Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981
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Audio CD, December 8, 2017
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During the British Invasion, there was another Liverpool band topping the charts worldwide. The Searchers had 11 Top 40 hits between 1963 and 1966 in the UK, including 3 #1’s with “Needles And Pins,” “Sweets For My Sweet,” and “Don’t Throw Our Love Away.” They had 8 in the US including their #3 cover of “Love Potion No. 9.” By the end of the decade, their chart presence may have slowed down, but The Searchers didn’t. The band continued to hone their sound on the live circuit, adding a modern musical crunch to their incredible harmonies. After being seen by Sire Records head Seymour Stein, he offered them a new home on his new wave flagship label (Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Boys, and soon, Pretenders). The Searchers returned in 1979 with a self-titled release, featuring originals and covers of tracks from Tom Petty, The Records, Bob Dylan, and “Switchboard Susan” – a concurrent hit for Nick Lowe. Produced by Pat Moran (Be Bop Deluxe, Dr. Feelgood, and Rush – yes, that Rush), it was a sonic powerhouse. They quickly followed the self-titled album in the next year with Love’s Melodies (titled Play For Today in the UK), with Ed Stasium (Ramones, Talking Heads, Smithereens) joining Moran as co-producer. More originals, and more covers (Big Star, Moon Martin, and others), and another great album. Both records were released multiple times in different territories, with different track lists, B-sides, and mixes. They have been unavailable for the past decade. Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981 straightens out and corrects all those matters by compiling everything onto one 2-CD set. The collection features 29 tracks and also includes a previously unissued cover of john Hiatt’s “Ambulance Chaser.” Packaging contains album cover artwork from the different territories, and an essay from Scott Schinder, with new interviews from the band’s Mike Pender, John McNally, and Frank Allen. These recordings have continued to loom large in the hearts of Searchers fans. They need to search no more with Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981.
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Pat Moran’s production of the first album, recorded at the same Rockfield Studios that served Dave Edmunds and the Flamin’ Groovies, has the clean sound of the era’s pop hits. The band’s two originals (“This Kind of Love Affair” and “Don’t Hang On”) are complemented by songs written by upcoming and established songwriters. The memorable “Hearts in Her Eyes” was written for the band by the Records’ Will Birch and John Wicks, and Mickey Jupp’s “Switchboard Susan” is given a low-key arrangement that suggests skiffle roots. Covers of Tom Petty’s Mudcrutch-era “Lost in Your Eyes” and Bob Dylan’s obscure “Coming From the Heart” highlight the band’s ears for good songs that had been abandoned by major writers.
In addition to the album’s original ten tracks, this collection includes an alternate mix of “It’s Too Late,” and early mixes of two tracks from the second album. The second album, like the first, combines a couple of band originals (“Little Bit of Heaven” and “Another Night”) with material drawn from up-and coming and veteran songwriters. Among the former are Moon Martin (“She Made a Fool Of You”) and a pair co-written by Will Burch; among the latter are John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night,” Andy McMaster’s “Love’s Melody” and Alex Chilton’s “September Gurls.” The latter was an especially prescient selection, given that it would be six more years until the Bangles brought the song into the mainstream with A Different Light.
The second album is even richer in vocal harmonies and 12-string jangle, with well-selected songs from British writers that include Dave Paul’s “Silver,” Randy Bishop’s “Infatuation,” John David’s inspirational “You Are the New Day” and the Kursaal Flyers’ now-nostalgic “Radio Romance.” The album’s original dozen tracks are supplemented by four bonuses, including the original B-side “Changing,” two John Hiatt tunes and a hard-rocking cover of Chris Kenner’s New Orleans’ R&B chestnut “Sick and Tired.” Most of this material was previously released on Raven’s Sire Sessions: Rockfield Recordings 1979-80, but with that set out of print, and the additional tracks and new interviews added in this edition’s liner notes, this is the set to get. [©2017 Hyperbolium]