Friday, June 22, 2012

Them: Baby Please Don't Go

In 1935, Big Joe Williams wrote and recorded a song that would later become a rock classic – “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” The original recording had the original Sonny Boy Williamson on harmonica (there were two if you didn’t realize it). The first didn’t receive the fame as the later usurper of the name; however, that’s another story entirely.

The Belfast, Northern Ireland band Them entered the studio in late 1964 and recorded “Baby Please Don’t Go” as their next single release. The song featured Van Morrison on vocals and harmonica and lead guitar by band mate Billy Harrison. Jimmy Page was hired as a session musician and provided the rhythm guitar parts.

The recording also included two drummers and two keyboardists that featured band members Ronnie Millings and Pat McAuley and session musicians Bobby Graham and Peter Bardens on their respective instruments. Them bassist Alan Henderson also appears on the track.

Was it an “A” side or a “B” side? The answer is yes. Originally issued in the UK and the US as the “A” side, the American release on Parrot Records failed to break the Hot 100 charts peaking at #102. It was a top 10 hit in the UK and its success may have been due to the band appearing alongside The Rolling Stones on “Rock Steady Go!”

Later in 1966, London Records in the US decided to re-release the single on their Parrot subsidiary with the original “B” side, “Gloria,” as the “A” side. It is interesting that as a “B” side, “Baby Please Don’t Go” did better that it did previously as an “A” side. The second time around it charted at #71. It also beat all odds by outpacing “Gloria,” the “A” side which only charted at #93.

Later 1971 Rerelease

The band later re-recorded “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Gloria” in 1971 with John Stark singing lead. It is quite different from their original single release and appears the album “Them . . . In Reality” released on the on the Happy Tiger label. The band was a three piece at the time and used a session drummer. I think I’ll stick to the original.

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