Jim Armstrong, Kenny McDowell, and Ray Elliot, of the band Them, soldiered on in various psychsploitative efforts following the mid-‘60s departure of Van Morrison as lead vocalist of that group. Many people don’t know that Them soldiered on, over two psychsploitative LPs for the Tower label (Now and Them, and Time Out! Time In for Them; bassist Alan Henderson, who did not play in Truth, continued to use the name for two shredding records with pickup musicians on the Happy Tiger label – a second self-titled record, with Jerry Cole replacing most of the band, and Them – In Reality, a driving power trio record with Henderson and two members of Los Angeles’s the Kitchen Cinq). Once the core lineup tired of the L.A. setup they’d fallen into, Armstrong and McDowell reconvened in Chicago, with Elliot to follow. They were joined by Buckinghams bassist Curtis Bachman and Baby Huey’s drummer Reno Smith, developing their own approach to masterful West Coast psych. These results were never officially released to the public until the mid-‘90s, and not on vinyl until now. The wait was as interminable as it was worth it.
Of THEM and Other Tales is a prime example of how to successfully blend common influences to a greater effect, rather than to frame some windbag vocalist, or make a statement from which the pin has already been pulled. Moby Grape springs to mind throughout (particularly on opener “Music is Life” and the satisfyingly titled “Music from Big Puce”), as does the music of Love, Spirit and the Grateful Dead, but for the most part, you get the sense that Truth were cutting through the brush to form their own path, all members playing at the absolute top of their form, jammy without overdoing it (even on the tracks featuring sitar – Of THEM And Other Tales reprises Them mk. II’s Eastern-flavored “Square Room” – an instrument that was abused in those times, but sounds natural and free from restraint here), letting a singular voice out into the nethers. Duped by managers and having a signed deal with Epic slip from their grasp at the last minute, it’s astounding as to the level of quality they were able to maintain from what appears to be only two recording sessions (eleven tracks cut for a movie that nobody saw, and three more, surfaced here from an acetate delivered to Epic’s UK offices).
Others have said much about the veracity of claims to unearthed, unreleased material from unknown bands, from a timeline set far back enough that most people who would have seen or heard the band aren’t around to talk about it anymore. Shame, then, that Truth never got their due. Their playing was front-forward and confident, and the sound quality is pristine for most of the tracks, not succumbing to the notion of decaying masters or abused, sub-par material. Their spirit of improvisation fits with the time, but gives the proceedings a sense that things are going somewhere. Zip yourself in; this could very well become some of your favorite music of the era.