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The Fatal Flowers

Fatal Flowers is a must hear for music fans who are even slightly interested in Nederbeat (or Dutch rock music from the late '60s). Since Rhino included some of these gems on their More Nuggets, Vol. 2, people outside the Netherlands should be aware of the existence of bands like the Outsiders, the Motions, and Golden Earring. To a certain extent, they proved an influence on the ambitious and short-lived Fatal Flowers. At first it seemed Dutch critics had difficulty reaching a unanimous verdict, but by the time the band split they had to agree: Fatal Flowers were in fact the country's most important band of the '80s.

One of the first bands to evolve from the Dutch punk scene, together with likewise legendary and still existing Claw Boys Claw, Fatal Flowers belonged to what was then called the "Amsterdam school of guitar". Core members Richard Janssen and Henk Jonkers formed the band in 1984, after recruiting bass player Marco Braam and Erwin Wolters on guitar. The latter remained only temporarily, and was soon replaced by Dirk Heuff. Shortly thereafter, the band got signed by major Warner, and in the summer of 1985, released their mini-album Fatal Flowers. On account of Heuff's exceptional guitar playing and the punk-inspired rhythm section of Jonkers and Braam, the debut earned them some fair reviews. Together with Braam, Wolters was credited for "Crying over Sin," arguably the best song on the album, and the one which earned them a contract in the first place.

After releasing the second album, Younger Days, the band's popularity grew on a national scale. Especially live, Fatal Flowers were practically invincible and made endless appearances on Dutch radio broadcasts. In 1987, they were the opening act of the renowned Pinkpop Festival and received an Edison (Dutch equivalent to a Grammy Award) for their second album. Although their full-time commitment to touring and practicing bettered their skills, in the end it would also kill the initial enthusiasm of some of the members. Braam was the second to leave, shortly after the title track "Younger Days" hit the Dutch singles chart in early February 1987.

After replacing Braam for Geert de Groot, Fatal Flowers left for Woodstock to record with admirer Mick Ronson. The outcome, Johnny D. Is Back!, was the first record to capture some of the energy of their live performances. A little help from John Sebastian (adding acoustic guitar and harmonica on a couple of tracks) and the backing vocals of Ann Lang helped Fatal Flowers to enlarge their reputation as the best Dutch band of the moment. Critics and music fans alike called 1988's Johnny D. Is Back! a Dutch classic. Sadly though, upon returning to the Netherlands, Heuff quit the band. René van Barneveld of Urban Dance Squad filled in for him at the remaining Dutch gigs.

Near the end of 1988, a more permanent replacement for Heuff was found in the promising, young, self-taught guitar player Robin Berlijn. His contribution made the fourth Fatal Flowers album their ultimate statement. Again with Mick Ronson in the producer's seat, elements of the new wave like Younger Days and the soulful Johnny D. Is Back! were combined with a more aggressive playing style. Through 1990's Pleasure Ground, Fatal Flowers had plans to make it outside of the Netherlands as well. Unfortunately, singer Janssen left the band in the summer of 1990, disillusioned about their new label Phonogram's neglect in properly promoting the band abroad. One of the most promising Dutch bands of the era fell apart. Separate members remained active within the music business, with Janssen forming Shine in mid-‘90s.

Not much was heard of Fatal Flowers until July 2002, when the band re-formed for the first time in 12 years to promote a greatest-hits album Younger Days: The Definitive Fatal Flowers. There appeared to be no upcoming reunion plans. ~ Quint Kik
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Track List: Rock And Roll Star

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