The Netherlands always has been a country I never completely understood. Of course, their successful drug politics are outstanding and the fact that the record store concentration feels like paradise as does the world’s biggest Record fair on its own already, held for years in Utrecht. The artistic collective “The Fool” speak for the colourful expedition a whole generation in the Netherlands took.
Here in Germany, we had communes and all this too, but rath rarely, with a completely different notation and timely massively delayed. Getting on the track of “Nederbeat” it needs to be said, that the definition umbrellas – more than I first thought. It all started way before the first Nederbeat singles appeared around 1963. Similar to the US history of music, the Netherlands had a massive Instro & Surf Rock phenomenon. Differently to the US it were Indonesian immigrants that developed a unique sound mixing Surf, Instro & Hotrod music with their Indonesian musical background. (The Netherlands had a colony in Indonesia for hundreds of years and used to run tradelines until 1949). These circumstances apparently caused a similar sonic evolution as it happened at the same time in the Staates. Out of the Surf & R’n’R mixture, a Garage Rock sound crystallised. Besides, the British Invasion happened in NL too but had been present before a well. I’m guessing the short distance and overseas trading connection to the UK explains the fast and solid transfusion of Mod to the Netherlands. Since the strong native construction of a Garage attitude, Beat was adapted and included. This led to a sound that reminds me of the Rolling Stones. Still Beat, but quite garagy. What was very welcome in the Netherbeat, was the wilder UK R&B Mod like we know it from Van Morrison’s “Them”. However there are also straight Merseybeat sounding bands to be found in Nederbeat, but they are not the majority. Considering the Freakbeat movement that Nederbeat also umbrellas, the UK influences were much bigger than one might conclude when hearing the Garage Rock. I don’t think it can be expressed in percentage, but to me, it appears quite balanced regarding these equivalent counterparts of the genre (Beat vs. Garage).
Although it’s not the lion’s share, a remarkable amount of Folk/Songwriter elements, Soul (through the Mod connection) and Pop inhabits Nederbeat. If those get their Nederbeat validation through relation or as a stable but minor element in Nederbeat is unclear. The Netherlands has been much ahead of their time than other European countries – maybe with exception of the UK. Isolated, some serious Classic Rock tracks, which would become common in the 70s, could be found in the Netherlands already years before, in the 60s. Whatever it is about the Netherlands, some progressive spirit led it to some stunning results.
In the early/mid-sixties, a Mod-like youth culture made the scene. But instead of Italian scooters, they preferred motorcycles. The fashion was quite comparable to those of the British Mods. Violence among such groups and rockers was notorious. They had their typical spots to hurt each other and to distinguish. Anyone who has seen the movie “Radio Rock Revolution” has a vibrant idea of how it must have been at the docks of the Hague’s neighbour city, that housed a pirate radio, which greyzone-legally aired the hottest new tunes from the UK and elsewhere to the insatiable youth of the Netherlands – from a boat!
Art & culture had taken room to blossom. Through the years and appearance of Flower Power turned into things like a”cosmic relaxation centre” (“Kosmies Ontspanningssentrum”) with hashpipes, workshops, magicians, impro theatre and so on …
As elsewhere also political active groups have been around. Those were called “Provos” in dependence on their non-violent way of provoking authorities to cause a public focus on certain topics. Literature, performance art, beatnik a-like culture, were the obvious characteristics of this movement. They became relevant in regards to Nederbeat when the Beat culture and they jointly were creating events (“Provodya”) that were precursors of the shortly after originating Love-In’s and Happenings, such as “Flights to Lowlands Paradise” (’67 & ’68) or ’68s “A Colourful Dream”.
The high time of Nederbeat was from ’65 till ’68. An afterwave continued till ’73/’74 morphing more and more into Psychedelic Rock and 70s Pop. While I mainly thought of Merseybeat in the beginning, I come to the resumé that the sound itself was much rawer. The more rough sound of the Rolling Stones and the beaty folk-rockin’ attitude of the early Byrds would pretty exactly match the typical Nederbeat while later doses of Freakbeat and Psych became involved. Now that I feed your brain and imagination, let me do the same to your ears by following DJ-Set.
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