Glossary entry for

This band originally came together in Belfast in 1963. They started a regular blues club at Belfast's Maritime Hotel and their mission was to convert the city to the blues to which vocalist Van Morrison added a soulful tinge. Morrison had previously played in an outfit called Georgie and The Monarchs, who had a 45, Boo-Zooh (Hully Gully)/Twingy Baby (CBS 1307), which was only released in Germany and Holland. Them soon established a good live reputation locally with a 15 minute version of Bobby Bland's Turn On Your Lovelight, their tour de force. A demo tape was also made of this.

In July 1964 Wrixen departed to join The Wheels, and Mellings also left to become a milkman. Decca's Dick Rowe, having seen them perform at the Maritime, arranged a recording audition in London and to find a debut single. Seven songs were recorded - Groovin', You Can't Judge A Book, a shortened version of Turn On Your Lovelight, Gloria, One Two Brown Eyes, Philosophy and Don't Start Crying Now. This last frenetic number was chosen for their first 45. It failed to break through nationally but sold well in Belfast. It's now their most valuable and sought-after 45.

Them finally split in June 1966 but later re-grouped in Los Angeles with Belfast vocalist Ken McDowell in Morrison's place. This line-up cut two albums on Tower and continued, based in the US, into the seventies. The Now And Them album was a curious mixture of blues-rock and psychedelia. Most notable in the latter category was Square Room, a 10-minute Eastern-sounding group composition. This album is now highly collectable. Prior to the follow-up Roy Elliot departed and the band became a quartet.

By the time of their second Tower album, Them were a fully fledged psychedelic rock band. Like its predecessor it's recommended to fans of the psychedelic genre. Sadly, it marked the end of this line-up who split in 1968, disillusioned by their financial situation. Armstrong and McDowell formed Sk'boo back in Belfast, but Henderson recorded another album, Them, on Happy Tiger with Jerry Cole, a respected LA sessionman on guitar and vocals and an unnamed drummer. The album ranged from rock'n'roll through country to soul and Ry Cooder and Jack Nitzsche played on some tracks uncredited. However, the album was less interesting than what had preceded it and also failed to chart. Henderson's final effort, In Reality, is now their rarest album but was probably Them's worst.

Their US albums on Happy Tiger, Them and In Reality, have been reissued on one CD (Synton 1610973) 1997.

Van Morrison, of course, launched a successful solo career. What of the rest? Well, when the American-based line-up split, Henderson recorded a grandoise double Jesus-rock opera project with Ray Ruff (who'd produced all of Them's US-only albums), entitled Truth Of Truths on Oak Records. It was a total disaster! He then spent several years on a Connecticut farm, but reformed Them with original members Eric Wixen and Billy Hamilton in the late seventies. They travelled to Hamburg (some of Them's singles had successfully been reissued in Germany) to record Shut Your Mouth, a competent blues-rock album. After this reformation collapsed, Billy Harrison made a solo album, Billy Who? (Vagabond VRLPS 80001) 1980. After his time in the Belfast Gypsies, Pat McAuley withdrew from the music business and sadly drowned in Donegal in 1984. Jackie McAuley was later in Cult (who did not record), Trader Horne and also made a solo album in 1971. In the late seventies, Armstrong formed Light, whose 1978 album featured much of his fine guitar playing. John Wilson was later involved in Taste and Stud, and Peter Bardens, who'd previously been in Peter B's and Shotgun Express, recorded three solo albums during the seventies as well as playing for Camel.

Contributed by David Chance

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