This album is a Tribute to Robbie van Leeuwen, composer/guitarplayer/producer, of the biggest hit ever to originate from Holland: “Venus” by Shocking Blue.
All recordings on this tribute album are Robbie van Leeuwen compositions; the tracks are chosen by Robbie himself and also the running order is his choice. An unusual compilation album, indeed, with Robbie being the common denominator.
The first time I met Robbie aka Rob aka Robert van Leeuwen – he is ageless, but notwithstanding that he is 72 years old in the meantime – was backstage, in the Hague/Scheveningen, at the legendary Kurhaus concert of the Rolling Stones , on August 8, 1964.
Robbie played guitar with Ritchie Clarke &the Ricochets at the time, one of the support acts of the Rolling Stones then and there. They completed their set, but the Rolling Stones performance was their shortest ever, because of the infamous and instant riot that broke out the moment the Stones hit the stage.
Next, Robbie started the Motions who overnight came to stardom in Holland and Belgium, thanks to a couple of very big hits like “Wasted Words” ( Cees de Man was the producer) and “Why Don’t You Take it”( produced by John Stewart) , both on this tribute album and both written by Robbie van Leeuwen. 1965 and 1966 where the years of the Motions, but Robbie smelled and felt that this would not lead to the big international success he was after. Around the same time The Walker Brothers recorded one of Robbie s compositions, earlier recorded by the Motions, “My Love is Growing”. And Tee Set had their first hit with “Early in the Morning”, another Robbie van Leeuwen composition. This convinced him that he could be successful internationally, if he had the right tools.
Next, he started Shocking Blue, but that band did not happen until he found Mariska Veres, in September 1968; Mariska instantly became his muse and from “Send Me A Postcard” on, released in December 1968, things accelerated, culminating after “Long Lonesome Road” with the release of “ Venus”, in June 1969.
The rest is history as they say. “Venus” to date – is Robbies and Holland’s – biggest composition, used in many films (recently the animation film “Sing”) and in the original Shocking Blue version in the soon to be released French film “Cherchez la Femme”.
Also and probably a World record “Venus”, the song, is used Worldwide for the 15th year in a row, by Procter& Gamble for their Venus/Gillette campaigns.
Venus was also covered many times, by Bananarama (in 1986) and as part of Stars on 45, in 1981, making it the only song in history, so far, that reached number one in the USA 3 times, in 3 different versions, starting with the original Shocking Blue rendition in 1970.
Robbie picked the Tom Jones recording of “Venus” to conclude this tribute album.
Sick and tired of all the traveling Robbie quit Shocking Blue and started Galaxy Lin (1975), which resulted in one hit, “Long Hot Summer” (track 17). Intrigued by electronic music in its early days Robbie van Leeuwen then created Mistral, which brought him 2 hits, “Jaime” in 1977 and “Starship 109” in 1978.
In 2013 Robbie van Leeuwen received BUMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Dutch Hall of Fame, so to speak. And this year the Rock Art Museum
is honoring him with an exhibition titled ‘’The Connection between Shocking Blue, Motions, Mistral and Galaxy Lin”.
Indeed that is what Robbie van Leeuwen is, as this album shows.
W.J. van Kooten
Available via Bol.com