Moontan’s U.S. Alternative

ge_webGolden Earring
Moontan
MCA-396
1974
MCA Records

For the deep vinyl collector, the preferred Moontan by Golden Earring is the European/UK release, which has different jacket artwork than the U.S. release as well as a different line up of songs presented in a different order.

I recently found the U.S. version, which has the pierced ear cover. I’ll assume that this cover was chosen because artwork of a nude woman (on the Euro release jacket) was deemed too corrupting to youth in the States even in 1974.

I knew almost nothing about Golden Earring except they had a truncated hit song on U.S. radio played back in ’74 called “Radar Love,” a driving, hard rocker that was chopped from its LP length of 6:21 to a ‘single’ (radio-friendly) edit of 3:44.

This is important. That’s over two minutes of proggy intensity excised from the song, which diminishes its overall power. Radio kids in the 70s didn’t necessarily realize what they were missing because all they were familiar with was the single edit version that dominated AM radio. Those listeners were also prone to purchasing singles (45s) as opposed to full-length albums (not that different from today’s iTunes generation).

I was one of those kids.

But there were progressive rock radio stations (FM) back then that would play the full version of “Radar Love,” and if you stumbled on it, it was an ear-delicious delight (extended guitar solo break and drawn out drum chaos). But even hearing this never drove me to buy the full record.

That is until now some 42 years after the party. I recently found a pristine U.S. Moontan in a dollar bin at Half Price Books in Naperville, IL.

All I can say is that had I purchased this LP back in ’74 my life would have probably gone in a slightly different musical direction. This album, even in its U.S. rendition, is a mind-blowing and seductive excursion into “Prog” rock, a subgenre that I still can’t get my head around except extended jams, complex instrumentation and lofty lyrical content seem to be in its DNA (if you want to set me straight about Prog, feel free to use the comments section below).

Anyway, the way I hear Moontan is as a trippy, bluesy joint that gets more complex and gratifying with each listen. And its production is killer – rich, atmospheric, deep and lysergic. I wouldn’t want to hear a digital rip of this for nothing. There’s so much going on in the grooves its hard to pinpoint exact sonic revelations but they’re there. Heavy instrumentation is key and finding different modes is a psychedelic blast.

So my goal is to find the Euro release sitting in a lonely crate someday. That would be totally definitive.

© 2016 Chris Barry

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