Track Of The Week #37 – Them ‘Gloria’

Now to of all of us, ten, twenty years ago seems like more than a lifetime. So when we try to think back to something over fifty years old it proves to be almost impossible. Dating back to 1964, this week’s track is an exciting and riveting record. Not only is it a phenomenal piece of music, but went on the start an illustrious career for it’s creator as well as kickstarting a powerful trend within rock and roll. This week’s track of the week was written by no other than the legendary Irishman, Van Morrison before he pursued a solo career and was with his band ‘Them’. His rough, rugged and raw sound mixed in with his surprisingly soulful voice ensured that even a young, eighteen year-old boy from Ireland could make the big time, not just in the UK but over the pond too.’Them’ were formed in Belfast all the way back in 1964 and played a significant part in creating what was known as ‘Garage rock’, a genre which enabled bands to really build bridges in the rock and roll scene between the US and UK. Despite their relatively short stint at the top, the group also had a dramatic impact on groups such as The Doors and became major players in what went on to be known as ‘The British Invasion’ in the US.

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There is no doubt that this song is popular; so popular in fact that it can be found everywhere. It pops up at least once in all big television series, in every parent’s record collection and thanks to it’s simple three-chord structure, in every guitar playing manual imaginable. The song’s simplicity has to be one of the reasons that it has become so successful. It’s basic structure leaves itself open to a world of interpretation and one which a powerful roster of singers embraced with open arms. Jimi Hendrix, The Patti Smith Group and AC/DC we’re just a few of the names to cover the track. One of the most impressive features of the it’s simplicity was how Morrison himself would be able to chop and change whilst playing live, throwing in ad-lib lyrics and even sometimes stretching the song to around fifteen to twenty minutes long. For me, the most remarkable feature of the track is by far, it’s energy. It’s not often you come across such a song so basic yet exhilarating. Like Steppenwolf’s hit ‘Born To Be Wild’, it possesses that truly unique ‘road-trip’ feel, the sort which can be felt regardless of whether you own a 1965 Ford Mustang and whether the wind blowing through your hair is Californian or not. This track is a timeless masterpiece and one which defined the great British era of rock and roll which was to follow. It was released as part of a two-track EP on Decca records in 1964 and was accompanied by another explosive and riveting record in ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’. The EP created a storm around Them and before you know it, a few fall-outs later and Van Morrison had set sail on his long and illustrious solo career. The group’s image of long hair, corduroy trousers and slick, pressed suits ensured that the group weren’t just one of the sounds of the sixties, they were the look too.

Their swagger was only intensified by the presence of ‘lead-man-van’ as their frontman with his can-do attitude and his ‘middle-finger to the world’ style. However, if we’re to call ourselves anything along the lines of honest music fans then we mustn’t forget how it all started with ‘Them’… not him.

Listen & enjoy here –

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