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Denny Laine, Charlatans (US), Them – 7″ Vinyl EPs

January 17, 2020

The Charlatans Live 1967


  1. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
  2. Lulu’s Back In Town (Al Dubin & Harry Warren)
  3. KSAN-FM Radio Commercial
  4. I Always Wanted A Girl Like You (George Hunter & Richard Ohlsen)
  5. Alabama Bound (Robert Hoffman)

Tracks 1 – 2, 4 – 5 recorded at the Straight Theatre 22.7.67 for San Francisco radio station KSAN-FM


George L. L. Hunter (autoharp, vocals)

Richard “Baby Face” Ohlsen (bass, vocals)

Michael “Slim Pickens” Wilhelm (lead guitar, vocals)

Byron “Mike” Ferguson (piano, keyboards, vocal)

Daniel “California” Hicks (drums, rhythm guitar, vocals)

The founder of the Charlatans was George Hunter, who conceived of the band as a visual experience. Even before their first rehearsal the band had publicity pictures taken exploring the mythic possibilities of Victorian and Old West costume. Rolling Stone magazine described the Charlatans musical trademark as “a jaunty, ragtime rhythm that was of a piece with their style.  Their repertoire remained essentially folk material – blues, ballads, good time jug band tunes plus a few original numbers and the odd Rolling Stones tune. “ Mike Wilhelm takes lead vocals for the opening Fulsome Prison Blues, a brave choice at a time when country music was seen as old-fashioned and reactionary. Lulu’s Back In Town is a short instrumental, followed by a sprightly I Always Wanted A Girl Like You and the closing Albama Bound, the band’s signature song which allowed them to stretch out instrumentally. The Charlatans never enjoyed the popularity or commercial success that their innovative musical and visual approach so richly deserved. A disappointing studio LP was released by a later line-up on Phillips in 1969, albeit with a cool accompanying KSAN radio ad. Only in 1996 would Big Beat release a definitive collection of studio tracks on CD as “The Amazing Charlatans”. The same songs finally made it onto vinyl in 2016 as “The Limit Of The Marvellous”. Dan Hicks had some success fronting Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks whilst Mike Wilhelm formed his own band Loose Gravel and then became a member of The Flamin’ Groovies. Sadly after a long illness Mike Wilhelm died in May 2019.

Sleeve notes: Phil More


Them Live 1965-67

Side A

  1. Mystic Eyes
  2. Gloria

Side B

  1. One More Time
  2. If You And I Could Be As Two

Tracks 1 and 2 recorded for French TV live in Paris October 19th 1965, Tracks 3 and 4 recorded in Deventer, Holland on September 3rd 1967 for Dutch TV

All songs written by Van Morrison


Van Morrison – vocals and harmonica

Alan Henderson – bass 91,2)

Billy Harrison – guitar (1,2)

Jackie McAuley – organ (1, 2)

Patrick McCauley – drums (1,2)

Herman Brood – piano (3,4)

Eelco Gelling – guitar (3.,4)

Willy Middel – bass (3,4

Hans Waterman – drums (3,4)


The title of debut LP The Angry Young Them seems an apt summary of their stance. Originally from Belfast the band had to fight hard to make it in London, which they did after a startling performance of Baby Please Don’t Go on Ready Steady Go.

The Paris performances show Them to be a gritty r’n’b band driven by Jackie McAuley’s organ. Mystic Eyes begins with a raucous instrumental passage which highlights the bands instrumental prowess before the entry of Morrison’s vocal. Garage band anthem G-L-O-R-I-A gets a brief workout with effective call-and-response vocals.  A later show in Holland saw Van Morrison backed by Dutch blues band Cuby + Blizzards and showcases slower, more soulful tunes. One More Time features guitar rather than organ whilst the spoken passages in If You And I Could Be As Two are totally convincing.

Greil Marcus has a theory as to why Them were not more successful. “Van Morrison was as intense and imaginative a performer as any to emerge from the first wave of the post-Beatles British invasion.  But it was clear to those who saw his early live shows in 1965 that Morrison lacked the flash and flair for pop stardom possessed by clearly inferior singers such as Keith Relf of the Yardbirds or Eric Burdon of the Animals.”  Morrison would go on to find solo success in 1969 with his more reflective LP Astral Weeks.

Sleeve notes: Madame George




From → Music, Vinyl

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