It has been a pretty big year for Van Morrison, both with new recordings and reissues. At the beginning of 2015, he released his latest studio effort, Duets- Re-Working the Catalogue. In August, it was announced that Sony/Legacy Recordings had acquired the rights to the majority of his catalogue. The label quickly released an Essential volume and put 33 albums up on digital services with the promise of more projects to come. Then, just last week, Rhino released expanded editions of two of Morrison’s albums, Astral Weeks and His Band and Street Choir. (Rhino still controls the rights to those two albums, together with Moondance. They gave Moondance the box-set treatment in 2013). Now, Legacy has announced that they will release the first of its promised archival projects on December 4: The Complete Them 1964-1967.
Them, formed in 1964, was not the first band that Van Morrison had joined. But they were the first to gain an international following outside of Ireland. Morrison recorded two albums and numerous singles (including the classic “Gloria”) with the group between 1964 and 1967, released on Decca in the UK and Parrot in the US. Legal issues arose within the band and Morrison departed for Bang Records, releasing his first solo single, “Brown-Eyed Girl” in June, 1967. The rest, as they say, is history.
The new 69-track, 3-CD set from Legacy contains all of the group’s released recordings together with a disc of rarities and unreleased material. Much of this material has been anthologized in the past, including on Deram’s 1997 compilation The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison (although that release had some mono tracks rechanneled into stereo and did not have the complete recordings.) We’ve got Legacy’s press release below together with the full tracklisting and discographical information. If you’d like to explore some of Van Morrison’s earliest work, you may pre-order the set due on December 4 at the Amazon links below.
NEW YORK – Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release THE COMPLETE THEM 1964-1967, a comprehensive 3-CD anthology bringing together the historic first recordings of Van Morrison, on December 4, 2015.
The most thorough collection of Morrison’s early studio and live performances ever assembled, THE COMPLETE THEM 1964-1967 includes all material recorded for the first two THEM albums–THE ANGRY YOUNG THEM (1965) and THEM AGAIN (1966)–in addition to singles, demos, live sessions, alternate takes and rarities (from 1964-1967), many of them long unavailable or previously unreleased.
All tracks on THE COMPLETE THEM 1964-1967 have been newly remastered for this collection, ensuring the best possible listening experience for both new and seasoned fans of Van Morrison.
An essential showcase chronicling the historic beginnings of Van Morrison’s 50+ year career as one of modern rock music’s most significant and influential singers, songwriters and performers, THE COMPLETE THEM 1964-1967 is being released as part of the exclusive licensing agreement struck between SME/Legacy and Morrison’s own Exile Productions Ltd earlier this year.
THE COMPLETE THEM 1964-1967 package includes an insightful new commentary on THEM provided by Van Morrison.
Formed in Belfast, Ireland in the early 1960s, THEM’s original five man lineup consisted of Van Morrison (lead vocals, saxophone, harmonica), Alan Henderson (bass guitar), Ronnie Millings (drums), Billy Harrison (guitar, vocals) and Eric Wrixon (keyboards). Taking their name from a 1954 science-fiction horror film, THEM played for the first time in April 1964 at Belfast’s Maritime Hotel, their set consisting of raw dynamic interpretations of R&B, blues and soul music fueled by 18-year-old Van Morrison’s undeniable power, presence and charisma. Within a few weeks, THEM became the hottest band in Belfast, packing the Maritime with overflow crowds and spontaneous, dynamic shows.
Van Morrison and THEM’s reputation led to a contract with Decca Records, who brought the group to the label’s studio in West Hampstead, England for Van’s first recording session on July 5, 1964. Van Morrison’s classic “Gloria” and THEM’s version of “Turn on Your Love Light” were recorded as well as THEM’s first single–“Don’t Start Crying Now” c/w “One Two Brown Eyes”–and “Groovin’,” “Philosophy” and a smoking version of Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.” Session musicians were brought in to augment the THEM lineup, which would become increasingly fluid over the course of the band’s brief career. It was apparent early on that Van Morrison was essentially THEM and that his trajectory as a solo artist, working with a variety of backup musicians, was inevitable.
The second THEM single–a version of Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” c/w Van’s original composition “Gloria”–featured Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar. In December 1964, THEM appeared for the first time on television, along with the Rolling Stones on “Ready Steady Go!”
THEM’s next single, “Here Comes the Night,” written and produced by Bert Berns, shot up to #2 on the UK charts in March 1965 and would later become their first single in the US, where the group was marketed as part of pop music’s “British Invasion.” THEM charted in America in 1965 with both “Here Comes the Night” and “Mystic Eyes.”
Decca released THE ANGRY YOUNG THEM in June 1965, with a US release (on Parrott Records) in July; THEM AGAIN came out in the UK in January 1966 with a subsequent US release in April 1966. THEM crossed the Atlantic for a US tour in May 1966, holding down an historic residency at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, with the Doors as their opening act. THEM headlined at the Fillmore in San Francisco with Van Morrison leaving the group later in 1966.
Van Morrison and THEM’s immortal “Gloria,” recorded in 1964, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and was ranked at #208 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Van Morrison has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1993) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (2003) and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.
Winner of a BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music (1994), Van Morrison holds six Grammy Awards (1996-2007) and an Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement (1995).
Morrison has been named one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time (2004, #42), 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (2008, #24) and 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time (2015, #22). Van the Man has two albums on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and four songs–including “Brown Eyed Girl” (#109) and “Gloria” (with Them) (#208)–on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
An internationally successful artist with chart-topping hits on both sides of the Atlantic, Van Morrison has six gold and three platinum/multiplatinum certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America. In the UK alone, Van has charted with more than 20 Top 20 albums, including an astounding 13 titles placed in the Top 10.
On Friday, June 12, 2015, Van Morrison was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II during her annual Birthday Honours celebration. Newly-titled Sir George Ivan Morrison, the artist received the United Kingdom’s highest individual honor for his “services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland.”
“Throughout my career I have always preferred to let my music speak for me, and it is a huge honor to now have that body of work recognized in this way,” said Van Morrison in a statement given in response to the news, reported the BBC.
On June 18, Morrison received the Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala in New York City.
Van Morrison celebrated his 70th birthday on August 31, 2015 with “Van Morrison: Live on Cyprus Avenue,” two concert performances serving as part of the closing event of the Belfast EastSide Arts Festival 2015.
CD 1 (1964-1965)
- Don’t Start Crying Now
- One Two Brown Eyes
- Baby Please Don’t Go
- Here Comes The Night
- All For Myself
- One More Time
- How Long Baby
- Mystic Eyes
- If You And I Could Be As Two
- Little Girl (album version)
- Just A Little Bit
- I Gave My Love A Diamond
- You Just Can’t Win
- Go On Home Baby
- Don’t Look Back
- I Like It Like That
- I’m Gonna Dress In Black
- Bright Lights, Big City
- My Little Baby
- (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66
- (It Won’t Hurt) Half As Much
CD 2 (1966-1967)
- Could You Would You
- Something You Got
- Call My Name (album version)
- Turn On Your Love Light
- I Put A Spell On You
- I Can Only Give You Everything
- My Lonely Sad Eyes
- I Got A Woman
- Out Of Sight
- It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
- Bad Or Good
- Hello Josephine
- Don’t You Know
- Hey Girl
- Bring ‘Em On In (album version)
- Richard Cory
- Friday’s Child
- The Story Of Them Part 1
- The Story Of Them Part 2
- Baby What You Want Me To Do
- Stormy Monday Blues
- Times Getting Tougher Than Tough
CD 3 (Demos, Sessions & Rarities 1964-1967)
- Don’t Start Crying Now (demo)
- Gloria (demo)
- One Two Brown Eyes (demo)
- Stormy Monday Blues (demo)
- Turn On Your Love Light (alternate version)
- Baby Please Don’t Go (Take 4)
- Here Comes The Night (Take 2)
- Gloria (Live on BBC’s “Saturday Club”)
- All For Myself (Live on BBC’s “Saturday Club”)
- Here Comes The Night (Live on BBC’s “Saturday Club”)
- Little Girl (version one)
- Go On Home Baby (Take 4)
- I Gave My Love A Diamond (Take 8)
- (It Won’t Hurt) Half As Much (Take 2)
- My Little Baby (Take 1)
- How Long Baby (Take 1)
- One More Time (Take 14)
- Gloria (Live on BBC’s “Saturday Club”)
- Here Comes The Night (Live on BBC’s “Saturday Club”)
- One More Time (Live on BBC’s “Saturday Club”)
- Call My Name (single version)
- Bring ‘Em On In (single version)
- Mighty Like A Rose
- Richard Cory (Alternate Version)
Disc 1, Tracks 1-2 from Decca UK Single F-11973, 1964
Disc 1, Tracks 3-4 from Decca UK Single F-12018, 1964
Disc 1, Track 5 from Decca UK EP DFE-8612, 1965
Disc 1, Tracks 6-7 from Decca UK Single F-12094, 1965
Disc 1, Tracks 8-9 from Decca UK Single F-12175, 1965
Disc 1, Tracks 10-22 from The “Angry” Young Them!, Decca UK LP LK4700, 1965
Disc 1, Track 23 from Decca UK Single F-12215, 1965
Disc 2, Tracks 1-15 from Them Again, Decca UK LP LK4751, 1966
Disc 2, Track 16 from Decca UK Single F-12403, 1966
Disc 2, Track 17 from Major Minor UK Single MM-509, 1967
Disc 2, Tracks 18-19 from Major Minor UK Single MM-513, 1967
Disc 2, Tracks 20-22 from Decca Netherlands EP BU70500, 1967
Disc 3, Tracks 1-10, 12-20, 24 Previously Unreleased
Disc 3, Track 11 possibly from England’s Greatest Hitmakers (Also known as The Lord’s Taverner’s Charity Album), Decca UK LP 4695, 1965
Disc 3, Tracks 21-22 from Parrot Single 45-9819, 1966
Disc 3, Track 23 Originally unreleased, released on London LP Backtrackin‘, 1974