The first time I ever heard of the Dutch rock band Golden Earring was when I was watching a music video program that aired on Chicago television. The video for "Twilight Zone," the band's last American hit, was a staple of both that program and early MTV, and brought the band's name to the forefront of the infant video technology.
Why American audiences never caught onto Golden Earring is something I'm at a loss to explain or understand. But even I have to admit that I wasn't terribly interested in Golden Earring - that is, until I listened to their 1982 release Cut (which included "Twilight Zone") for the first time. For the most part, the eight songs featured on this record showed there was more to the band than the one song they became known for in the '80s.
Led by guitarist George Kooymans and vocalist/guitarist Barry Hay, Golden Earring have writing rock songs down almost to a science. Bassist/keyboardist Rinus Gerritsen and drummer Cesar Zuiderwiik provide a solid backbeat that really captures the listener's ear - that is, when Kooymans isn't dazzling you with his guitar work. (Kooymans has been recognized as a superior guitar player in Europe; one wonders why his name isn't revered along with others like Rhoads, Van Halen and Clapton on these shores.)
Cut will obviously always be remembered for "Twilight Zone," a song whose bass line is instantly recognizable. And while the bridge prior to Kooymans's guitar solo could have been shortened a bit, the song has withstood the passage of time quite well. (Unlike Golden Earring's other American hit "Radar Love," this one hasn't been oversaturated on the radio airwaves in recent years.) The video for this track is probably more notable for the one scene featuring a topless female for all of one or two seconds - then again, what was shocking in 1982 in the world of music videos would hardly cause any notice in 1998.
Ah, but if you think that the rest of Cut would comprise of danceable songs, you'd be in for one hell of a surprise. The bulk of this album is actually some well-crafted rock withgood songwriting - and while one or two numbers miss the mark, the majority of them beg you for repeated listens, and hold up well. "Baby Dynamite" takes a little time to grow on you, but is a good number, while others like "Future" and "Lost & Found" hit the target almost immediately. "The Devil Made Me Do It," the album's opener, is a slap in the face for those expecting a different version of "Twilight Zone" - but is a welcome shift in direction.
Of the misses, only "Chargin' Up My Batteries" is laughably painful. The other misfire, "Last Of The Mohicans," is just lyrically weak (nothing against Native Americans - hell, the song has little to do with that, anyway).
The bulk of the songs are so well-crafted that the longer numbers (only two songs clock in at under four minutes) seem to fly by. If anything, one might wish that more material had been included on Cut. (And you gotta love the Harold Edgerton photo of the card being sliced by the bullet. Trivia time: What other band used an Edgerton photo on an album cover? E-mail me if you know the answer.)
Golden Earring was a one-hit wonder - twice - in America, a fate they obviously didn't deserve. Cut shows that this band had what they needed to be more permanent stars in this country, if only people had been willing to take a chance on them. It appears that this album is presently out of print, but is well worth searching for at the local used record store.