Shocking Blue – Venus

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The Shocking Blue weekend is coming to a close with their biggest hit… Venus. I want to thank everyone for the positive feedback on this forgotten band over the weekend. I like some of their other songs more than this one but it is a good song.

This is one of the first songs I remember hearing. I like Shocking Blue because of their powerful lead singer Mariska Veres and the songwriting of Robbie van Leeuwen. This was their huge #1 hit Venus and it peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1970.

The group’s guitarist Robbie Van Leeuwen wrote this song. The group is from The Netherlands, which led to an interesting translation problem when Shocking Blue lead singer Mariska Veres sang the English lyrics.

Van Leeuwen wrote the first line down incorrectly what was supposed to be “A goddess on the mountain top” he wrote as “A goddness (I checked and she does say goddness) on the mountain top,” and that’s exactly how Veres sang it. the result was a #1 hit with a misspoken first line thanks to a typo.

This is from http://www.oocities.org/ofmang/greg/shblbio.html

“Venus” made Number 3 in Holland, but significantly topped the charts in several countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. The record came to the attention of a newly formed American record label, Colossus. The label’s head, Jerry Ross, signed Shocking Blue to his label and was rewarded when “Venus” hit the top there in February of 1970. Needless to say the group was hugely successful at home and had some fifty hits in Holland while their records also sold well in France and Japan.

Shocking Blue’s follow-up to “Venus”, “Mighty Joe“, made Number 1 in Holland and charted almost everywhere as its predecessor had. “Never Marry a Railroad Man” also hit top of the Holland rock chart. They continued to chart with songs like “Hello Darkness”, “Shocking You”, “Long Lonesome Road”, “Blossom Lady”, and “Inkpot”, but neither of these songs reached higher than 43rd place in the American chart.

Shocking Blue successfully combined Beat and R&B with psychedelic elements of the time like Indian sitar and odd production techniques. Robbie didn’t mind if the band included a few covers, as it took the pressure off him to constantly come up with new material. “We wrote a lot of our own stuff and the radio DJs preferred us to do original songs, but we had so many albums to do the band had to fill in with a few covers. It was quite exhausting writing all the lyrics and song myself”.

For several months in 1970-1971 Leo van de Ketterij(guitar) played with the group.

Mariska, Robbie, Cor and Klaasje stayed together for three years while they toured the world, visiting such distant lands as Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and South America. Traveling facilities were primitive compared to the sort of luxury top groups expect today, and Shocking Blue had to cover vast distances cramped together in an uncomfortable station wagon. “We never expected to be so busy”, recalls Robbie. “The whole touring business just became too tough for me.”

From Songfacts

The female vocal trio Bananarama recorded this in 1986. It was one of the first songs they started performing when they formed the band in 1979, but they wanted to record original songs first so they would be taken seriously.

Their version was produced by the team of Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who worked on hits by Rick Astley (“Never Gonna Give You Up”), Dead or Alive (“You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”) and Kylie Minogue (“I Should Be So Lucky”).

The distinctive guitar riff was taken from The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.”

This was produced by Jerry Ross, who also produced another Dutch group, Tee Set, who performed “Ma Belle Amie”. Ross also produced an album of orchestral arrangements of his (primarily) Dutch stable of hits, under the name Jerry Ross Symposium. 

In the US, both this and the Bananarama cover version reached #1, making it one of the few songs to do so. Strangely, in the UK both Shocking Blue and Bananarama reached #8 with “Venus” and both spent 13 weeks on the chart with the song. 

On an episode of the MTV cartoon Beavis And Butthead, Butthead makes up his own lyrics to this but gets frustrated when he can’t think of anything that rhymes with “Venus.”

In Shocking Blue’s home country, this never made it to #1. After its success in the States, the song was re-released but climbed no further that #3 on the Dutch pop chart.

In 1959, Frankie Avalon had a US #1 hit with the same title. There were two other instances of different songs with identical titles reaching #1 on the Billboard charts. “My Love” was #1 for Petula Clark in 1966 and another “My Love” turned the trick for McCartney & Wings in 1973. Then “Best Of My Love” topped the charts for the Eagles in 1973 and a different song of the same title was #1 for The Emotions in 1977. 

In the 1988 Full House episode “But Seriously Folks,” DJ and Kimmy, influenced by Bananarama, start a band and attempt to learn “Venus.”

Venus

A goddess on a mountain top
Burning like a silver flame
A summit of beauty and love
And Venus was her name.

She’s got it,
Yeah baby, she’s got it.
I’m your Venus,
I’m your fire at your desire.

Her weapons were her crystal eyes
Making every man mad,
Black as the dark night she was
Got what no one else had.

She’s got it,
Yeah baby, she’s got it
I’m your Venus,
I’m your fire at your desire.

Shocking Blue – I Ain’t Never

This was a cover by Shocking Blue of the Mel Tillis and  Webb Pierce song. Mel Tillis claims he wrote the song by himself but gave Pierce credit in trade of some boots that Webb Pierce owned. Mel Tillis later said that “Them old boots cost me over eight hundred thousand dollars in royalties.”

Web Pierce took the song to #2 in the Billboard Country Charts and #24 in the Billboard 100 in 1959. Mel Tillis took the song to #1 in the Billboard Country Charts and #1 in the Candian Country Charts in 1972.

Shocking Blue did a good job of the cover. A Dutch group doing country…pretty interesting.

Shocking Blue covered the song in 1972 and it was on the Inkpot album. The album has three cover songs included because guitarist and main songwriter Robbie van Leeuwen had written 3 albums in two years.

The Mel Tillis version

I Ain’t Never

Well, I ain’t never, I ain’t never
Seen nobody like you,
No, no, no, never, ever, ever
Seen nobody like you.

You call me up and say you’ll meet me at nine,
I have to hurry, hurry but I’m fair on time.
I walk right up and knock on your door,
The landlord said he ain’t here no more.

But I never, oh darling, never
See nobody like you,
But I love you, yeah, I love you,
I love you just the same.

Well, I ain’t never, I ain’t never
Seen nobody like you,
No, no, no, never, ever, ever
Seen nobody like you.

You tell me sweet things that you don’t mean,
You got me a-living in a horny dream.
You make me do things I don’t wanna do,
All friends are saying what’s a-wrong with you?

I ain’t never, oh darling, never
Seen nobody like you,
Oh, but I’ve loved you, yeah, I’ve loved you,
I’ve loved you just the same.

Shocking Blue – Never Marry A Railroad Man

I’m sounding like one of those AM radio shows…It’s going to be a Shocking Blue weekend! I’ll post some more of their songs Saturday and Sunday. This song has an unusual chorus but it is very catchy.

Shocking Blue was a Dutch rock band formed in The Hague in 1967. They were known for the song Venus which reached #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1970. “Never Marry a Railroad Man” sold over a million records and became a top-ten hit in several countries around the world.

The song is not well known in America but is a great little song. The singer was Mariska Veres who sounded a bit like Grace Slick but with a maybe stronger voice. I found this group a few years ago while listening to Venus and explored their other releases. They did have more songs than Venus that were good.

There is not much info on Shocking Blues songs but I did find a Mariska Veres fan site that has this info… http://www.oocities.org/ofmang/mariska/mariska.html

Mariska was born in Hague, Holland.. Mariska, half-Hungarian and half-German, had often sung with her father, Lajos Veres, who played violin in a gypsy orchestra. She recorded the solo singles called “Topkapi”(1965) and “Dag en nacht” (1967) and had gained experience singing with different groups before she joined Shocking Blue. How did she meet Shocking Blue?

In 1968 Shocking Blue’s manager and music publisher attended a party celebrating the success of Golden Earring’s first number one song in Holland. A band known as the Bumble Bees, fronted by the strong and striking female singer, performed at the party, and the two men thought she would be a perfect addition to Shocking Blue. Robbie van Leeuwen, leader and founder of Shocking Blue, was immediately impressed by her vocal style, quite different from most local singers of the day. When Mariska was asked to join the Shocking Blue, she requested that they (the band members) would not start any relationships with her except professional one. She replaced de Wilde as a lead singer and, no doubt, became the eye- and ear-catching attraction of the band; her soul-tingled voice gave the music a distinct R&B sound.
Mariska obviously was an attraction for many fans of SB. It’s easy to imagine how many men and boys had fallen in love with Mariska, with her mystic aura, enigmatic smile, and long black hair (which was, sadly to say, a wig). People, mostly men of course, saw her a sex-symbol, which she was, but she could never cope with it. It was a disappointment for many of her fans when in the late seventies she got rid of her sexy image starting to wear long dresses and relatively short haircut.
In spite of her fantastic look Mariska was a pretty shy, a little naive person. She could not really deal with the snobbish Robbie (guitar player): once he shouted at her, she started to cry and phoned her mother, who in return called their manager. Sounds silly, but Mariska was surely not the wild woman everybody thought she was. Mariska also was “famous” for her lifestyle: she never smoked and she did not like alcohol. During those days of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, when SB toured the world, Mariska’s most favorite drink was tea.

After Shocking Blue disbanded Mariska started her solo career, which was not successful. She recorded a dozen of solo singles but the singles did not score well although most of them sounded (and still sound) great. Probably, she was not motivated enough, lacked a good manager, and luck was not on her side. In 1978 Mariska was featured in a single “Neon City” recorded by Mistral (Robbie’s group at that time). In 1979 Robbie was planning to reunite the group. They even recorded a single called “Louise” as a part of their come back project, but for some reasons this was cancelled and “Louise” was never released. Robbie van Leeuwen said in an interview that Mariska was the only reason the come back was off, but never said why. Probably, Mariska was just fed up with all the attention and was just overworked. Maybe because of this she does not like to recall the 70’s. In the late 80’s she performed with her group “Veres”. In the early 90’s she appeared on stage with The Clarks, and, in my opinion, their performances together were great. Mariska also sang with several jazz musicians, and even recorded CD with four jazz musicians in 1993 (Mariska Veres Shocking Jazz Quintet). In the fall of 1993 she founded a new band and, with Robbie’s permission, called it Shocking Blue. They recorded a single “Body And Soul” (1994), which was produced by Robbie.

 

Never Marry A Railroad Man

Have you been broken-hearted once or twice
If it’s yes how did you feel at his first lies
If it’s no you need this good advice

Never marry a Railroad man

He loves you every now and then
His heart is at his new train. No, no, no
Don’t fall in love with a Railroad man
If you do forget him if you can
You’re better off without him ah

Have you ever been restless in your bed
And so lonely that your eyes became wet
Let me tell you then one thing

Shocking Blue – Mighty Joe

The tone of this guitar gets to me every time. This song was the follow up to the #1 Venus and this made it to #43 in the Billboard 100. They are known as a one-hit-wonder but the truth is they had other hits all over the world just not in Billboard.

This song was written by guitarist  Robbie van Leeuwen who most all of Shocking Blue’s successful songs. The band formed in 1967 and broke up in 1974. They did regroup a few times in the 80s but never had the success of this period.

The members in this period were Mariska Veres vocals, Robbie van Leeuwen guitarist, Klaasje van der Wal bass guitar and Cor van der Beek drums.

 

Mighty Joe

Be careful girls
For Mighty Joe
Be careful!
He teaches you all that don’t know
He makes you cry
Before it’s through

And I bet you like it too
Did you hear about Mighty Joe?
Did you hear about Mighty Joe?
Beware
Beware when he is around
Mighty Joe with the bass voice!

Mighty Joe was here last year
I tell you!
Just like you
I had no fear
I fell for him
Baby

And then he made of me a woman
Sweet
Sweet
Sweet thing
Sweet
Sweet
Sweet thing
I love you
Yes
I love you
I love you so bad

He took my heart and in a sense

I swear he ain’t got no sense
When I said yeah
He’s gone to town
I warn you
He will let you down
Did you hear about Mighty Joe?
Did you hear about Mighty Joe?
Beware
Beware when he is around
Mighty Joe with the bass voice!

Shocking Blue with Mariska Veres

A band out of the Netherlands with a  sensational singer named Mariska Veres had a huge hit in 1970. She sounded like Grace Slick to me…maybe a little stronger. Robbie van Leeuwen was the guitar player who wrote the songs.

Their big hit worldwide was Venus that most people have heard. They had some great songs like Never Marry a Railroad Man, Mighty Joe, Love Buzz (which Nirvana covered). They were together from 1968-1974. They were known as a one-hit wonder with Venus but their other songs were hits in the Netherlands and were very good.

They were not smooth…they were raw hence why I like them. Venus is probably my least favorite…maybe because I’ve heard it too much and it’s been covered a few times by different artists.

I like finding  artists that have been largely forgotten. I never knew about Shocking Blue…with the exception of Venus until 3 or 4 years ago. I do listen to some new music on Youtube but I like digging and finding good bands that deserve attention.To me they are new…

Mariska sadly died in 2006. With her voice, I’m shocked she didn’t have a more successful solo career.

Venus

Never Marry a Railroad Man

Mighty Joe

Love Buzz