Skip to main content

Golden Earring: Moontan - Album Of The Week Club review

Dutch one-hit wonders Golden Earring prove there's so much more to their arsenal than Radar Love

Golden Earring: Moontan
(Image: © Golden Earring)
Golden Earring - Moontan

(Image credit: Golden Earring)

Candy's Going Bad
Are You Receiving Me
Suzy Lunacy (Mental Rock)
Radar Love
Just Like Vince Taylor
Vanilla Queen

Leaving aside any bias over one of ’70s rock’s most overplayed, albeit significant, hit singles, Moontan was the album that brought the Dutch band Golden Earring’s progressive leanings right to the surface.

You can hear what’s in store on the opening track Candy’s Going Bad, which kicks off in the style of an early-70s heavy rocker, but expands to become a much moodier piece more in keeping with Van der Graaf Generator. OK, so that might be a fluke, but how do you then explain Are You Receiving Me? It’s a cosmic, Hawkwind-style excursion; a 10-minute psychedelic journey in which the technical brilliance of guitarists George Kooymans and Eelco Gelling is augmented by plunging saxophone notations from Bertus Borgers.

However, Moontan’s crowning glory is the song Vanilla Queen, a sumptuous epic that encourages every strength in the band to come through. Rinus Gerritsen’s use of synthesiser washes acknowledges a krautrock influence, while the way in which solo acoustic guitar is used as the fulcrum in one passage and the way the instrumental juxtapositions build are clearly inspired by Mike Oldfield.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

Join the group now.

Background

Formed as long ago as 1961, Golden Earring enjoyed a golden period from the late 60s onwards, touring with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and King Crimson among others.

But it was Moontan was that broke the Dutch band in America, where it was originally released with a different cover and track listing. It made the Top 20, and is still regarded by many fans as their finest work. 

It shows off their dedication to innovation and disregard for conformity. Golden Earring were prepared to be both progressive and accessible, and had the ability to tie both ends of these different musical strands together.

Other albums released in July 1973

  • Life and Times - Jim Croce
  • A Passion Play - Jethro Tull
  • Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - Bob Dylan
  • Queen - Queen
  • Genesis Live - Genesis
  • Love Devotion Surrender - Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin
  • Mott - Mott the Hoople
  • Foreigner - Cat Stevens
  • Tres Hombres - ZZ Top
  • New York Dolls - New York Dolls
  • 10cc - 10cc
  • Berlin - Lou Reed
  • Countdown to Ecstasy - Steely Dan
  • Grand Funk: We're An American Band
  • Styx II - Styx
  • Whatever Turns You On - West, Bruce and Laing

What they said...

"These tunes benefit from tight arrangements and a spirited, totally committed performance from the group. The result is an album that retains its power today. In the end, Moontan is a necessity for Golden Earring fans, and a worthwhile listen for anyone interested in 1970s rock at its most adventurous." (AllMusic)

"All things aside the hideously dated and off colour artwork considered, Moontan is a legitimately great album, and it certainly retains its charm today, particularly for those of us that are partial to classic rock. While Golden Earring are not a band who are name dropped with any regularity, many of their albums, and particularly Moontan, deserve to be reassessed as rock classics." (Backseat Mafia)

"This is an album for depressed, balding middle aged men who stagnate in their rumpus rooms behind a disused pool table, swimming with flies and their own filth, as they shoot back more beers in a desperate attempt to forget the traumas of ageing and their ageing wives." (Tomymostalas)

What you said...

Marco LG: I admit this was my first time listening to Moontan, or Golden Earring in general in fact. At least two songs were known to me through cover versions: Candy’s Going Bad was recorded by The Godz in 1978 and Radar Love was recorded by White Lion in 1989. There is a third song by Golden Earrning I am familiar with which is not on this album, a cover by Iron Maiden of Kill Me (Ce Soir). Once established that the band, and this album in particular, have influenced many of my favourite bands it became clear why the whole album sounded so familiar, in a very good way.

There is a lot to like about Moontan, starting from the unforgettable tunes and the stunning musicianship, all the way through to the production and the arrangements. This is a very ‘elegant’ album, I love the vocal harmonies, the guitar work and the impressive rhythm section.

There are however also aspects of this album I find less enjoyable, and it’s all to do with the structure of the songs. There is nothing wrong in having sections of a song where the instruments wonder around a bit like in a ‘jam’ session, but usually this is followed by a reprise of the main themes before bringing the tune to a conclusion. In this album such reprise often never happens, leaving the listener with the impression the songs were either incomplete or overstayed their welcome. Either way, it’s not a small flaw for an album so good.

Highlights of the album for me are The Vanilla Queen, Are You Receiving Me and of course Radar Love. A solid 8/10  for me.

Warren Bubb: Great album from a criminally under-rated band. If you like this check out To The Hilt and Contraband.

Jonathan Novajosky: Outside of Radar Love, I found Moontan to be very unmemorable, bland and uninspired.  I didn't love the vocals at any point and most of the songs (even Radar Love) overstay their welcome. It's never bad by any means, but I am very unlikely to return to this one. 4/10

Rick Anderson: Love this one. I always thought it just had so many good songs on it, that when they followed it up people in the US weren't at all impressed. Maybe if they had held back Candy's Going Bad and released that as a single off their new album a year or 18 months after Moontan, they'd have had a little more success in the US.  I think this is one of Classic Rock's better offerings.

Mark Tucker: What a weird schizophrenic album! Proggy, psychedelic, hints of The Who and a Stones vibe. Obviously Radar Love is a classic, but it sits in this album like the sober guy at a party while everyone else is stoned, pissed and out of their heads! I prefer The Godz version of Candy's Gone Bad rather than the slightly trippy one here. Overall, very interesting. Would I now buy it or even play it again? Maybe. 7/10

Brian Anderson: Wow! A completely new album for me for which I didn’t have high hopes when I saw there were only six songs. I nearly gave up at track 2: nine minutes long and a bit of a filler, but hey, there was still that most classic of classic rock songs to come. I carried on, eventually getting to the final track The Vanilla Queen, another nine minute opus. Double wow, an absolutely amazing track which I haven’t stopped playing. I now know where R.E.M. got their inspiration from for their track Leave on New Adventures In Hifi. The remaining three songs are decent enough, the sound of the whole album is a bit dated, but overall it’s a good listen.

Iain Macaulay: I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed listening to that. All I’d ever heard was Radar Love. Yes, it sounds slightly dated but the production is so crisp and clear and quite uplifting. There is so much going on style-wise in the tracks but it all fits together. Mixing Stonsey sleaze with a huge trippy vibe. And the album works great as a whole listen. That said, I could bypass Suzy Lunacy on occasion. Great idea but it doesn’t quite gel like the rest. Quite impressed to read the bands history too and how many albums they’ve released. A pleasant Saturday morning listen.

Carl Black: Loved this album. Perviously I've only heard Radar Love. So when this popped up it reminded me of Europe and Survivor. One-hit wonders with so-so albums. Refreshingly, the hit single is the weakest on the album, but still a banger at the same time. The first side is brilliant. Well thought-out jams and interesting sound arrangements. This kept me engaged and listening to the end. I'll be having another spin of this.

Maria Olivia: 70's hard rock! So good! I didn't know this band, but I just loved this album! Great choice.

E Austin McGuire: This is why I joined. Was into other music during this period. Golden Earring was a one hit wonder with Radar Love on everyone's list early 70's. This group pushes me to go beyond my comfort or familiarity level. Without getting too technical, I give it 7 outta 10.. solid rock LP.

Randy Banner: Like Grand Funk Railroad last pick, this is another selection that I was only familiar with the band based on one song (Radar Love, and more familiar with the White Lion version that was released when I was a teen). 

The opening track, Candy's Going Bad, comes strong out of the gate and my interest never really wavered. The highlight of the album for me was Are You Receiving Me?. A bit long but never boring, and I love the instrumental break in the middle. The next track, Suzy Lunacy was just an ok song for me. Not terrible, but just not very memorable. 

Radar Love is a great track for blasting while driving, and Just Like Vince Taylor has a definite Stones vibe to it. Vanilla Queen closes things out with a long, progressive journey that showcases every members musicality. Bass and drums are very heavy in the mix on this album, something which appeals to me greatly. This will definitely be getting repeat listens, and I like it well enough to see what other treats the Golden Earring discography holds for me. 8/10

John Davidson: Other than Radar Love, Golden Earring were a new listen for me. They sound very much like an early 70s rock'n'roll band, with hints of Wishbone Ash , BOC and others in the mix. They're at their best when they are ambitious (particularly on Are you Receiving Me? and Vanilla Queen) but the album is let down by a couple of second-rate glam rockers in Suzy Lunacy and Vince Taylor.

Roland Bearne: Growing up in Benelux I encountered Golden Earring in early teens, I always knew I liked them but never got more than a couple of "best-ofs". This is a stunner. Every instrument sounds beautiful and the production is fresh as a polders daisy! Serious love and craftsmanship at work here. 

I never realised quite how long they have been around so by the time they were working on this they were well over ten years into the journey. Its not just the sound though; Candy's Going Bad sets the scene perfectly, a killer riff, cracking song craft with an immediately mime along chorus then a wonderous detour into almost Prog instrumental territory before being pulled back in by the sheer attraction of the song. 

And so it goes on over six stunningly crafted tracks. Golden Earring are an institution and if they were from the UK or USA they would be much more famous and lauded. This is lovely, now I need to spend more money on finding a vinyl copy. Nice.

Final Score: 7.42 ⁄10 (189 votes cast, with a total score of 1404)

Join the Album Of The Week Club on Facebook to join in. The history of rock, one album at a time.