Some years ago, when I first started looking deeper into the Dutch Soul sounds, I stumbled upon a meters-like instrumental funk jam. It was the B-side to a release by a band named the Moody Sec. It took me some time to find the actual record, it wasn’t until then I finally heard the A-side. It was a haunting, raw version of Galt Macdermot/Hair’s Let The Sunshine In. I spoke to founding member and Dutch Soul pioneer Will Matla about this record, which to me is best describable as the Dutch Phil Spector Sound. .
The whole thing took place around the city of The Hague. The Hague was known to have a big share in the Dutch beat scene of that time. There is a theory that this is because of the fact that there were a lot of Indonesians living in The Hague. When Rock ‘n Roll kicked in with Chuck Berry and stuff, they picked up the guitar playing way more quickly than the Dutch fellers. Their bands were inspiring, with acts like the Tielman Brothers, Franky Franken and the Crazy Rockers.
We’re talking ’67. Scheveningen, The Hague’s seaside, had a roaring music scene. Will had this band doing The Shadows’ act, called The Black Albino’s (check out their 45 Shish Kebab!). There was another act in the same circuit that had an American soul singer accompanied by two ladies called Vin Cardinal & The Queens. Will and his band went to their show frequently and spotted this girl doing the same, this girl was Marva Hodge. The Black Albino’s were changing their formation. The drummer was replaced by a jazz-schooled one, a guitarist was added, Marva Hodge came along with two backing vocalists plus a horn section. Having seen Ray Charles and stuff such, soul was being played! This formation was called the Moody Sec. A name that came from drinking coffee opposite a fashion store called Moody. The Sec part probably stood for sect, which was constantly written wrong at shows, so they removed the “T”. The band became a success and played 4 or 5 times a week. Soul was very small around that time here, probably the only other notable Dutch act was The Swinging Soul Machine (Spooky’s Day Off).
Now we’re talking ’69. The Hague was booming at that time, nearly every street was responsible for two bands (Shocking Blue, Q65, Supersister, Motions, Golden Earring etc). Jaap Eggermont, first drummer with the Golden Earring(s), left his band and wanted to become a producer. Impressed by the Moody Sec, he told Will he had seen The Three Degrees (Philadelphia) in Paris. They played Let The Sunshine In from the musical Hair, and Jaap wanted to record this with the Moody Sec. Accompanied by arranger Frans Mijts, conductor Kees Schramer, and Dutch female soul singing trio The Hearts Of Soul, they recorded both A- and B-side within 12 hours. The kind of dense sound of the record was deliberately created by Jaap, who had a technical background, inspired by Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound. The record, released under the name of Marva Hodge & The Moody Sec, did really well and ended up peaking at the 6th or 7th place in the Dutch charts, it stayed in for several weeks. The instrumental B-side 00-43-GM, which took them one and a half hour to record, was named after the license plate of Fred Haayen’s car (who was also involved and later became president of Polydor!). The success obviously led to playing lots of shows, touring the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Next to their hit, the repertoire was mostly covers. They played Etta James, P.P. Arnold and when Marva had to breathe Will took over to do some Joe Tex.
Will was already writing songs for a possible upcoming LP. Record companies started showing interest, but the band would fall apart before making an album. Marva was hot and happening, so other bands were interested. Rotterdam soul formation The Free was interested, also Euson & Stax had an eye on her. Marva started jamming with The Livin’ Blues and the band started falling apart. She took the horn section and the girls along and what was left lasted shortly. Will and the others tried to set up a band named Capricorn, but it fell apart after only doing one show. Marva had a few other single releases. They’re frequently considered Moody Sec releases by people on the net, but they’re not. The Moody sec did release one single prequel to their hit, called Mockingbird/Ballad Of A Waiting Man. The B-side, although uncredited, was written by Will and loosely based on Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out. This release was considered to be a flop though.
After the split up, most of the remaining band took a distance from playing music for a while. Will went back to playing the accordion, before joining the band Sympathy some years later. What later happened to Marva we don’t know. What remains are two releases and no film/audio footage of live shows or what so ever….You don’t hear me complaining though!/