Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Shocking Blue - Inkpot

The Shocking Blue are one of my all time favorite bands. Originally hailing from the Hague, in the Netherlands they were one of few bands to become a pop success outside of their native homeland. They had their feet firmly planted in both the 60's and 70's and made an impressive catalog of tunes. From the first LP "At Home" on Pink Elephant in 1969 to this 1972 track it's all quality stuff.

Originally formed by Robbie van Leeuwen in 1967 they only had minor success until Mariska Veres took over the vocals. Her powerful voice lead them to a number one single with 'Venus' and commandeered their strong and passionate sound. Most Shocking Blue tracks rage with an unstoppable fire. Simple melodies, clear separation of elements and always with hard drums. The production on all of their material has a serious bite. Everything is loud in the mix and you can plainly hear each individual instrument, making it that much more powerful when things come together. For Shocking Blue it often does come together, and the end result and final package is hard rock with serious soul. If you like your rock and roll with fury and a punch, they're the band for you.
In the eastern melodies, regular use of electric sitar, and tablas, they laid the groundwork for an evil web of rock 'n roll. A sound that later would be harvested by groups ranging from Black Sabbath to Nirvana. Not to mention they became a favorite of beat diggers, funk collectors and rare groove DJ's world wide. Based on snappy drums, breaks, and general potential as a rock group to be sampled, they became even more desired.
Mariska's vocal talents are unbelievable, her vocals soar throughout each number. Those like myself that have an affinity for poorly pronounced english and unusual accents will be pleased with their material. As is the case with a lot of Dutch rock, some words sound even better when pronounced differently. It's not so much how it's said that's important, but what they say. And, there's a LOT of cosmic content to the lyrics here, referencing the sun, the moon and the stars. The lyrics are often heavy with metaphors and imagery.
I also became obsessed with them visually, collecting every 45 release and strange Japanese LP issue just for another cool pic of them. They do look super fab. Sporting the best threads and blending 60's swingin' London with the bright and colorful platform of the 70's glam trip.

This particular track is a light number with a bugglegum or pop feel, yet hardened up with wicked sitar and wah-wah electric sarod. They got a positive message here, and it's one of their less dark tunes..although you can still hear that it dips into that spooky feeling a bit too. The 'Shoe-be-do-wah' lyrics might lose a few customers here, but will more than make up for it with the eastern grooves and bangin' drums. It's psychedelic pop in it's purest form. The changes and grooves laid herein is a small sample of what Shocking Blue are all about.

I highly recommend ALL of SB's material. If you're already familiar with them, you may think why 'Inkpot'? It's partly because it's one of their under-played tunes. I'm a fan as much of this as I am of the smashing 60's punk fury of 'Long And Lonesome Road' Again, all of the Shocking Blue is good. 'Rock In The Sea' which sounds like an early Cure song, is another one from this same year that's incredible as well. There will be many more to post from them in the future. They've got so much good stuff, you could really begin anywhere. I'd start with the first LP, or any compilation of all of their singles.

The Shocking Blue - Inkpot

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