Monthly Archives: February 2017

Them

By Gary:
I’m old and I will take you back over 50 years and take a look at a forgotten Irish Group that started the career of one “Van Morrison”.  I guess back then it was called Garage Rock or Garage Bands.  They did not have a lot of hits, but they would influence a lot of groups, including the Doors.  I have always enjoyed Van Morrison and Gloria is one of my favourite songs. The group’s roots are R&B, so let’s go back and take a look at
them
Them!
Videos:
1965 / Gloria (written by Van Morrison) in France /
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1965 / Baby Please Don’t Go  /
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1964 or 65 / Here comes the Night /
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1965 / Mystic Eyes in France /
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Music:
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Them forged their hard-nosed R&B sound in Belfast, Northern Ireland, moving to England in 1964 after landing a deal with Decca Records. The band’s simmering sound was dominated by boiling organ riffs, lean guitars, and the tough vocals of lead singer Van Morrison, whose recordings with Them rank among the very best performances of the British Invasion. 

Morrison also wrote top-notch original material for the outfit, whose line up changed numerous times over the course of their brief existence.

As a hit-making act, their résumé was brief — “Here Comes the Night” and “Baby Please Don’t Go” were Top Ten hits in England, “Mystic Eyes” and “Here Comes the Night” made the Top 40 in the U.S. — but their influence was considerable, reaching bands like the Doors, whom Them played with during a residency in Los Angeles just before Van Morrison quit the band in 1966. Their most influential song of all, the classic three-chord stormer “Gloria,” was actually a B-side, although the Shadows of Knight had a hit in the U.S. with a faithful, tamer cover version.

Morrison recalled his days with Them with some bitterness, noting that the heart of the original group was torn out by image-conscious record company politics, and that session men (including Jimmy Page) often played on recordings.

In addition to hits, Them released a couple of fine albums and several flop singles that mixed Morrison compositions with R&B and soul covers, as well as a few songs written for them by producers like Bert Berns (who penned “Here Comes the Night”).

After Morrison left the group, Them splintered into the Belfast Gypsies, who released an album that (except for the vocals) approximated Them‘s early records, and a psychedelic outfit that kept the name Them, releasing four LPs with little resemblance to the tough sounds of their mid-’60s heyday.

–o–

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