Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Them (1965)

Anyone who might think that Van Morrison is more an artifact and purveyor of '70s post-folk singer/songwriter gentle on my mind fare (not that there's anything wrong with that) is referred directly to this mid-'60s debut of his Belfast band. "Gloria" alone, an instant standard for garage bands worldwide, should answer any further questions, but the yowling kick of the rest is all the way up to that classic and not to be missed. Comparable to early Bruce Springsteen and much of Patti Smith (both clearly influenced by Morrison and Them) in its full-on, breathtaking immersion in tumbling blasts of language—Bob Dylan is somewhat restrained by comparison—the poetry is accompanied by a bluesy band as raw as the scrapes on knees and elbows after a spill from a bicycle. They rock very hard and so does Van Morrison.

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