Them Featuring Van Morrison

Them Featuring Van Morrison

The Story of Them

Deram/Polygram Chronicles

One of the very few British blues invasion (by way of Ireland) bands to have its catalogue in complete disrepair, Them has finally been given the (almost) deluxe treatment. Short of a box set, this is all you’ll ever need, since The Story of Them is a concise two disc collection of everything the band ever recorded. There’s no booklet, and the individual track listing of personnel is missing (most likely because except for Van Morrison, there was a changing line-up of group personnel that included studio pros like Jimmy Page filling in, and nobody kept notes for posterity), but these 50 tracks are the groups’ entire output from the years 1964-1966. The sound is an absolute revelation, with the original masters being used for the first time ever for the digital transfer.

But it’s the music that’ll blow you away. More dedicated to the blues than even their contemporaries the Stones or the Animals, Them’s heady mix of rugged blues (“Bright Lights, Big City,” “Baby Please Don’t Go”), garage rock (“Gloria,” “Here Comes The Night,” “I Can Only Give You Everything”), and Morrison’s own ethereal originals (“Mystic Eyes,” “Friday’s Child”) gave them an edge that was shared with absolutely nobody, and hasn’t been duplicated since.

This is wild, untamed, passionate stuff, and Van sings with a rabid intensity unheard of in most 19-year-olds. The troubled band’s career was cut short in just two years because of a variety of record biz woes, but this long awaited collection shows why their music survived through trends and fashions. Them’s catalog sounds just as intense today as it did 30 years ago, and it goes to show that great music made by hungry artists burning with drive and desire will always stand the test of time.

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