Various Artists

Unearthed Merseybeat, Vol. 3: The Dawn of a New Era 1957-1968

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The third volume in the Unearthed Merseybeat series follows the same pattern as the previous two editions, with 20 rare, mostly unreleased cuts whose value might be more archival than purely musical. There's some genuinely good music here, though, and even what isn't so good helps illuminate the dustier corners of the Merseybeat sound, which encompassed more than just the Beatles or bands playing in what most people think of as the Merseybeat style. If you do like that Merseybeat style, however, there's some of that here, and generally they're the best tracks on the CD. The Kinsleys, a spin-off of the Merseybeats, offer some archetypal catchy, innocuous Merseybeat with the 1964 recording "Do Me a Favour," which the Swinging Blue Jeans would rework a little later for their single "Promise You'll Tell Her." The Merseybeats themselves are represented by a good 1965 outtake of "Soldier of Love," though it isn't nearly as good as the Beatles' 1963 BBC version. Both of these tracks are in excellent studio quality, but Gerry & the Pacemakers' 1961 recording "Pretend," like some of the other material here, is taken from a muffled, lo-fi source. The same thing goes for the two cuts by the only other group here to have hits in the U.S., the Swinging Blue Jeans, which were cut live in 1960. Of the remaining songs, the best are the two psychedelic ones by Jimmy Campbell ("Michaelangelo") and his group the 23rd Turnoff ("Flowers Are Flowering"), which are among the few relics that show a Liverpool '60s band other than the Beatles convincingly moving into psychedelic pop. Some of the other tracks verge on the purely documentary in value, whether presenting average rock & roll covers or generic if modestly enjoyable early Merseybeat (the Four Originals, the Connoisseurs, Steve Day & the Kinsmen). Rarities by a couple more interesting names, however, are on hand with just-ex-Searchers-drummer Chris Curtis' unissued 1966 track "(Baby) You Don't Have to Tell Me" (shelved when the Walker Brothers issued the same song) and the Merseys' 1966 cover of Sam Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love." Like the other volumes in this series, this one is given comprehensive liner notes explaining the origins of these obscurities.