the drum and bass solos are boring.  You should check it out if you are a fan of the original song.  The album itself is too derivative and lyrically weak to be essential, but it is worth looking for if you like late 1960s hard rock and appreciate a good riff.  Recommended to fans of Humble Pie and Free.

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