There are worse things a once-great band can do than break up. They can NOT break up, and then try to regain lost fame by recreating their finest moments using all the benefits of modern pop technology -- like this. By 1971, Merseybeat veterans the Searchers were reduced to just a couple of founding members and a spot recycling their old hits on the cabaret circuit. But "Don't Throw Your Love Away," "Needles and Pins," "Sugar and Spice," and "When You Walk in the Room" were great records, a great sound, great memories. So, when RCA invited the group into the studio to recapture those glories for a new day and age, the Searchers jumped so quickly that they didn't even stop to read the small print on their old record contracts -- particularly the bit that said they weren't allowed to re-record their hit records for any other company. An album, Second Take, was released in late 1972; the lawyers swooped a few milliseconds later. The album was withdrawn, RCA dropped the group, and within a year the Searchers were back playing cabaret. Of course they would return again, with Sire in the post-punk late '70s, but that's another anthology entirely. Those lost RCA recordings, however, have their own tale to tell, and this 25-track collection not only reprises Second Take for the first time since a blink-and-you'll-miss-it British budget reissue in 1974, it also serves up eight 45-only cuts from 1972/1973 and five more unreleased nuggets from the very end of the band's RCA career. It's slick. But it's also staggering. Tight harmonies, taut playing, breathtakingly complex arrangements, the Searchers of the early '70s were a majestic proposition which needed nothing more than a sympathetic songwriter to raise them to quite dizzying heights. Listen to the slightly later likes of Paper Lace, Pilot, and, most of all, Smokey, and you know precisely what the Searchers were seeking. Listen to the Searchers' own retakes of "When You Walk in the Room" and "Needles and Pins," and you can see where the Flaming Groovies were coming from. So yes, there are worse things a once great band can do than break up. They can NOT break up, only to struggle on in obscurity because nobody cares enough to listen any more.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson