My heart froze a little today when I read about Saturday's death of Mariska Veres. She was the lead singer of one of the best Euro-rock bands of the early 70s, The Shocking Blue. But, even more importantly, she was my first rock-star crush thanks to the video for Venus (YouTube link) that I saw on TV at an impressionable age.
Not only did Mariska have an amazing voice, but something about her presence was just hypnotizing. No, it wasn't her breasts, thank you. I was actually more enthralled by her wild 60s hair. That and her Gypsy heritage - which is always pretty hot. (I was going to say unless you're Stevie Nicks, but, nah, I used to think she was pretty hot as well.)
Anyway, being a child of the 80s I first heard the cheesy Bananarama version of Venus (which came just a few years after it was also included in the massive Stars on 45). Thanks to that hit version, the original started resurfacing. Then other songs crept into my periphery: a friend put Ink Pot on a mix tape, a college radio DJ spun Love Buzz for me after I gushed about the Nirvana single, Send Me a Postcard popped up on a compilation by Ladytron. All of these songs blew me away, and before I knew it I was a full-blown Shocking Blue fan.
If you don't know the non-Venus side of The Shocking Blue, try their first album, At Home. It is pop-rock confection all the way through, and while it's loaded with the early hits my favorite song is the bonus-track B-side Harley Davidson (mp3). We need more Dutch biker songs! (Mariska and the band hail from The Haugue, Holland.)
Just last month a Shocking Blue fan (who also runs an amazing Euro Disco web archive that is almost worth it's own post) put a slew their videos on YouTube:
Never Marry a Railroad Man Shocking You Ink Pot Mighty Joe Blossom Lady Navajo Tears Hello Darkness (fan video) and here is another version of Venus (rare)
After Mariska left the Shocking Blue she had a solo hit in 1975, Take Me High. By 1978 Shocking Blue's co-founder and songwriter Robbie Van Leeuwen and Mariska were back together with a Euro-Disco outfit called Mistral. Check out their song Neon City. It will make you giddy with chessy satisfaction, and has become my favorite clip today.