Various Artists

Songs of Leiber & Stoller

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This is an offbeat collection, coming out of England, where Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were regarded, if anything, even more highly by the early-'60s rockers there than they were over here. Drawn from the archives of Pye Records, the artists featured are wonderfully obscure by American standards -- the Searchers' "Love Potion No. 9" is here, but so is British rockabilly star Joe Brown, doing a live rendition of "Girls, Girls, Girls," and Johnny Sandon (who originally fronted the Searchers) and the Remo Four turn in a sweetly romantic, almost doo-wop-style "Yes." We also hear from the Hi-His ("I Keep Forgettin'"), the Spectres in a swirlingly dramatic, organ-dominated setting ("I Who Have Nothing"), the Overlanders ("Along Came Jones"), Emil Ford and the Checkmates ("Trouble"), the Kestrels ("Dance With Me"), the Rockin' Berries ("Brother Bill"), Gene and the Gents ("Hound Dog"), and the Puppets ("Poison Ivy"). There's no information on any of these acts in the notes, though there is a pretty full account of Leiber's and Stoller's careers. Apple completists may want to note the presence of one track by the Takers (aka the Undertakers), Jackie Lomax's original group, in what is the best of the obscurities, a surging, bold, soaring, soulful version of "If You Don't Come Back," driven by the sweet sax playing of Brian Jones (the other one) and the powerful drumming of Bugs Pemberton. The other groups try so hard that it's difficult to fault any of them, though the Overlanders add nothing to "Along Came Jones." There's also one major mistake here -- the song credited as "Some Other Guy" by the Searchers is really "Someday We're Gonna Love Again," a very different number.