Friday, 6 April 2012

Them at Garage Hangover

Garage Hangover is a site which aims to be a tribute to garage bands.  It has a fantastic array of so-called garage bands from all over the world.  Bands like The Motivation, Jo Jo Gunne and The Most can be found on the hundreds of colourful pages at the site.  The pages on Them are fantastic and a must for any fan.  There are some really great photos and the personnel changes and history of Them right up into the 21st century is traced.  Here's a tiny sample from the Them page: 

December 1966

Sample Replies to the Them Pages
There are a lot of replies to the Them material.  Fans have added concert dates to the database or have simply wanted to record their own recollections of the group. 
Danny Holloway   -   Them played a warm-up gig before their Whiskey residency at the Cinnamon Cinder in Long Beach. I went and talked to Van and the others after the show. They had a great intro: upon being introduced, David Harvey jumped on stage and began played a pronounced kick beat, Alan Henderson soon joined him with a familiar 2 note bassline and on it went until 4 Irishmen vamped on Baby Please Don't Go. Lastly, Van shuffled to the mic and wailed piercing notes on harmonics. So, after the show, me and drummer Steve Roosh told Them agreed we'd see them at the Whiskey. The Whiskey shows were insane. Them drank as much booze as they could. One night, Van was atop a super reverb sized amp waving his arms like a bird as the amp teetered back and forth. Captain Beefheart supported Them the first week and The Doors (pre-Elektra) supported the following week. Jim Morrison wore a suit and was very reserved, frequently performing with his back to the audience. I moved to London in 1970 and began writing for the NME. I interviewed Van at his home in San Rafael. As usual in interviews, Van was prickly. I left the NME and worked for Island Records. In 1975, i was doing overdubs at Island's Basing Street studios for a reggae album i produced called Night Food by The Heptones. I'd noticed that Jackie McCauley had been gigging in London and arranged for him to overdub guitar on The Heptones songs Country Boy and play talk box on Mama Say. He came to the session dressed entirely in black and was easy to get along with.

Freqazoidiac   -   Can you believe, that the first THEM album on Happy Tiger, is essentially a Jerry Cole (spacemen, animated egg) album. That's him singing basically every track, and his searing guitar lines.!!!

John Berg   -    by the time the "final 45" Corrina was recorded, only Alan Henderson was left holding the Them name, the other musos having all returned home to Ireland/UK. Details are still a bit murky about who actually plays on the Corrina single -- it was the last Them 45 on Tower Records, but my hunch is it too was done by LA session men perhaps including Jerry Cole? Likewise, the specifics of who plays what on the first Happy Tiger Them album are still in doubt -- I believe you when you say Jerry Cole handles the singing and guitar, but who else plays alongside him and Alan Henderson? There are no doubts about the In Reality album that wrapped up that phase of the Them career, as Nick's notes accurately credit the ex-Kitchen Cinq gents alongside Henderson for this LP.

John Berg   -   Those of you who wish to hear the music cut in Chicago by TRUTH in 1970 are advised to visit the website where the CD remains on sale, and before you buy you can listen to samples of all tracks. I worked for 5 years to see this release happen, and always enjoy it when more people get turned on to the great music created by Jim Armstrong, Kenny McDowell, Ray Elliot, Reno Smith and Curtis Bachman under the banner of Truth.

Nick   -   I was searching the internet the other day and stumbled across a Rhodesian band called The Priory Combe. They claim their guitarist Dick Cory came to the UK and played with Them and Hedgehoppers Anonymous. I don't know if this is true or not but considering his name is Dick Cory (Them's final single was Richard Cory); I wonder if this is a wind up. One possibility is that Dick Cory could be the same guitarist called Don, who played with the rival Them and is mentioned on 4 November 1965 entry. Who knows!
Tom Wagener   -   THEM - The Belfast Blues Band.  The band is still working and touring the world.  The lineup since 2009 is:  Eric Wrixon - vocal, keyboards,  Billy McCoy (Belfast) - guitar, Luca Nardi (Italy) - bass,  Tom Wagener (Germany) - drums.  Eric Wrixon lives in Italy since 2008.
Nick   -   In the 31 January 1969 issue of the Kingston and Malden Borough News, there was a story about the two McAuley brothers living in the Kingston Upon Thames area, Surrey and that they had just formed a band with a bass player called Rod and two brothers Tony and John Hill called The Washington Track. Does anybody know anything else about this band?

Nick   -   I was scanning through the Middlesex Chronicle (Hounslow ed) today and I stumbled across a West London band from 1964 called Them, who I suspect is the same group listed above for the 1964 dates that I've listed in the comment section. I reckon they had to change their name when Van's more famous band turned up on the scene. To confused matters even more, there is a South African Them who put singles out there featuring future Freedom's Children guitarist Julian Laxton!

John Walker   -   I saw the group one night at the Tiger´s Head pub in Catford, south-east London. This was in 1965, I guess, because I recall the band having had two big hits with Baby, Please Don´t Go and Here Comes The Night.  I would have been aged 17, coming on 18, busy learning the guitar and besotted by those wonderful beat groups that filled the charts.  When the band came on, they had to leave their dressing room and plough through the audience to reach the stage.  As Morrison walked by, I looked straight down onto the crown of his head - he was a tiny bloke - which was covered with long blonde hair down to his shoulders.  I recall thinking: "So, all that guff old people spout about pop stars´ hair being dirty is just so much shit."  I loved the band, but my compatriots sat on their hands. Them couldn´t get arrested that night in Catford.  They were a good band, with two smashing hits under their belts and a fabulous frontman in the dynamic and multi-talented Morrison who, in addition to his ferocious vocals, played guitar and saxophone.  The problem was - Morrison. Even then he was finding a way to make people hate him. Poor Van didn´t have the social skills of a day-old rat.  After each song, I found myself one of only three or four people clapping. I couldn´t have given a damn about Morrison´s prickly personality.  I´d gone there for quality musicianship and got it in spades, so I was happy. But I was deeply unhappy that Them had got such a lukewarm reception. 

Armstrong, Elliott, Harvey and Henderson decide to carry on with Them’s name, now that Morrison has abandoned the name and is pursuing a solo career. The group recruits a new vocalist Ken McDowell (b. 21 December 1944, Belfast, N. Ireland), previously a member of Belfast group The Mad Lads, who have recorded a number of singles for Decca Records, as well as a lone release I Went Out With My Baby as Moses K. & The Prophets. The new version of Them writes to Carol Deck, Californian editor of Flip magazine (who had given the band some encouraging reviews during its US tour) asking for help, and she in turn introduces them to Texan producer Ray Ruff, who has his own indie label, Ruff Records.

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