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Golden Earring Contraband album cover
3.12 | 45 ratings | 6 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bombay (3:02)
2. Sueleen (5:25)
3. Con Man (7:13)
4. Mad Love's Comin' (7:42)
5. Fightin' Windmills (4:39)
6. Faded Jeans (5:05)
7. Time's Up (3:55)

Total time 37:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Barry Hay / vocals
- George Kooymans / lead guitar, vocals
- Eelco Gelling / electric & slide guitars
- Rinus Gerritsen / bass, keyboards
- Cesar Zuiderwijk / drums

- Patricia Paay / backing vocals
- Robert Jan Stips / MiniMoog (3), piano (6), string arrangements (5)
- Nippy Noya / congas

Releases information

Artwork: Ronnie Hertz (photo)

LP Polydor ‎- 2310 491 (1976, Netherlands)
LP Music On Vinyl ‎- MOVLP322 (2011, Netherlands)

CD Polydor ‎- 847 933-2 (1991, Netherlands)
CD Red Bullet ‎- RB 66.209 (2001, Netherlands)

Thanks to seyo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GOLDEN EARRING Contraband ratings distribution

(45 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GOLDEN EARRING Contraband reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars By 76 and this album Contraband, GE was losing momentum from their peak they'd enjoyed in 73 with Moontan and the ex-Supersister keyboardist wasn't bringing in all of the fresh blood the fans were hoping for, Contraband can be considered the very last of their classic-era albums, even if the tremendous double Live was to be their next release and become another major seller. Graced with a clown-esque artwork, Contraband shows the group pumping out tracks that lack inspiration, the same one that had the group climb that international ladder, but by all means, this album is still worthy of many a listens.

As just mentioned above, this album (and that extended line-up trilogy in general) is a bit plagued with lesser songwriting than previously, but there are a few bright ray of sun in it. Most notably, among the best are the intriguing (and somewhat repetitive) Mad Love Is Coming and the upwards-looking Fighting Windmills with its Arabic synth layers and very tights arrangements and weird ending. Note that it's the only three tracks from Contraband that will find space into their concert track list and both will be featured in the double live album coming up next. Also of interest is the almost title track, Con Man (the only one close to the title of the album) with its intricate interplay. For the rest, the album is made of slightly-above average tracks that in earlier works might have been seen as fillers, but let's just says that they are not as inspired by the old sense of urgency of GE (prior to Moontan).

Although not as good as the previous TTH, Contraband is certainly a better album than Switch, a TTH album whose better moments will have a chance to shine up on stage and more importantly on the fantastic double live album coming up. Not flawless an album but still worth a listen, though!!

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars In terms of album releases, Golden Earring was a very prolific band in those times: this is their third album in less than two years. And those three albums (''Switch'', ''To The Hilt'' and ''Contraband'') do share a lot in common and this one sounds often to business as usual: somewhat routine work without a lot of passion.

There are some pop songs, even a hit with the entertaining opener ''Bombay'', some straight rock music with a closing psyche instrumental section (''Sue Leen'') and a couple of longer songs as well.

The first one is ''Con Man''. I have mixed feeling about this one: it seems that Barry is emulating Rod Steward on the vocals for most of it! Again, a fine rocking number featuring some very good guitar towards the end of it. I told you, business as usual.

Just next to it is the longest one from this album: ''Mad Love's Comin''. This is by far my fave from this offering: a nice crescendo building, an hypnotic and repetitive background theme, a strong cohesion within the band and at last somewhat more elaborate of a track. It reminds the good old ''Moontan'' days with a middle section which has some ''Radar Love'' air. But who would complain? Not me, for sure! IMHHO, it is one of their top ten best song ever: no more, no less.

The good ''Fightin' Windmills'' is also on the more complex side. An infectious beat, which reminds me of ''Kill Me- Ce Soir'' and which ends up in an fantastic combination of Eastern influences and superb vocals/guitar to close. Another highlight IMHHO.

I guess that their producer was not really in top form when he decides the track order (but so was he already with their prior release). The best songs are all placed later in the album (starting with ''Mad Love?''). It is also the case with the punchy ''Fated Jeans''. Nothing too complex here, but a serious and kicking rock song that keeps this album in good territories.

The band is still releasing good quality works. As far as I am concerned it is their eight one in a row. Not too bad, is it? But what if they only had grouped their songs to only release two albums instead of three? It would have definitely led to two four stars records.

Three stars for ''Contraband''.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Mid-seventies were a time when GOLDEN EARRING softened their sound into a mainstream- friendly AOR ("adult-oriented", or as some would interpret this acronym, "arena-oriented rock", if you like). Still, they were occasionally capable of producing strong and memorable songs that showcased their affirmed (and experienced) musicianship.

"Contraband" is largely considered their last "classic" album containing mixture of straightforward but not so original guitar-based heavy rock and subtle doses of progressive arrangements that broke the classic 4 minutes pop-rock song structure. Unfortunately, this LP contains more of the former elements.

Two highlights are surely those having longer instrumental passages and solos. "Mad Love's Coming" with its irresistible guitar-driven repetitive chords and catchy chorus is continuation of "Radar Love" groovy patterns, while "Fightin' Windmills" is the most proggy song on the LP ? a slower, bluesy main theme which later on goes into a section filled with synth strings, emulating for a moment a "Kashmir"-like "eastern" sounds and finally ending with the actual sound of a windmill noise.

What is left is a collection of sub-standard, weak songs that are well played and produced but which ultimately leaves a listener empty and uninterested. With exception of excellent slide guitar solo parts in "Sueleen" courtesy of Eelco Gelling, I presume, the rest of the album does not hold on repeated listening.

I am left wondering whether to give this LP ** or *** stars, but having heard live and somewhat better versions of two best tracks from here, which are included in the double live set from 1977, I can only assess "Contraband" even less worthy to obtain.


P.A. RATING: 2/5

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A marked improvement on ' To the Hilt', it was almost as if GE knew they had taken a slightly wrong turn and decided to put in some extra creative effort for Contraband. In essence the same format is their from the previous album, just that the song writing is much more on the mark with some fine songs to sing priases too. There is a more conceptual feel to Contraband which let's face it in terms of progressive music credentials cannot do the album any harm when being reviewed or evaluated.

Still for all that a very enjoyable album the highlights of which are ' Mad Love's Comin', here Barry Hay is truly brilliant in his vocal delivery on this song and IMO the finest track on the album being the follow up ' Fightin Windmills'. Kooymans guitar work notably great on this release too and as usual Gerritsen's bass does the business. The ubiquitous Cesar Zuiderwijk at thr drum kit. Unlike other reviewers I am not convinced Jan Stips changed the sound, it was more a case of him climbing on the evolution bandwagaon at the time, needless to say great keyboard/synth work also. An excellent album overall.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Contraband is a good album, many times puted on the wall, because of the comercial attitude and without substance in composing arrnagements. I find this album to be enjoyble, nothing realy special here but pleasent most of the time. Is quite far from the early album like Walls of dolls, Together and even far from Moontan who was only 3 years released earlier then this album. Contraband is amore mainstream, accesible tunes with catchy arrangements jut ok for the market, but keeping in mind that all are ok tracks not a weak moement here for sure. The album released in 1976, in some parts and on my Cd is written 1977 and Hilt to be from 1976, is a comercial album in GE catalogue, the pieces are in majority short with some exceptions , to the point, friendly sound even in places they toying with AOR moments, not very much moments in progressive terms, but overall an ok album for sure, I realy like it. Similar with Journey, Styx, Toto to some point, guitar based rock tunes with some progressive flavour here and there, not much, but not bad either. Most of the reviewers from here and elsewhere, me included, find this album enjoyble enough yet nothing realy impressive as before, quite same with previous 2 albums, in places even better, but not very distinctiv. Pieces like Mad Love's Comin or Fightin' Windmills are realy good offerings by Golden Earring, very solid sound and tight musicianship, specialy the voice of Barry Hay is excellent but aswell the rest of the musicians involved here done a good job yet not fantastic as a whole. 3 stars easy, even sound strange to many of you I,m more in love, if I can say that, to this album then to Moontan, personal reasons. I also like a lot the cover art, the simplicity of the picture on the front cover I find very attractive and remind me of old friends stay together.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Along with Eight Miles High,Contraband bookends Ge's 'Prog' era. The feel of this album is a vibe of mellow. Robert Jan Stips (keys), has been replaced with Eelco Gelling on guitar/slide for their touring. RJS is involved on 3 tracks still. The album starts of with 2 feel good songs Bombay ... (read more)

Report this review (#204235) | Posted by gr8dane | Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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