Van Morrison / Them

I Can Only Give You Everything

Composed by Phil Coulter / Tommy Scott

Song Review by

Although "I Can Only Give You Everything" was, unlike most of Them's material, neither a Van Morrison original nor an R&B cover, Morrison and the band (or, quite likely, session musicians, which were often used on Them sessions) made the tough, stomping number entirely their own. The record leads off with an urgent, ascending fuzz guitar riff, perhaps influenced by the one in the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." Against a stomping beat, Morrison delivers one of his toughest, most snarling vocals ever, and indeed one of the snottiest vocals of the entire British Invasion. The parallels with "Satisfaction" become more evident when Morrison repeats the phrase "and I try" a couple of times toward the end of the verses, like the Rolling Stones do in their hit single, though the melody is different. While Morrison didn't write the lyric, and who knew what he really felt about doing a song that had been supplied by outside songwriters, his vocal was an utterly convincing mixture of aggressive and desperate pursuit of affection. A galvanizing instrumental organ break ends with a sudden key change that ups the excitement for Morrison to drive the song home with the final verse, milking his characteristic way of drawing out syllables for all they're worth. "I Can Only Give You Everything" was only an album track, not a single, but it proved an unusually popular cover choice among American garage bands, most notably the MC5, who did a relatively straightforward version on their first single. The best cover, though, was undoubtedly done by the Troggs, as Reg Presley's vocal leer was well-suited for the open-hearted lust of the lyric. In the new wave era, it was also done by Richard Hell.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison 1997 Deram 2:39
Nuggets, Vol. 2: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire & Beyond 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:42
blue highlight denotes editor's pick