Friday 10 April 2020

Them - Leave Them All Behind

When most people think of the band Them, it's the Van Morrison led band who had huge hits such as "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Here Comes the Night". But, after Morrison quit in 1966 they went on to record several more albums as Them between 1968-1971. The history of Them is quite convoluted, you only have to see the personnel of  the band on their Wiki page to get some idea! This collection focuses on the more prominent members from the many line-ups of the band.
The original Them formed in 1964, which consisted of Van Morrison, Alan Henderson, Ronnie Milling, Billy Harrison and Eric Wrixon. In 1965 ex members Billy Harrison and Pat McAuley formed a rival Them. Legal action by Morrison's Them forced the band to use the name 'Other Them' when performing in the UK. The following year Pat McAuley's brother Jackie McAuley joined the band after Harrison quit. Though never billed as such, the band became known as the Belfast Gypsies (or Gipsies), releasing a couple of singles under that name plus another as 'Freaks of Nature'. They released just the one album in 1967. Many recognise this as an album called "Belfast Gypsies" by Them, others will argue it's titled "Them Belfast Gypsies" by the Belfast Gypsies. For the sake of this collection I've billed the one track by them as Belfast Gypsies!

The original Them relocated to the USA after Morrison left, now consisting of Kenny McDowell (vocals), Jim Armstrong (guitar), Alan Henderson (bass), Ray Elliott (sax/flute/organ) & Dave Harvey (drums). They recorded 2 albums in 1968, "Now and "Them"" and "Time Out! Time in for Them" before splitting up. Armstrong, McDowell and Elliot reunited in 1969 as 'Truth' and recorded a number of demos and soundtrack songs later released as "Of Them And Other Tales" in 1995. Alan Henderson kept the band name Them, releasing in 1970 a self-titled album featuring Jerry Cole on vocals/guitar, and "In Reality" in 1971, featuring Jim Parker on guitar/vocals and John Stark on drums.
Peter Bardens, who was briefly in Them in 1965, formed the band Village in 1968, featuring future Elvis Costello and The Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas and Bill Porter on drums. They released just the one single, "Man in the Moon" in 1969. After this Bardens released the solo album "The Answer" in 1970, which featured Peter Green on lead guitar. Shortly after Bardens went on to join the prog rock band Camel in 1972. Jackie McAuley, after leaving the Belfast Gypsies, joined up with former Fairport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble to form the folk rock act Trader Horn in 1969. This short-lived musical partnership broke up after releasing only one LP, "Morning Way", in 1970.  The same year McAuley issued a self-titled solo album.

I tried to keep the complex history of this band as short as possible, I think I just about succeeded! For more detailed info I suggest you visit the wiki entries on Them and various ex-members. By the way, whatever happened to that original lead vocalist, Van Morrison???

Once more huge thanks to Manerg for finding the photo for the cover art, hopefully most of you will figure out the meaning behind the photo and it's connection to this collection! Info containing track origin & year of release is tagged in the music files and in the download file. Keep safe everybody, many thanks for all the kind comments, and hope you enjoy!

  1. Them - Gloria (6:19)
  2. Them - Time Out for Time In (2:52)
  3. Truth - Music From Big Puce (4:04)
  4. Them - Take a Little Time (2:11)
  5. Jackie McAuley - Cameraman, Wilson and Holmes (4:51)
  6. Peter Bardens - Homage to the God of Light (6:23)
  7. Them - Black Widow Spider (4:31)
  8. Trader Horne - Better Than Today (3:11)
  9. Truth - 6 O'Clock Alarm (8:28)
10. Them - Let My Song Through (2:35)
11. Jackie McAuley - Country Joe (4:34)
12. Them - Square Room (9:55)
13. Village - Man in the Moon (4:13)
14. Them - Waltz of the Flies (2:21)
15. Trader Horne - Sheena (2:33)
16. Truth - High (6:00)
17. Them - You Got Me Good (2:40)
18. Belfast Gypsies - Gloria's Dream (2:11)


Tuesday 7 April 2020

Manfred Mann Chapter Three - Chips But No Fish

From wikipedia:
Manfred Mann Chapter Three was a British experimental jazz rock band founded by South African keyboard player Manfred Mann and long-time partner Mike Hugg, both former members of the group Manfred Mann. The line-up for its debut at Newcastle's Mayfair Ballroom on 24 October 1969 was: Mike Hugg (vocals/electric piano), Mann (organ), Bernie Living (alto sax), Steve York (bass) and Craig Collinge (drums), augmented by a five-piece brass section of Clive Stevens (tenor sax), Carl Griffiths (tenor sax), Dave Coxhill (baritone sax), Gerald Drewett (trombone) and Sonny Corbett (trumpet). The band released two studio albums, and shelved a third. Mann went on to form Manfred Mann's Earth Band in 1971.

I can't remember exactly when I first heard Manfred Mann Chapter Three, but I do remember my surprise at how different they were to the previous incarnation of the band. I did like some Manfred Mann, preferring the Mike d'Abo years over the Paul Jones era. I recommend "Mighty Garvey!", released in 1968 it's a fine psychedelic pop album. MMC3 was a huge leap forward, ditching their pop roots for a more progressive/jazz rock direction. Unfortunately the public didn't embrace this change in style, sales for their only 2 albums were rather poor, culminating in their break-up less than 2 years after forming. After their demise Mann formed the much more successful Manfred Mann's Earth Band, a band I never really took to.

For this collection, unsurprisingly tracks from those 2 albums dominate, but I have also included some tracks which were recorded for the shelved 3rd album. Some of these tracks first saw the light of day on the "Odds & Sods – Mis-takes & Out-takes" box set released in 2005. Mostly consisting of Manfred Mann's Earth Band songs, the first 5 tracks featured MMC3, 3 of which came from those 3rd album sessions. "Radio Days Vol. 3 - Live Sessions & Studio Rarities", released in 2019, featured more tracks from the shelved album. The track "Happy Being Me" from the 2nd album is almost 16 minutes in length, it's a decent tune but in my opinion way too long, so have shortened it somewhat. There was a single version released, but the editing was quite poor, otherwise I would have included that instead.

The blog Albums I Wish Existed has recreated the 3rd album, giving it the title "Fish & Chips". You can find it here, but only in mp3. For my anthology I decided to do a spoof on that title, naming it "Chips But No Fish" as it doesn't include the track "Fish". While the track in question has some interesting parts, as a whole I found it somewhat lacking, so it was an easy decision to exclude. 

Finally, a huge thanks to Manerg for his great help with this collection, including the cover art. Again, I hope you're all keeping safe out there, and you can enjoy this rather interesting (ahem) chapter in Manfred Mann's career!

  1. Snakeskin Garter (5:48)
  2. Poor Sad Sue (5:55)
  3. Train Crash (2:23)
  4. Sometimes (2:38)
  5. Time (7:22)
  6. Happy Being Me (edit) (3:53)
  7. So Sorry Please (8:15)
  8. Lady Ace (7:57)
  9. Turn You Away from My Door (3:26)
10. Ain't It Sad (1:57)
11. It's Good to Be Alive (3:29)
12. A Study in Inaccuracy (4:06)
13. Messin' Up the Land (8:42)
14. I Ain't Laughing (2:34)
15. One Way Glass (3:31)
16. Chips (2:09)
17. Travelling Lady (5:49)