Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Golden Earring - "Radar Love" (1973)

Like their fellow Dutchmen The Shocking Blue and their "Venus" hit, Golden Earring put a twist on the popular hard rock genre to produce an international hit. "Radar Love" is unquestionably one of the all-time great rock "pedal to the metal" driving songs, one you cranked up nice and loud scorching the freeway. Seven minutes of made-for-air-guitar-AND-drummer ecstasy.

"Radar Love" -- from the album Moontan -- has a pulsating bass riff that is probably neck and neck in stupidity and simplicity with Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water." I've heard fifth graders play the "Smoke On The Water" riff to show off their acoustic guitar lessons, but why not "Radar Love?"

There is even a web site totally devoted to the one song "Radar Love," and the 350 versions it claims there exists!

What separates "Radar Love" from "Smoke On The Water" is that "Radar Love" absolutely grooves. That fabulous bass riff, that bomp bomp bomp bomp bomp bomp bomp bomp on the F# note, shoot up to the A, quickly down to E then back up to F# part again. You can snap your fingers to this!

No shortage of credit can go to the drummer, who spends his verses doing a fast-paced snare beat, then goes into a straight swing-type 4/4 for the chorus, and then does this absolutely twisted paradiddle deal during the extended solo break, and then goes back swinging into that trademark snare beat.

Lead singer Barry Hay, who has the only easy to pronounce name in the band, has a wicked evil voice as he's snarls, practically wills his girlfriend to appear as he's driving to see her. The band :

I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel
There's a voice in my head that drives my heel
It's my baby callin', says I need you here
And it's half past four and I'm shifting gear.

When she's lonely and the longing gets too much
She sends a cable comin' in from above
We don't need no phone at all
We've got a thing that's called radar love
We've got a wave in the air... (silent beat) radar love!

I hear horns, unheard of for a hard rock band at the time, building up the solo break and then bowing out the final chord of the song. The chorus -- "We've got a thing that's called radar love" -- shares the exact same chord structure at Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Let It Ride" chorus, so you know there's something magical about a song in F# minor.

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