The Searchers The Very Best Of Review

Compilation. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

The Searchers' main appeal is their period charm, which is considerable.

Jon Lusk 2008

Taking their name from the 1956 John Wayne western, this Liverpool beat group had their heyday between 1963 and 1966 with a string of hits – mostly covers – in the UK and US during the legendary 'British invasion'. This is hardly the first compilation charting their golden years and is very similar to the Union Square Music compilation (2006) of the same name. The most comprehensive is the 2 CD 40th Anniversary Collection (2003), covering their entire career (which limps on to this day inna hit-free retro stylee) but this new set excludes the b-sides featured in its earlier namesake, and includes a few later recordings.

Any fan of 60s pop will have heard their first and biggest hit, Sweets For My Sweet, and may be surprised by how much else is familiar. The group seem to have been unable or unwilling to update their crisply optimistic, teen-beat folk pop sound after that initial run, and the 1979 single, Hearts In Her Eyes, (featured here) must have sounded very dated in the post-punk era. Their version of Twist & Shout adds little to the definitive version by The Beatles, whose influence is apparent in many places.

Buddy Holly would seem another strong inspiration on songs like Sugar And Spice and Don't Throw Your Love Away. But if the chiming electric 12-string guitar of Someday We're Gonna Love Again sounds suspiciously like The Byrds, its release date (1964) suggests The Searchers influenced them. Other celebrity fans include Bruce Springsteen, who made When You Walk In The Room part of his live set for years, and The Ramones, who reprised The Searchers' classic Needles And Pins in a fabulously sneering 1978 take. Other notable tracks include Goodbye My Love, for its oddly wandering melody, and Four Strong Winds, which best showcases their rich vocal harmonies.

The lack of any really distinctive lead singer (a shifting line-up featured three during their peak years) isn't illuminated by the limited sleeve notes, and the narrow lyrical focus on romance may grate for some, likewise their trademark 'squareness'. But The Searchers' main appeal is their period charm, which is considerable.

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