Greetings, Glancers! There’s a curious cultural curio about folks like me from Northern Ireland. We don’t like it when ‘one of us’ gains fame and success around the world. We get embarrassed, it’s like we’re ashamed of allowing ourselves to be seen by the outside world as if we’re all part of some depraved sex cult and the rest of you have just had a peak behind the curtain and seen which devices we’ve been shoving into which holes. The flip side of it is that we do have a certain pride – in a country of 300 people or whatever it is, that we’ve managed to produce a certain number of iconic figures in the field of sport, music, and film.
And then there’s me. I don’t give a fuck if you’re from here, there, or anywhere. Admittedly I do get more pissed off by famous Irish people than others – but only if I already don’t like them – but that’s more a case of hearing the accent and wondering how anyone could take any of us seriously. I have no pride or patriotism in my bones or elsewhere and I will congratulate or mock based on your achievements and my feelings towards you alone. Which brings us to Van ‘The Man’ Morrisan (Morrison). He’s a bit of a cock, really. It has always disturbed me that he has been held up as the best our country has to offer. Seriously, what a knob. But then, I’ve liked some of his songs – there’s no getting away from how good a couple of them are. And we’re all here today because I’ve admitted I’ve never heard this album featuring him, or any other he’s involved in. Does that make me a hypocrite? Hey, I never said I wasn’t.
From what little I know about Them, they were a typical 60s rock band who did a mixture of original tracks and Blues covers. So, an Irish version of The Rolling Stones then. I don’t have high hopes for this, but at the very least maybe I’ll hear some rousing old fashioned rock ditties.
Could You Would You: There’s that timeless 60s production. I could do without the organ – I’m rarely a fan. I’m also not a huge fan of Morrison’s vocals – sometimes great, mostly not. This is a sweet enough rock ballad. He sounds like he’s trying too hard to mimic Jagger. It sounds like a hundred other 60s songs but does have its own flavour.
Something You Got: He sounds an awful lot like Jagger here. It doesn’t help that so many of those Blues standards sounded so samey, then all the British Invasion bands came and covered them in samey ways. This is mostly weak and forgettable. It has a brass solo in the middle, but as a whole I’ll have forgotten it by the album’s end.
Call My Name: A more interesting start. A more interesting song. Much more in the vein of 50s rock than your usual Blues song. Morrison doesn’t have enough emotion in his voice or delivery, so it’s lucky that his tone is more or less distinct. Guitars feel a little like The Doors in places. Yes, I know Van and Jim knew each other.
Turn On Your Love Light: I know this one from Blues Brothers 2000. I’ve always wondered what a Love Light is. Is it like a Fleshlight? Or is it a light you turn on so that your boyfriend knows it’s safe to ‘come in’. This has gone all sorts of dirty places. It’s an uptempo Blues song with added organ and, is that tambourine? Fun but forgettable. Van screams a bit. I just knew they would hand-clap.
I Put A Spell On You: We all know this one. This version is more smokey, sultry, less mysterious than the original. In other words, if the original is pure infatuation, this one is cheap porn. Yeah, I think that about covers it.
I Can Only Give You Everything: Feels very Stones again. Similar energy and raw power. The song is painfully basic. Repetitive riff, verging on the garage rock scene that was opening up, but melodies are non-existent. Could have been much better with a noticeable vocal hook.
My Lonely Sad Eyes: More interesting. The Morrison originals are better than everything else here. He also sounds more like himself vocally when it’s a song he’s written. The little vocal ticks and melodies sound very similar to his big hits, so I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s quite limited. I’m sure I’m wrong, but I don’t mind. It’s nice, not top tier, but in that lower B grade territory.
I Got A Woman: More fast-paced blues. It’s energetic and fun – you’ve probably heard some version of it. I wish I had more to say about the blues songs. I always like them, but they always feel inconsequential. It was the dance music of the day – good for moving to, but in one ear and out the other.
Out Of Sight: A James Brown cover, it lacks the one of a kind charisma he brought to what is an otherwise plain song. Nothing wrong here, just more C grade material.
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue: It’s that Dylan song which rips of Stand By Me. At least this differs from the usual Blues material. It has always been a sweet song, the shimmering instrumentation making it arguably more preferable to the original. Morrison sings it nicely.
Bad Or Good: Honkey Tonk time. Unfortunate hand claps. It feels like this should be a much faster song, but instead it sways along at a slow pace. Luckily it doesn’t go much further than two minutes as it would have outstayed its welcome.
How Long Baby: A slow bluesy ballad, organ led. If you like Morrison’s voice, you’ll like this. I don’t so it’s not for me. More simple and repetitive stuff – I wouldn’t mind if the melodies were more interesting. The tremolo effect on the guitar changes things up somewhat.
Hello Josephine: Another very Stones-esque cover. More saloon cowboy piano shenanigans and a Johnny B Goode solo. It’s fast and short so doesn’t get on my nerves too much.
Don’t You Know: The flute and bass stuff keep this afloat. Makes me think of a Pink Panther episode. Not bad. Not great.
Hey Girl: Points for following it up with more flute. Again, it’s Morrison’s solo work which feels stronger. Make what you will of lyrics like ‘baby you’re so young I don’t know what to do’.
Bring Em On In: A rambunctious closer which is certainly a lot of fun and works as a rock album closer should – it gets you on your feet and makes you want to play through the whole thing again. It’s not amazing – it’s still firmly in B grade territory – though maybe with a singer I liked more this could score higher.
Essentially just another one of the hundreds of other albums in the 60s which followed the format of blues covers with the odd original. The covers never get better than straight B grade, though the Morrison penned originals are more interesting and give me hope for when I eventually get to his solo albums. I don’t know if I’ll ever come fully around to his vocals – here he doesn’t go much further than a Jagger wannabe. Most of the playing by the band is sound, if unadventurous – just what the material demanded. If you’re into 60s streamlined Rock, then there’s no reason you won’t like this. I just ask for a little more.
Let us know what you think of Them Again in the comments!
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: It’s All Over Now Baby Blue. My Lonely Sad Eyes. Hey Girl.