When considering the history of the one hit wonder, there are multiple factors in play. Are you considering those acts that had a single chart-topping hit, and then disappeared without trace, or an act that had one big hit that was not necessarily a chart-topper? What if the act had more hits in countries other than your own? There have been much heated debate about what constitute’s a one hit wonder down the years, and ultimately there is no definitive definition.
Regardless of definition, there are few acts that have been labelled with the one hit wonder term that have enjoyed longer careers than Golden Earring. Formed originally in 1961, they would go through a number of minor tweaks to their name and line up, releasing five albums through the mid to late 60s, until they settled on a stable line up that would record an eponymous album in 1970. The newly stable quartet of original members George Kooymans (guitar and vocals), Rinus Gerritsen (bass and additional instruments), with Barry Hay (vocals, guitar and flute since 1967), and new boy Cesar Zuiderwijk (drums, vaulting over said drums), have actually remained the core members of Golden Earring ever since. However in the 49 years since the release of this self titled release, Golden Earring have just one international hit single to their name, however if you are going to have just one significant international hit in nearly 60 years, just make sure it’s a stone-cold classic like “Radar Love”.
While “Radar Love” inevitably towers over the rest of Golden Earring’s career, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that they have been one of the Netherlands’ biggest bands throughout their career, and that they released a string of albums through the 70s that the majority of rock bands would be proud of. Settling on a stable line up was seemingly kickstarted this run of form, and Golden Earring was the first album in this sequence.
For fans of 70s rock, there’s much to admire on Golden Earring, as the new line up absolutely hit the ground running. “Yellow and Blue”, “The Loner”, “The Wall of Dolls”, and “I’m Going to Send my Pigeons to the Sky” are top draw rock songs, and different enough to the band’s big hit to confirm that Golden Earring were a genuinely adaptable rock band. If you’re only aware of “Radar Love” among Golden Earring’s output, then the fact that Barry Hay’s flute playing is all over this album might come of something of a surprise. Sure, Jethro Tull had been bringing flute rock to the masses for a couple of years, so why shouldn’t Golden Earring hitch themselves to that fad? Whatever the case, by the time of Moontan the band had dropped that particular heavy metal instrument.
Golden Earring are one of those bands with an extensive back catalogue that I could absolutely lose myself in if I let myself, but I get the feeling I’ll just seek out the early 70s albums for now, but who knows? Whatever the case, this band are so much more than “Radar Love”.