Ten Sharp

Ten Sharp
Release date
01 January 1970
Ten Sharp
01 January 1970 |

During ‘De Grote Prijs van Nederland’ band competition, the foundations were laid with the melodious rock group ‘Streets’ for what would soon develop into Ten Sharp. Kapteijn and Hermes, playing with bass player Ton Groen, drummer Wil Bouwes and guitarist Martin Boers failed to make it beyond the qualifying rounds. But it would not be long before they were able to sign a contract with CBS. The first single ‘When The Snow Falls’ (84) was ‘tipped for the top’, while its successor, ‘Japanese Lovesong’ was hit number 30 on the charts. The next two singles (‘Last Words’ en ‘Way Of The West’) flopped. Disappointed, the group fell apart shortly afterwards.

On a roll, Niels Hermes and Ton Groen continued to make songs, basically for others. Marcel Kapteijn, still fed up with the record world, sang the demos. When Sony Music ultimately expressed major interest in the new pieces, Kapteijn gave in. Based on earlier experiences, he figured that things would not move quickly. But how could someone be so far off the mark: The new pieces (with the cooperation of producer Michiel Hoogeboezem, ex-Solution saxophone player Tom Barlage, and ex-Time Bandits guitarist Hugo de Bruin) were put on CD. ‘You’ was released as a single in 1991 and the track ultimately charged through all the major European charts and several beyond Europe as well. To this day, ‘You’ can be heard world-wide and has sold some 18 million copies. The mini CD ‘Under The Waterline’ released at the time was embellished with a number of new songs to a fully-fledged LP. That LP earned Ten Sharp the Export Prize in 1992.

None of the singles that followed could match the success of ‘You’, let alone exceed it. That proved to be virtually impossible, but the duo had no regrets. They were already away from home enough to promote the success of the supersingle. The result can be found on the second CD ‘The Fire Inside’, which was released 1993. One example is ‘Rumours in the City’, in which they established their experiences after visits to Argentina. The single ‘Dreamhome’ made it to the charts in the Netherlands and proved all the more that Ten Sharp was not of passing interest.

There was great demand for live shows. In 1994 and 1995, Hermes, Kapteijn and Groen went on tour with four additional conservatory musicians: first along the theatres, later to major festivals such as the World Liberty Concert in Arnhem, Parkpop in The Hague or the Uitmarkt in Amsterdam. The cooperation was so successful that it was decided to record the third CD with the entire band.

The CD ‘Shop of Memories’ brings what the title suggests: musical influences are incorporated in their own polished, mature songs. Ten Sharp developed into a pure album group, with the addition of: Bennie Top on drums, Ton Groen on bass, Nick Bult on keyboard, Hubert Heeringa on saxophone, violin and magic horn and Yelle Sieswerda on guitar. When they were asked for the first show of the Marlboro Flashback Tour in 1996, it blended well with the course they had set. The group was requested to play tracks from their heroes, their major influences. The series of concerts, in which the trio and their musicians played songs from groups such as The Eagles, Steely Dan, Crowded House, Hall & Oates, E.L.O., Steve Miller, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, was a resounding success. To record the moment for posterity, Roots Live was recorded during the tour.

The two years that followed were spent on the Roots promotional tour, a second Flashback tour in which they only played works from the Finn brothers (Crowded House, Split Enz), and a 35 theatre tour. The plans for a new studio record were therefore postponed. To keep the flame burning, it was decided to release ‘Best of’, although Kapteijn and Hermes did not have enough greatest hits to justify the title. They decided to add five new songs to presage the studio record that was still on hold. It was quickly clear that they had not forgotten how to write when the hit single ‘Beautiful’ made it as far as number one on the Argentinean charts.

This was also the moment in which Hermes and Kapteijn became acquainted with arranger Tom Bakker. He provided string arrangements to the five new songs on ‘Everything & More’. Niels and Marcel also wanted nothing more than to cooperate with Tom again for their next record. This ultimately resulted in the album ‘Stay’, in which Tom Bakker was responsible for a major part of the compositions. It is a positive, enthusiastic album filled with twelve highly divergent pieces. This time, the production was given to Peter van Asten. Guitarist Rob Winter, bassist Giovanni Caminita, drummer Ton Dijkman, and pianist Tom Bakker formed the backbone of the album ‘Stay’. They, in turn, were accompanied by a string orchestra, the hammond of Nico Brandsen, the percussion of Antoon Toolsma and the brass work of the Jay Horns.

Exactly 25 years after the release of their hit single ‘You’, Ten Sharp has been asked to have a meeting with dutch rapper Cho in a TV show, called ‘Ali B op volle toeren’. In this show, Ten Sharp en Cho/Ali B will exchange their musical approach to their hits: Cho’s ‘Misschien Wel hê’ and Ten Sharp’s ‘You’. Ten Sharp tried to put Cho’s ‘Misschien Wel Hè?’ in their own musical words, resulting in their new single ‘Maybe’ (release January 2017): No rap, but an old-school Ten Sharp ballad with a touch of 2017.

To this very day, Marcel Kapteijn and Niels Hermes are still working on spreading their musical past in the Netherlands and abroad. But, in addition to Ten Sharp, they are also passionately involved in music in their own right.