Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Truck-drivin', amphetamine-poppin' heavy metal from the Netherlands?! Well, OK, it's probably something of a stretch to call this metal, certainly in today's context, but it was sure a strange song to find planted all over AM radio in the summer of 1974. Golden Earring, formed in 1961, were already veterans by then—and they are still going, by the way, nearly 50 years on. Perhaps encouraged by the example of their countrymen band Focus who had a surprise hit a year earlier, "Hocus Pocus," they took their shot. Powered by a grinding, shuffling skip-along rhythm section, "Radar Love" tells the story of a long-haul trucker eager to get back home to his baby, delivering up a guttural throbbing monologue of desire and delusion. He is feeling the psychic vibration, which may or may not be symptomatic of amphetamine psychosis: "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." Soon after that, in the long version anyway, played late at night on FM stations, the band airs it out, horn section and all. Arguably yet another example of a novelty on the radio (and no less than the third we've encountered about operating automotive machinery), I think this is actually more one that benefited from the endless repetitions of radio play. It's such a strange song, its textures and preoccupations so different from anything else, yet it right grows on you, until the careful guitar notes that launch it comes to deliver something almost like a Pavlovian punch, and the hand automatically reaches for the volume control, head bobbing. Radar love. Yeah. We've got a thing.