You’ve heard of the British Invasion, right? Well, ‘the Dutch Invasion’ that followed did not exactly storm the beaches of the USA (outside of hit singles by Shocking Blue, Golden Earring and the Tee Set), but the music produced in the Netherlands by bands like the Outsiders, Q65, the Zipps and the Motions, among many others, rivals any UK rock & roll of that era. Richie Unterberger digs deep into the Dutch Beat treasure chest, sparked by two massive releases of ‘Nuggets’ in 2019. He talks with Mike Stax, the Ugly Things editor who compiled the liner notes, about these classics, which sound as good today as they did when they were recorded.
By the time most English-speaking listeners heard ‘60s Dutch rock, the ‘60s were over. Entering the U.S. Top 20 the last week of 1969 (and the UK Top 20 six weeks later), Shocking Blue’s “Venus” topped the American charts. Many and maybe most British and American consumers didn’t even know the band were from Holland, especially since Shocking Blue failed to land another sizable hit in those territories. The same fate befell another Dutch outfit, the Tee Set, who hit the Top 5 a couple months later with “Ma Belle Amie.” There would be no Dutch Invasion, wild hopes of some of the region’s boosters to the contrary.
Few of even the most avid English-speaking rock fans were aware that far from being one-hit wonders, both Shocking Blue and the Tee Set had many hits in the Netherlands, Shocking Blue also scoring high on the charts in several other European countries on multiple occasions. Nor were the two bands that representative of the fertile Dutch rock scene. Literally dozens of groups from the Netherlands made fine and, usually, rawer records. Indeed, some of them challenged the toughest British freakbeat and American garage discs for sheer lunatic frenzy.
My own introduction to what’s now called Dutch Beat by American and British collectors came in 1983, when I took a chance on a best-of compilation by the Outsiders. No, not the “Time Won’t Let Me” guys – they were from Cleveland. These were the real Outsiders, if you define outsiders as rockers on the edge. At times they recalled a rawer Pretty Things (who themselves sounded like a rawer early Rolling Stones in their early days), though tempered with a melancholy, folky melodicism that put their own spin on the sound. Branching into psychedelia (as indeed the Pretty Things also did), the Outsiders almost defined psych-punk on 1968’s strange and compelling CQ album before splitting as the ‘60s wound down. They were the best ‘60s rock band from a non-English-speaking country, though in common with almost every other Dutch group, they sang entirely in English.
If that assertion is mocked as the rough equivalent of fielding the best hockey team in the Sahara, that speaks more to an ignorance of the wealth of fine bands from non-English-speaking rockers throughout the world than it does to the genuinely high quality of the Outsiders’ music. Or, for that matter, ignorance of the many cool acts from Holland alone. Derivative as many may have been of overseas rock trends (especially British Invasion bands), they also developed a distinctly regional sound that wasn’t mere imitation British R&B. The Dutch bands added a distinctively morose, sullenly rebellious attitude that carried a massive chip on its shoulder. Bluesy guitar and harmonica riffs were twisted into something strangely sinister, as was the English language, even if that might have had as much to do with writing in English as a second language as deliberate lyricism.
If no other Dutch band quite matched the heights of the Outsiders, there were plenty who staked their own recognizably moody territory. Les Baroques were something of a Dutch Them, combining Gary O’Shannon’s Van Morrison-styled vocals with spooky organ and vibrating guitar lines. Their pessimism could make the Outsiders seem like sunshine boys, heavy on minor-key pop-blues tunes with rants of romantic disappointment and gloomy frustration, sometimes dotted by strange polka-ish horns. Heavier, if less subtle, than the Outsiders, Q65 also gained a sizable (if very belated) overseas following with their brand of grinding, oft-grim bluesy rock.
The Dutch bands added a distinctively morose, sullenly rebellious attitude that carried a massive chip on its shoulder.
Breezy pop that owed more to Merseybeat than freakbeat was also part of the Dutch scene, if not as memorably as the more R&B-infested sector. The Golden Earrings, who’d have a global hit with “Radar Love” in the mid-1970s (as Golden Earring), were among the better such combos, issuing quite a few records in the previous decade, putting out their first LP in 1965. There were good pop-rock one-offs like the Sound Magics’ mighty catchy “Don’t You Remember,” one of several Dutch ‘60s tracks on Nuggets II, the fine box set of freakbeat-garage-styled cuts from outside the U.S.
But it’s those punky, R&B-ish mutations that have gained Dutch Beat worldwide renown, if more on a cult level than the relatively above-ground resurgence of the likes of the Velvet Underground and Nick Drake. As in the U.S., many such groups did just one or two singles without making even much of a regional dent, let alone an international one. But as in the U.S., a number of gems are on those rare 45s, cut with the spontaneous verve of guys – usually boys, really – unafraid to not only let it all hang out, but to vent their spleens, as if they’d never have another chance. Which, in some cases, they never did.
I was barely in my twenties when I began seeking out Dutch Beat in the early 1980s. No one else I knew shared my interest. Finding anything, even on low-budget collections and shady various-artist compilations, was so difficult you often had to mail-order the reissues, even if you were living in big cities with some of the country’s finest record stores. Gradually more such anthologies started to appear – three in Pebbles’ international “The Continent Strikes Back” series alone. In the CD era, many rarities suddenly become easily available.
Still, I never thought I’d see the day when there were entire compilations of Outsiders outtakes – a double CD, in fact. Even when that came out a quarter century ago, I never dreamed there would be an eight-CD box of Dutch Beat. But this summer, that day came with Pseudonym’s Diggin’ in the Goldmine: Dutch Beat Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Dutch Beat Era and Beyond. Nor did that box even stick with the most well-known tracks and acts, offering many rarities that had seldom or never been heard even by Dutch beat collectors, whether by the “big names” like the Outsiders or no-names who made just one or two 45s that are impossible to find. What’s more, an eight-CD box of one of the top ‘60s Dutch psychedelic groups, Group 1850 (Purple Sky), was issued at the same time, augmenting their two core LPs with singles, live recordings, and even a super-rare album of near-musique concrete avant-garde outings by leader Peter Sjardin.
While the Dutch Beat Nuggets box isn’t as strong or consistent as the two Nuggets boxes that are the kind of standard-bearers for the ‘60s garage/freakbeat genres, they document a vibrant scene that wasn’t just raw punk, though it’s heavily represented. Acid folk, blue-eyed soul, guitar pop, hard rock, and other offshoots are also on board, testifying to the incredible productivity of a country that didn’t really get its rock into gear until 1965 or 1966.
The box set is enhanced by a large book of photos, memorabilia, and liner notes by Mike Stax, editor and publisher of the top ‘60s rockzine, Ugly Things. One of the first writers and historians to champion Dutch Beat to an English-speaking readership, Stax discussed the box and the music at length with me shortly after Dutch Beat was released in mid-2019. Hans van Vuuren of Pseudonym, who conceived and compiled the box, also chipped in with a few comments.
PKM: I might be wrong, but I think you were the first person to write extensively in the English language about Dutch ‘60s beat, starting in the 1980s in Ugly Things. You’re certainly the first I’m aware of, and if there were others, you must have at least been among the first. How did you find out about Dutch beat, and what made you want to hear and learn more?
Mike Stax: In 1982, I received a couple of mix tapes from the editors of Gorilla Beat fanzine in Germany. Along with a bunch of German beat rarities by groups like the Rattles and the Boots, there were a few tracks by some Dutch bands, including “That’s Your Problem” by the Outsiders and “I’ve Got Misery” by the Motions—both of which I instantly loved. I think that was my first real exposure to Dutch Beat. About a year later I was at a record store in San Diego and I came across a reissue of Q65’s Revolution LP. Based on the way the band looked and the songs they covered, I took a chance and bought it. The album really blew me away. I published the first issue of Ugly Things soon afterwards and a short article on Q65 was the first thing I wrote for it. After that I tried to seek out as much Dutch Sixties beat as I could—starting with Q65 and the Outsiders. Much of this was accomplished by trading cassette tapes and vinyl with friends in the Netherlands.
They were the best ‘60s rock band from a non-English-speaking country, though in common with almost every other Dutch group, they sang entirely in English.
PKM: You know more about ‘60s beat/garage/psych from around the world than almost anyone. What do you think makes Dutch beat distinctive from the other music of this type and time that was coming from the UK and the US, and indeed from many other countries?
Mike Stax: One of the most striking aspects of Dutch Beat to me is its originality. In most other countries, bands looked to British and American sources for their material so they tended to be more derivative. Most of the Dutch groups wrote and played their own material. Producers and record companies appear to have actively encouraged this practice, and this open-mindedness resulted in a huge number of unique and interesting records. Also, most young Dutch people were quite well-educated and relatively fluent English speakers, so the vast majority of Dutch beat records were sung in English and often had quite original and inventive lyrics.
The emergence of a new generation of young musicians was part of a seismic shift that was taking place in Dutch society at the time. Old, conservative, religious values were being questioned or rejected outright, and a new, more bohemian mind set was taking over. Of course, this was happening all around the world, but in the Netherlands this transformation appeared to be taking place at a more accelerated tempo. Young people were making their voices heard, creating their own art, having sex, and smoking marijuana and hashish. This new sense of freedom was reflected in the music and the lyrics.
PKM: Some of Dutch beat’s most distinguishing trademarks are a raunchiness that, somewhat like the Pretty Things, could take the British Invasion sound to its rawer and sometimes zanier extremes. Would you agree/disagree?
Mike Stax: I would agree to some extent. Certainly this is true of the work of bands like Q65, the Bintangs, the Outsiders, and Cuby + Blizzards, all of which started out as young, untrained musicians who naturally played in a rough-edged style that placed a higher importance on feel and energy than more conventional notions like tempo and tuning. All of these bands had rowdy, fiercely loyal followers who encouraged this approach at their live performances, and this translated onto most of their early records, too. On the other hand, there were also many other groups, like the Golden Earrings or Sandy Coast, who pursued a somewhat more sophisticated melodic style.
PKM: Also, would you agree that one of its trademarks is often (though by no means always) a moodiness that borders on the morose, sometimes even melodramatically so?
Mike Stax: I would definitely agree with that statement. The Outsiders are especially good example of that with melancholy songs like “Sun’s Going Down,” “Monkey On Your Back” and “Afraid of the Dark.”
PKM: The liner notes to Pebbles Vol. 15: The Continent Lashes Back! The Netherlands 1965-1968 have the tongue-in-cheek comment, “Besides their knack for British pop and primitive R&B, the Dutch were masters of the blues, as befits a country with no black people and the highest standard of living in Europe.” Accuracy of that statement aside, how do you account for Dutch rockers’ proficiency in and passion for the form?
Mike Stax: That line written by Greg Shaw always cracked me up, too—although it’s not really accurate. Most of the Dutch beat musicians came from working class or lower middle class backgrounds. They were born at the end of World War II, their parents having suffered through the years of the Nazi occupation; it took many years for the country to rebuild itself to the high standard of living Shaw refers to. I think young Dutch musicians like Cuby + Blizzards, the Bintangs and Q65 related to the blues in the same way that their counterparts did in the UK. They loved its rawness and its authenticity, and when it spoke of oppression, they related it to their own experiences as any empathetic listener would. As with many young musicians, the blues was a starting point from which they could build their own original sound. Some bands, like Q65, expanded out into new directions, others, such as Cuby + Blizzards, the Bintangs, and Livin’ Blues, stuck closer to the original form, but always with some interesting twists. They were far less reverential than some of the English and American blues bands.
PKM: Dutch ‘60s rock is much more widely available to international listeners, on both various-artists compilations and single-artists comps by the likes of the Outsiders, than it was when I (and I think you) started trying to find it around 1983. It’s probably easier to find now than ever, and even much easier than it was back in the 1960s. But there’s never been a Dutch beat comp nearly on the scale of Dutch Beat Nuggets, both in its eight-CD size and its packaging. What motivated the Pseudonym label to embark on such a huge project?
Mike Stax: It was Hans van Vuuren at Pseudonym who came up with the concept of a huge box set of Dutch Beat music. His label already had a huge catalogue of releases documenting the Dutch beat and rock scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, so he is deeply immersed in the history of the genre, as well as knowing where and how to license all of the material. The Dutch Beat Nuggets box set was an opportunity to gather together some of the lesser-known—or completely unknown—Dutch beat releases, mostly from 45s, along with some of the more well-known bands.
PKM: Even with eight CDs, there’s so much material worth considering that it no doubt had to be selective. What was it aiming for in the scope, quality, and perhaps rarity of what you wanted to include?
Mike Stax: I think Hans could answer this question better than I could as he selected all of the tracks with only limited input from me. However, one of the ideas behind the box was to feature tracks that hadn’t been reissued before or had only appeared previously in sub-par sound quality on bootleg releases.
Hans van Vuuren: The major labels EMI (up to 2013) and Universal (both including their sub-labels) [have] done many ‘60s releases, so repeating them would make no sense. The main focus was on the other labels, private labels, some rarities, unreleased tracks/versions, good sound quality, and give the golden beat period a face by the extensive 204-page Dutch Beat Nuggets book.
PKM: Although there’s a lot of what might be called “trademark” Dutch beat – the R&B/pop fusion, surliness, weird twists of British R&B, etc. – on the box, I think a lot of people might be surprised by the stylistic range. There’s some pop, soul, and woman-sung tracks. There are some standouts that fall well outside the Dutch beat stereotype, like Nona’s weird folk “The Other Side of the Mountain”; Roek’s Family’s “Get Yourself a Ticket,” which is slightly risqué pop that’s almost like a more rock-oriented “Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus”; and Phoenix’s very credible Hendrix tribute/emulation “Ode to Jimi Hendrix,” the last track on the box. How important/satisfying was it for you to include these?
Mike Stax: I’m pleased that Hans chose to represent some of these more esoteric tracks. What people have termed Nederbiet or Dutch Beat encompasses a diverse range of styles, and I think it was important to represent that. By sequencing the box set chronologically, we can also hear how the music evolved and diversified between 1965 and 1970. Even without the liner notes the box set tells a fascinating story.
PKM: Were there any tracks you discovered in the course of assembling the compilation that were especially exciting for you?
Mike Stax: I have a pretty extensive collection of Dutch beat, but there were a handful of tracks that I don’t remember hearing before that really grabbed me, such as “Life” by the Nameless, a rare single with a lovely melodic innocence to it, and “A Wondering Man” by the Twilight Kids. There were also some songs I rediscovered such as the incredible single by Dat En Wat (“I Can Live Without You” b/w “Dead Man Blues”), a group of small town teenagers who were heavily inspired by the Outsiders, and the crazed “Gosh, I’m Your Woman Not Your Wife” by the Selfkick, a long-time favorite, but one I’d never heard in premium sound quality before.
PKM: There’s also a little more hard rock than some purists might expect, especially on the later discs. Like the Dream’s “Rebellion,” which as you point out in your notes has some killer organ and guitar. It’s not mentioned in the notes, but the drumming’s really unusual and excellent, starting with a pattern (which recurs sometimes) that’s really complex and not easy to duplicate. How do you think this track and some others might reflect how Dutch beat was changing as the decade ended?
Mike Stax: That Dream song is outstanding and is extremely popular with DJs on the mod scene because of its driving dance beat and prominent Hammond organ. It’s also a good illustration of how much the music had evolved by the end of the decade, in part because of the availability of larger and more powerful equipment. It’s a completely different sound to their debut single, “Highway to Heaven,” also included on the box set, recorded a couple of years later when the group was called Mother’s Love.
PKM: It’s amazing how quickly Dutch beat formed in the mid-‘60s. Some of the early efforts on Disc One are tentative, but within just a year things were roaring. The liner notes in the book go through this to some extent, and in different ways, this was happening throughout the world. Still, do you have any thoughts as to how it exploded so quickly in the Netherlands?
Mike Stax: One reason Dutch Beat got off to such a fast and explosive start is that an active music scene [was] in place in the early ‘60s in the form of the Dutch-Indo groups, these being primarily instrumental rock ‘n’ roll combos formed by Indonesian immigrants, but also featuring young Dutch musicians. Many of the bands and musicians from that scene made the switch to beat music virtually overnight, especially in The Hague, which was the flashpoint for the Dutch beat movement. Also pirate radio stations and national music magazines like Muziek Expres were very supportive of the homegrown music scene so word traveled fast about new releases and new bands.
PKM: An eight-CD (or even bigger) set can’t include everything, of course, even taking into account it had to be selective for bands who recorded a lot of material, like the Outsiders, Les Baroques, Group 1850, Golden Earrings, and Q65. Were there some artists/cuts Pseudonym wanted to include, but couldn’t for licensing or other reasons? There isn’t anything by Shocking Blue, to cite the most prominent absentee, although some of the members are represented by efforts with earlier bands (including a rare 1964 acetate by Les Mystéres on which Mariska Veres sang).
Mike Stax: I believe there were a few choices that couldn’t be licensed, but Hans could answer this more specifically. One obvious one is “Not To Find,” the withdrawn B-side of the second Golden Earrings single. As I wrote in the liner notes, the band has attempted to write that song out of their history entirely, and they control their catalog so it has never been reissued.
Hans van Vuuren: We got all our requests cleared and dropped a few tracks because the sound quality was not good enough. The Dutch Beat history includes so many unknown good tracks that never hit the charts. The idea behind it is to bring a high-quality compilation out that is different than has been done in the past [that] included the big names. Les Mystéres with Mariska Veres (taken from the master tape) and The Sect with [Shocking Blue drummer] Cor van Beek is more of interest than Shocking Blue[‘s] “Venus,” [which] has been on every compilation around the world. The major labels re-releasing the ‘60s singles on compilations [have] been doing this for 90% in stereo mix, but [on] these recordings we’re nearly all mono mixes. What you hear on this compilation are the original single mono mixes. For example, the Golden Earrings’ “Please Go” has been released for the first time as a mono mix since [its] single release in 1965.
PKM: Even with a set this size, there are probably particular favorites some collectors are already complaining about getting omitted. Here’s mine. Sound Magics’ “Don’t You Remember” is a really outstanding minor-keyed beat number, like a collision of elements of the Zombies, Merseybeat, and the Beau Brummels. Was that passed over because of licensing problems, or just not pursued
Mike Stax: That single is one of my favorites too—which is why I personally nominated it for inclusion on Rhino’s Nuggets II box set. As that box set sold a lot of copies, we figured many people would already have that song in their collections. One of the purposes of this box was to make available tracks that had never been reissued before.
PKM: The book accompanying the box has an astonishing amount of pictures, memorabilia, and original release reproductions. It’s particularly striking how many of the discs got picture sleeves – almost all of them, even ones that had very limited pressings. Do you know why there were so many picture sleeves, considering how small the market was for most of the releases, and that single picture sleeves were uncommon in the UK, a much bigger and hugely more influential market?
Mike Stax: In the Netherlands, as with the rest of continental Europe, it was standard practice to issue singles with picture sleeves. It made sense, of course, because it was another way of enticing potential buyers, giving them an idea of what the music might sound like before they bought the record. It appears that the UK music industry was more conservative when it came to releasing and marketing singles; only EPs were issued with picture sleeves there. Anyway, for collectors today, the picture sleeves make these Dutch beat singles even more desirable as they tell part of the story behind the music—the photos of those bands are in some cases the only images that exist of them so there’s a real magic about them. That’s also one of the reasons that all the picture sleeves are reproduced in the book.
PKM: With just a few exceptions (singles by the Shocking Blue and the Tee Set, most notably, and ‘70s efforts by veterans who went on to Golden Earring and Focus), Dutch ‘60s rock made little impact outside of Holland, and virtually none in the U.S. and UK. What do you think were the disadvantages of trying to break into the international market?
Mike Stax: The main disadvantage is that the market was already saturated with successful bands from the UK and the USA. It would have been extremely difficult for a band from Holland to compete in that forum. Firstly I think many people in English-speaking countries had a prejudice against “foreign” bands singing in English, and conversely, I believe many of the Dutch musicians felt a certain inferiority complex back then, singing in a second language and perhaps feeling—wrongly—that their own work couldn’t measure up to British and American acts. So for the most part, the continental European scene was quite insulated from the rest of the world. Many Dutch bands toured Germany, Belgium, France and Italy, and released records there, but I can’t think of any that tried to break through in the UK, although several bands, such as the Motions, went to London to record. As for the USA—that must have seemed like a very distant and unreachable place for Dutch groups in the mid-‘60s, although that would change later.
PKM: Along the same lines, though this English-as-foreign-language sometimes led to awkward phrasing, sometimes the material is interesting precisely because of that. You hear that in the Selfkick’s “Gosh! I’m Your Woman Not Your Wife,” for example, or the Zipps singing bluntly about “Marie Juana.” Would you agree/have any thoughts about that?
Mike Stax: Yes, this is part of the appeal of some of these records. The lyrics sometimes use unconventional phrases leading to some interesting and unintentionally inventive lyrics—instant beat poetry! As you pointed out, it also gave some groups the freedom to sing about controversial topics or use slang words on their records that slipped by the authoritarians in charge but were heard loud and clear by their fans. So you had the Zipps singing openly about marijuana and Benzedrine, Q65 having a huge hit single with a song that celebrated smoking dope (“The Life I Live”), and the Outsiders singing about a junkie friend who “only believed in shit” (“Monkey On Your Back”). Also, both Q65 and Mother’s Love used the word “fuck” on their records in 1966 and 1967 (multiple times and clear as day in the case of Q65!) without anyone kicking up a fuss—something that would’ve been unthinkable in the UK or the USA at the time.
PKM: Even when the language is pretty awkward, as in the Dream’s “Rebellion,” I think it sometimes that’s not an issue if the obvious intention/point comes through, as it does with the questioning of authority/reality in that song. Again, would you agree/have any thoughts about that?
Mike Stax: Rock ‘n’ roll has never been about grammar, diction or the correct use of the English language, it’s the passion behind it that counts. I’m sure Elvis, Little Richard, Mick Jagger, and Iggy Pop would concur.
PKM: Collector nerd question: On a tape a collector made for me back in the mid-1980s, Les Baroques’ “She’s Mine” has horn overdubs. The track on the box set, and on my Such a Cad: The Complete Story of Les Baroques two-CD comp, doesn’t have those horn overdubs. The Les Baroques discography in the eighth issue of Ugly Things doesn’t mention different versions of “She’s Mine,” or even that it was issued on LP as well as a single. Do you know anything about this?
Mike Stax: Well spotted. The original single version has the horn overdubs. Ron de Bruijn compiled that two-CD set in 1993 and he explained to me that there are two master tapes for that song, one with horns and one without. The master tape with the horns is a single reel with just that one song; the other master is a larger reel compiling many other songs by Les Baroques. The larger reel appears to have become the “go to” master at this point for some reason. Personally, I prefer the version without the horn overdub.
PKM: An unusual feature of the liner notes are the rarity values for the original discs on which the tracks appeared, some of which are in the several hundreds of Euros. How big of a collector market is there for Dutch beat now, and how/why has it grown in the past few decades?
Mike Stax: Hans wanted to include the current market values of the original records to give people an idea of their rarity and show how it would be close to impossible to track down and purchase all the original pressings of these records. The collector market for Dutch beat, like any niche genre, is small but dedicated. It’s grown in the past few decades as collectors from outside of the Netherlands became aware of the wealth of great music from there.
Rock ‘n’ roll has never been about grammar, diction or the correct use of the English language, it’s the passion behind it that counts. I’m sure Elvis, Little Richard, Mick Jagger, and Iggy Pop would concur.
PKM: As a related question, often very distinctive forms of regional music are relatively unappreciated in their lands of birth. When I first visited Amsterdam in the late 1980s, record stores had hardly any of this stuff, and more surprisingly (many Dutch Beat originals are after all pretty rare), there seemed to be virtually no interest in Dutch ‘60s music within Holland itself. That was also true of, say, Merseybeat when I first went to Liverpool in the early ‘90s, and even of San Francisco psychedelia when I moved to the Bay Area in 1983. How is Dutch beat now perceived/appreciated in Holland itself?
Mike Stax: Hans could answer that question better than I can. I’ve certainly observed the same thing you describe. For example, back in the ‘80s I was in contact with several collectors in Germany, and some of them were almost embarrassed by the beat records from their country—again, some kind of perceived inferiority complex based on singing in a second language. In Holland, though, even then, there was a small core of collectors who were discovering and championing Dutch Beat—people like Ron de Bruijn, Eric Meinen, Ron Swart, and Jim Wynand. They played a major role in spreading Dutch beat to collectors around the world.
Hans van Vuuren: Dutch Beat is highly appreciated in The Netherlands. In the late ‘80s, it started with various record fairs and releases. These days [there are] many collectors visiting record shops/fairs, Facebook groups. Various Dutch bands are influenced by the ‘60s, and tribute bands [are] all over.
PKM: And how is it now perceived around the world, now that it’s had much more exposure on global level? It’s always been a very specialized taste, of course, but still my impression is loads more people from the U.S. and UK know about/like it than when I got my first Outsiders compilation back in 1983.
Mike Stax: I think interest in it has continued to grow as people everywhere dig into the music from that era. The Outsiders and Q65, in particular, have established something of a cult following. Both have been the subject of English language biographies, something that would have been unthinkable twenty or thirty years ago. I expect this box set will lead to a further surge of interest.
PKM: Just as an eight-CD Dutch Beat was unimaginable years ago, so was it unimaginable there would be big box sets for Dutch acts considered cult at best on an international level. You also did liner notes for another new eight-CD box on Pseudonym, Group 1850’s Purple Sky. How satisfying/interesting was it for you to work on that one, and why do you think they’re deserving of such extensive treatment?
Mike Stax: Group 1850 are without doubt one of the most interesting and important bands to come out of the Netherlands in the Sixties. They made what was arguably the first Dutch psychedelic single, “Misty Night” in 1966, along with two of the finest European psych albums, Agemo’s Trip to Mother Earth in 1968 and Paradise Now in 1969; then continued into the ‘70s, always creating boundary-pushing, subversive, progressive music. Pseudonym had released much of their catalog on vinyl in the past few years, so it made sense to compile all of their known recordings into one place—including demos, alternate mixes, live tracks, and solo recordings by singer/keyboardist/leader Peter Sjardin. Again, it was all Hans’s vision. He spent a lot of time liaising with ex-band members, their original manager Hugo, and surviving family members to source tapes, photos, and information. I’d already written a feature about the group for Ugly Things, interviewing several band members, so writing the liner notes was easy and pleasurable.
PKM: Do you think there are other Dutch beat artists who might merit such a box, even considering that there are quite a few CDs’ worth of material by, say, the Outsiders already available?
Mike Stax: There are a number of other Dutch artists who would be worthy of the box set treatment. Next up will be Q65—probably my favorite Dutch band so this is one I’m very excited about. Like the Group 1850 box, it’ll be their complete works—all the albums, singles, solo tracks, reunion recordings, and so on, including a fantastic live set from 1970 that’s never been released before.
PKM: Dutch Beat Nuggetshasn’t been out long, but how’s the reception been, both among Dutch Beat collectors/fans and general rock fans who might not have been too familiar with the genre?
Mike Stax: The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I had expected much more nit-picking on social media—nit-picking and armchair-quarterbacking being one of social media’s chief functions, after all—but people seemed to be genuinely impressed, not only by all of the great music, but also by the packaging, especially the book, which came out beautifully, I think. Sales have exceeded expectations—in fact, the first pressing is already close to being sold out, so a second pressing is being planned.