This week’s Lost Treasure is a rarity released only in the UK & the Netherlands & I was lucky enough to purchase this record while traveling through Europe in 1969. Released on Decca Records in 1967, “The Story of Them” is a two-part Side A/Side B self-biographical blues tune. I’ve remixed this into one long continuous track. By the time this was released, lead singer Van Morrison had left the group & embarked on his own solo career. As with many 60’s & 70’s band, the group Them had many personnel changes over it’s short life span. In 1964, the group came together when Morrison & the group The Gamblers from east Belfast, Ireland came together to start gigs as the house band at Belfast’s Maritime Club. Van was lead singer & also played harmonica & alto sax. Them extended blues & R&B numbers – both Morrison originals plus covers into some long jams to the pleasure of dance floor patrons. It was here that their first & biggest hit “Gloria” got developed & sometimes the song lasted up to 22 minutes. Dick Rowe of Decca Records traveled to Belfast to hear the group after receiving a tape of the group from an Irish music reviewer & signed Them to a 2-year contract. They had a half dozen hits on Decca which included supplemental instruments added, notably session guitarist Jimmy Page.
Them was a difficult group to promote & their reputation for bad manners and sarcasm in their interviews didn’t help matters any. One British music newspaper columnist described the group as “the most boorish bunch of youngsters I’d come across in my short career”. Appearing on UK TV pop music shows ‘Ready, Steady Go’ & ‘Top Of The Pops’ Them were expected to mime & “lip-sync” their songs which infuriated Morrison. He left the group at the end of 1966 & a less successful version of the group continued on. The group finally split apart in mid-1968 after arguments over money & contracts. As a side note: back in Belfast in 1965 some of the ex members formed a rival group also called Them which led to lawsuits & ultimately that group became the Belfast Gypsies. Various members of both groups attempted to revive Them but by 1972 called it quits for good. There have been a few appearances since that time with various ex-members regrouping for one-off performances under the name “Them the Belfast Blues Band”. “The Story of Them” has Jimmy Page playing rhythm guitar on it. Enjoy this very rare recording & have a great weekend from your friends at Puget Sound Media!