Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: Them - Richard Cory and Don't You Know

Richard Cory
Don't You Know
Day 2 of our Parrot Records Spotlight. Squawk! 

Northern Ireland's Them had to have been Parrot's most heart warming success story. The unknown Belfast quartet, you see, was fronted by a diminutive man with a big voice, Mr. Van Morrison, who went on to write a song or two in his day. The first release of Them in the US was the January '65 release of Baby, Please Don't Go with a Flip-Side of G-L-O-R-I-A...Gloria. That wasn't the hit you may think it was. It was the Chicago garage band, The Shadows of Knight, who turned that first Parrot Flip-Side into a US hit, not Them. The easy to play song took-off on stages all across the country and the musicians started to look closer at the little Irish band whose singer wrote the tale of teenage sexual frustration. 

Today we look at one of Them's lesser known releases on Parrot Records, Richard Cory. It's Them's 6th release (of seven) and it was released in the US on May 28th of 1966. The single went nowhere fast. The A-Side is kinda a cover of a Simon and Garfunkel song "written" by Paul Simon. In reality Paul Simon wrote the music, but the lyrics are a direct lift from the poem, Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson of Maine in 1897. The song, like the poem, tells the tale of a well todo man who is the beacon of his community. The story is told from a third person admirer who lusts for Richard Cory's life of wealth, privilege and excellence. Then one day, our narrator is shocked to learn that Richard Cory, the man who had it all, went home and put a bullet through his head. An act that our narrator still yearns to emulate. For years I heard rumors that Jimmy Page played the baritone guitar on Richard Cory but I have not been able to unearth credible evidence to suggest as much. Anyone? There is another version of Richard Cory that has surfaced on some odds and ends records out there. It is quite different with no baritone guitar, a more languid pace and a big heap of country styled harmonica. 

We're including the Flip-Side of Richard Cory, which is the very strong jazzy number Don't You Know, written by producer Tommy Scott. Scott, incidentally, wrote the A-Side of the preceding Them single, Call My Name, as well as the last Them single (with Van Morrison at least), the hugely influential I Can Only Give You Everything
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!


  1. interesting info, never knew the history of that song , remember noticing it being covered by range of artists eg them and i think wings in concert,there was certainly a theme running through that s&g album[uk vers] with rock,peculiar man,and richard cory etc

  2. btw that's a great flip had no idea them were doing tracks like this i wonder if tom scott had session musicians in with van,with the brushes and flute there's a feel of one of his early solo alboms

    1. I think it's a good bet they were all session musicians. Them weren't too hot on their instruments. If you listen to their BBC stuff you can really tell the difference in quality live v. studio. And then when Van Morrison left the band and they got dropped by Decca, the quality of the musicianship went waaaaaay down.

      BTW, all of Them's singles are really good. Both sides. Check them out. Also Deram has a great double disc called The Story of Them featuring Van Morrison. All their stuff.