THEM / Them:
Listen: Don’t Start Crying Now / Them
Listen: Philosophy / Them
Listen: Baby Please Don’t Go / Them
Listen: One Two Brown Eyes / Them
I can see now, very clearly, why Van Morrison grimaces at some of the material recorded with his original band. I read once that he disliked his vocal early on, and from the very first notes of this EP’s lead off track, ‘Don’t Start Crying Now’, I suddenly understand why.
Fast forward to November 30, 1989, Denny Cordell, by then an Island co-worker and a true friend, arranged for us to meet after Van’s Beacon Theater show in order to get my blank jukebox tab signed. Looking back, I’m still amazed. As promised, I was led into one of the small second floor dressing rooms by his tour manager where he was waiting. He’d been previously coached by Denny on my request, to fill in the A and B side songs, as well the artist name, in this case Them, on a blank jukebox tab for my collection and had agreed.
By quick explanation, my entire Seeburg 222 is filled with records whereby the corresponding jukebox tab is filled in, i.e autographed, by the artist or a member of that specific band. I always carry blanks just in case.
Knowing he had a distaste for all things Them, I timidly made my request very clear: I preferred this tab be for one of their singles, so as not to have any issue or weirdness once face to face. I was assured this was not going to be a problem. Disbelief grew but there we were, together in that small room. Van pleasantly asked me which single I wanted it for, I said one by Them please, in essence asking yet again, was that ok. He responded. “Sure, which song?”
“Okay, do you know what was on the B side, because I can’t remember”.
“Yes, it’s ‘Don’t You Know’, at least on my US pressing”, in an effort to make clear that was the song title as opposed to a cheeky question directed to him.
He took the pen, leaned over the table where the blank tab lay, and again asked, so where do I write the song title, to which I pointed at the top of the tab. He scribbled his name, tossed, didn’t throw nor didn’t gently set down, the pen and strolled out of the room leaving his tour manager and I somewhat baffled, to which he rolled his eyes, shrugging his shoulders with a “he’s unpredictable” or something like that.
I was rather pleased though. The stories about his mere true. How fun. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve gotten to tell people about Van Morrison’s manners.
Jukebox Tab signed by Van Morrison (above).
But they say every cloud has a silver lining. And it applies here.
Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames were Van Morrison’s backing band during this visit. They even were afforded a three song solo spot mid show whereby they performed ‘Yeh, Yeh’, ‘Get Away’ and ‘The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde’. Let me tell you, this surprise was an unexpected treat for many in the house besides me. Even before meeting up with Van, I was already plotting to find Georgie Fame later for an autographed tab request, which turned out most simple given he was in the very next dressing room. My only concern being, not having had a clue prior he was part of the lineup, I hadn’t prepared myself with B side info. Nonetheless, I proceed.
Georgie Fame was jovial and kindly, excitedly even, agreed to do the autograph on the spot, all smiles asking which song I’d like. ‘Yeh Yeh’ was honestly in my jukebox then, still is, and man does it sound terrific through those tube amps and speakers by the way. But I admitted, I wasn’t sure about the B side.
“No problem mate. It’s ‘Preach & Teach’, at least in England it was.”
Wow, Georgie Fame actually knows his releases all the way back. And he was right. ‘Preach & Teach’ is was.
A solid fifteen minute conversation began, him happily pouring out all kinds of stories about The Flamingo, The 100 Club, former manager Rik Gunnell and in full circle, his producer Denny Cordell, who by now had found us and had joined in. Once the two of them got going, well it was heaven.
Jukebox Tab signed by Georgie Fame (above).