‘The Complete Them’ shines light on Van Morrison’s early career

Them‘The Complete Them 1964-1967’
Them (Legacy)
5 stars out of 5

Before becoming a bona fide international sensation as a solo performer, Irish singer/songwriter Van Morrison teamed up with pals Alan Henderson, Ronnie Millings, Billy Harrison and Eric Wrixon to form garage rock outfit Them. Though just 18 when the band first performed in front of an audience, it was clear that Morrison was a budding superstar. Three-CD set “The Complete Them 1964-1967” is the most thorough collection of the band’s early studio and live performances ever assembled, with 69 total tracks — including 20 that have never been available before — clocking in at well over three hours.

Them CD“Them was intended as a vehicle, a way for me to sing and play the blues,” Morrison says in the album’s liner notes. “We started playing at a club in Belfast called the Maritime Hotel. Nobody else was, as they say, brave enough to do it. However, our recordings were not really recognized until after I had some success in my own right, under my own name.”

This terrific set gives Them the attention their music so richly deserves. There are plenty of familiar tunes — “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Gloria,” “Here Comes the Night,” “I Put a Spell on You,” “Mystic Eyes” — plus an assortment of lesser-known gems, alternate takes and live performances. This one’s a must for Morrison fans. (Jeffrey Sisk)

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