The Searchers

40th Anniversary Collection

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This reviewer is usually loathe to give compilation albums the highest rating, as they have an unfair advantage over original albums; and it's not as though there aren't already good multi-CD sets on the Searchers, including their 30th Anniversary Collection from Sequel Records. But this two-disc, 56-song collection goes into territory where the early triple-disc set never ventured as the first Searchers compilation to encompass not only their most familiar work on Pye Records, but also Phonogram, RCA, Sire, PRT, and Coconut Records. It also avails itself of the vast expansion of the band's tape library in recent decades, including demos and live tracks, all in state-of-the-art sound. The result is not only the first truly comprehensive overview of this group, which never had a bad or a dull period, but also their best-sounding account in terms of the sharpness of the remastering. What may surprise even longtime fans is how well their 1963 vintage demos and live tracks come off as performances. Based on the evidence here, these guys were ready to record that far back and had some edges that were a lot rougher and sometimes sharper than the polished, rhythm guitar focused sound that they later cultivated in the studio. In a sense, listening to this collection from front to back is a lot like going through the Beatles' history, except that the Searchers never took a left turn into psychedelia or, with the exceptions of Tony Jackson and Chris Curtis, developed egos that threatened the integrity of the group. The 2003 remastering has also given their stuff a startling immediacy of impact that outstrips their best prior CDs. You can actually hear the action on the guitars and the drums on this collection, especially on "Sweets for My Sweet" and "Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya," the two earliest official releases. The rhythm guitars on "Needles and Pins" and "When You Walk in the Room" chime loud and melodiously in the best mastering job they've ever received, and, for the first time, one gets to hear the linear evolution of their sound from "Sweets for My Sweet" to "Hearts in Her Eyes" to "Innocent Victim." The annotation is extremely well detailed and includes the latest lineup changes in the group, and the entire double-disc set is a masterful achievement, finally giving this appropriately long-lived group its due as legendary participants in the original British beat boom of the early 1960s. The quality on the '60s hits makes this almost as desirable and essential as the latest round of Rolling Stones reissues, and the melodic content will appeal to (and surprise) anyone who loves the Beatles' 1963-1966 sound, while the '70s and early-'80s stuff will be a revelation for anyone who remembers the power pop boom of that era.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:24 Amazon
3:22 Amazon
3 2:07 Amazon
4 2:51
5 2:21
6 2:21
7 2:29
8 2:13 Amazon
9 2:00 Amazon
10 2:16 Amazon
11 2:08 Amazon
12 2:13 Amazon
13 1:45
14 2:24 Amazon
15 2:16
16 2:24
18 2:22 Amazon
19 2:05
20 2:34 Amazon
21 2:10
22 2:10
23 2:32 Amazon
25 2:41
26 3:29 Amazon
27 2:14 Amazon
28 2:37 Amazon
29 2:11
30 2:42
31 3:08
32 2:49
blue highlight denotes track pick