It’s always saddens me when a (in my opinion) less talented group or artist covers a song by a (again, in my opinion) more talented, but maybe less known, group or artist and makes it a hit. Harry Nillsson is the first name that comes to mind. He had it happen to him when Three Dog Night (blech!) covered his song “One.” Ever heard the song “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” by Motley Crue? Yeah, that’s a cover and it was originally recorded by this band that you have never heard of. I know the original songwriters are getting monetary compensation for their songs but it still pains me to see talented artists not getting the recognition that they deserve.
That brings me to Shocking Blue. They were a Dutch (musically that is one strike against them) psych rock group formed in 1967, but they didn’t see any measure of success til they added Mariska Veres as their lead vocalist in late 1969. In 1970 they had a number one hit with the song “Venus.” Yes, some random Dutch band had a number one hit in the U.S. and you have no idea who they are. Do you know why? Any recognition they might have received, any hold on American consciousness they might have had was utterly destroyed in 1986.
That is the year Bananarama (oh holy hell!) released their version of “Venus” and it relieved itself all over the American charts. In popular 80’s fashion, cheeseball keyboards were substituted for the original funky Hammond organ lines and Veres’ husky, bluesy vocals were replaced by three screeching, tone deaf harpies. All the soul and strength of the song were sucked out leaving only a thin new-wavey shell. It’s blasphemy!
The worst part is that Shocking Blue were out of big hits (yeah they had a couple more hits in Holland but I mean….come on). That was all they had in them and the song that should have been their legacy will now only be remembered as filler on a couple of “best of the 80’s” compilations.