The Searchers

At the Iron Door: Their Earliest Recordings

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In early 1963, the Searchers recorded 11 songs at a Liverpool club at which they often played, The Iron Door, to tape and (successfully) submit as demos to Pye Records. Although it was known that a few acetates of these demos had been pressed, just one copy (in the possession of the Searchers' Tony Jackson) was eventually discovered to have survived. The Iron Door Sessions contains all 11 tracks from that acetate, and is a notable historical discovery for Merseybeat aficionados and indeed British Invasion fanatics in general. It is not, however, a great recording, though it's listenable and enjoyable. An unavoidable problem is the fidelity, both due to the non-studio recording conditions and the mastering from acetate, rather than the original tapes. The sound is understandably kind of thin, and at times the inadequacies become significant, as when some of the backup vocals on "Ain't That Just Like Me" can barely be heard. Perhaps more significantly, while respectable and energetic, and close in sound to the Searchers' early records, it's not quite as good or polished as those early Searchers discs. That becomes especially evident when comparing the versions of "Sweet for My Sweet," "Ain't That Just Like Me" (heard here minus the extended raveup section that made the Searchers' recorded version so original), and "All My Sorrows" to the later Pye studio takes. These demos do prove that the Searchers had basically already refined their sound to something very close to what was captured slightly later on official Pye releases. More interestingly, there are several covers here that never showed up on those '60s Pye releases (or even on the live Star-Club album), including "Jambalaya," "Let's Stomp," and "Maggie Mae" (yes, the same folk song that the Beatles did a snatch of on Let It Be). Also interesting is the sole original, "Darling Do You Miss Me," which was slightly reconfigured as the 1964 B-side "I'll Be Missing You."

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