The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison - Polydor 1999 ( comp + unreleased 1964-66)
This 2 CD compilation of Van Morrison's Them at first sight seem to contain everything a fan of Morrison's early recordings with the various incarnations of his band "Them" could wish for.
The music is digitally remastered and the large majority of the tracks sound great. All the group's singles, their two albums, their EP-tracks - in short everything seems to have been to be included - with one single exception: My favorite track from the 1976 collection "Rock Roots" - "Mighty Like a Rose" is not here. Is this an oversight? No, the notes can tell that "the demo "Mighty Like a Rose" has been excluded from this album". I wonder if Morrison himself has decided that this should be left out - justifying it by calling it a demo? It can be difficult to see logic in this - the sound "Roots Rock" is definitely good - better than several of the other tracks on that album. I think the song is among the best Morrison wrote to the group, and his vocals are top notch. Could there be something in the lyrics which makes him feel embarrased? I find the lyrics somewhat akin to the classic "Brown Eyed Girl".
Well, no more of the deficiencies. This really is a nice release, and Them recorded along with The Pretty Things, The Animals and the Rolling Stones some the best r&b music which was released in Britain in the mid-Sixties.
Most famous probably are "Gloria," "Mystic Eyes" and "Here Comes the Night" - but most of what is here is of very high quality and no songs could be called outright weak. Morrison's vocals are in themselves a scoop - especially on melodic blues ballads like "One More Time," "I Gave My Love a Diamond", "If You and I Could Be As Two", "I'm Gonna Dress in Black, "" You Just Can not Win "and" My Lonely Sad Eyes ".
Lesser known tracks like "Friday's Child" and "Call My Name" are other of my favourites.
There are disco-graphical notes on all tracks and many rare photographs and covers. A real biography is missing, however. This, of course, is minor thing, and the CD is highly recommendable.