Guide to British Music of the 1960s

April 2004

CD Review

Them - The Angry Young Them

 

This is the album that brought the vocal talents of Van Morrison to the world. A mix of Van Morrison original and R&B classics, The Angry Young Them is an excellent album of British R&B putting the band on a par with the likes of the Rolling Stones. Maybe the Decca label and the cover photograph style with lack of album title or band name was no coincidence.

The album was released as Here Comes the Night in the US, cashing in on the single although it does not appear on the UK version of the CD, at least.

The album's opener is the superb, raw and raucous Mystic Eyes. This was later released as a single by Decca against the wishes of the band. While this track appears to highlight the passionate style of the band, much of the album was completed by session musicians but with Morrison handling the vocals. The band was going through a series of line-up changes at the time. There has been considerable discussion as to the extent of Jimmy Page's involvement with Them as a session musician. He is known to have contributed to a number of recordings by Them and so he is probably on this album, indeed Mystic Eyes does sound very Page-like.

After the noise of Mystic Eyes, the second track If You And I Could Be As Two is much slower and brings Van Morrison's voice to the fore. However, Little Girl is another rocker with pounding keyboards and guitar driving the track along.

Just a Little Bit is almost a vocal version of Green Onions with the background riff of guitar, bass and keyboards.

Gloria has now become a rock classic but it stands here in its original form. Still the staple of many a set list, Gloria is one of Van Morrison's greatest tracks and a a classic of 1960s British R 'n' B. The song was initially released as the B-side of the single Baby Please Don't Go. The jangly guitar with its three repeating chords can be nothing else but Gloria.

You Just Can't Win is almost a duet between Morisson and the cymbals. The echo on the voice gives it a deep and almost scary feel. Don't Look Back is the best of the ballads on the album. Written by John Lee Hooker, the track is quite unlike his better-known Boom Boom or Dimples. The listener could be excused for believing that this track is a Van Morrison song as it is so similar to his own material. Maybe this one simply a major influence on his own writing.

A further R &B classic is Jimmy Reed's Bright Lights Big City. This is again driven by the guitar and swirling organ, overlain by Morisson's vocals. The album finishes with the standard Route 66, another note of comparison with the debut from the Stones. These two tracks emphasise that either the band or the record company was not confident in putting too many originals on the album. The same could be said of the debut albums from the Beatles, Stones or the Who. These albums show that the days of bands writing all their own material were about to arrive.

Release Date: 1965

CD-Release: 1998

Deram 844 824-2

Essential Tracks:

  • Mystic Eyes
  • Gloria
  • Don't Look Back

Track Listing:

  1. Mystic Eyes
  2. If You and I Could Be as Two
  3. Little Girl
  4. Just a Little Bit
  5. I Gave My Love a Diamond
  6. Gloria
  7. You Just Can't Win
  8. Go On Home Baby
  9. Don't Look Back
  10. I Like It Like That
  11. I'm Gonna Dress in Black
  12. Bright Lights Big City
  13. My Little Baby
  14. (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66

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