Formed in 1967, Shocking Blue were an influential Dutch rock band from The Hague. Center stage to the groups popularity was lead singer Mariska Veres, whose powerful, exotic vocals transcended the group from a merely superb psychedelic rock group to something incredibly special. 1969's At Home
is the groups best known release, often confused for a debut but in fact their second album.
Though it is an incredible call to make it is no far stretch to say At Home
is one of the greatest rock albums of the era. Shocking Blue is rarely spoken of in the same breath as say, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones (the bands output just wasn't as longlasting and all encompassing as these groups managed to be) but they ended up scoring a gigantic hit with Venus
(everybody has heard at least one cover of it) and writing at least two strongly underrated albums along the way.
brings across a sense of the exuberant energy of the 60's, the band sounding completely fresh despite an archaic production quality. Musically, it feels quite varied though the bulk of tracks consist of the same instruments being used (guitar, bass, piano). With clever, satisfying arrangements that range from fun, mid-paced rockers (Boll Weevil
, Love Machine
, California Here I Come
, Harley Davidson
), to slower, downtempo affairs (I'll Write Your Name Through The Fire
, I'm Your Woman
) to offbeat, psychadelic experiments (Acka Raga
, Love Buzz
) the group always keeps an infectious rhythm happening. Throwing enough curveballs to the listener through guitarist Robbie van Leeuwen's electrifying leads and fills, the band never fails to be entertaining though the entire duration of At Home
. Then there is Mariska Veres to deal with.
Quite simply, she is sensational. Throughout much of the album she has a playful presence, her powerful voice full of a unique passion which perfectly compliments the energetic sounds of the band. However, it is her vocal delivery on tracks such as I'll Write Your Name Through The Fire
, Long And Lonesome Road
and California Here I Come
which creates something so achingly right
expressing it into words could do it no justice. A perfect marriage is made between the music and vocals, Veres providing an unmatched heart and soul to Shocking Blue that would be sorely lacking otherwise.
never lets up, from start to finish it is a completely engaging 60's rock album that entertains in the best way possible. Any aficionado of this particular era would do well to check it out, as well as it's follow-up Scorpios Dance