Holland's the Golden Earrings still sounded like a crack British Invasion-era outfit who had made a wrong turn somewhere when they cut their second album, 1966's Winter Harvest, but they were inarguably a stronger and more ambitious group a year after releasing their debut. All 14 songs on Winter Harvest were originals (primarily written by bassist Rinus Gerritsen and guitarist George Kooymans), and the stylistic range of this collection is noticeably wider, with the Northern soul-influenced "Smoking Cigarettes," the darkly witty character study "Lionel the Miser," and the spare but sophisticated "You Break My Heart" all exploring sounds and styles the band had not pursued before. (They could also rock harder than ever before, as evidenced by the swaggering "You've Got the Intention to Hurt Me.") The Golden Earrings clearly had the confidence to try new things when they recorded Winter Harvest, and with good reason -- they sounded good on Just Earrings, but they're tighter and sharper here, hitting a more consistent groove and making the most of the possibilities of the studio. Gerritsen began playing keyboards as well as bass on these recordings, and the added tonal colors serve the material well, and vocalist Frans Krassenburg had picked up a lot of nuance after a year of steady recording and performing. If Just Earrings was the Golden Earrings' Please Please Me, Winter Harvest is their Rubber Soul, an album that masterfully consolidates their old strengths while revealing many new ones. This LP isn't quite up to the lofty level of the Fab Four's early masterpiece, but it stands comfortably beside the work of most of the better-known English acts of the period, and remains impressive more than four decades after it was released.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming