Friday, August 20, 2010

The Drone Zone: Them, "Square Room"

Most people who have heard of the band Them at all know it as Van Morrison's early band, which he left in 1966 to pursue a solo career. As one of rock's all-time great vocalists, Van Morrison would go on to much greater success, leaving behind his early garage punk days (with Them hits like the timeless "Gloria", "Here Come The Night", and "Mystic Eyes"). The rest of the band, though, soldiered on, and while they did not find commercial success, Them cut five more records before throwing in the towel in 1972. Losing a singer as distinctive as Morrison may have set them back in terms of sales, but there was still plenty of talent in the band, and their post-Morrison records are full of garage rock energy. Moving to the US, they embraced the West Coast psychedelic sound, and in 1968 released the excellent Now And Them album, which sounds sort of like an Irish version of the Doors' first album. Coincidentally, Them had once shared a stage with the Doors, who opened for them during a residence at the famed Whisky-A-Go-Go in 1966. The Doors must have made an impression, as the track "Square Room" shows—it's very similar in tone and length to the infamous Doors epic "The End", with creepy, snaking guitars, but minus Jimbo's Oedipal outbursts. For those who like the music of "The End" but can do without the "poetry", this track will be most welcome. [For the record, I do love the Doors, but sometimes Jim Morrison can grate. Exhibit A: "Horse Latitudes"—'nuff said.]

Them, "Square Room":

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