The Searchers were one of the underrated bands of the 1960s British Invasion. They were a pop rock group that issued catchy and melodic music. They may not have been as creative as such contemporaries as The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones, but their music was pleasant, stayed in your mind for days, and remains a good listening experience.
While they were moderately successful in the U.S., during the 1960s they were stars in the U.K. Three of their singles reached number one and their albums sold millions of copies.
The band was formed during the late 1950s as a skiffle group by John McNally and Mike Pender. Within a few years they had developed into a rock band complete with tight harmonies. They developed an ability to cover songs by other artists and transfer them to a smooth pop sound. Songs such as “Sweets For My Sweet” (The Drifters), “Needles & Pins” (Jackie DeShannon), “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” (Orlons), “Love Potion Number Nine” (Clovers), and others became far different than the originals in the hands of The Searchers.
The Searchers are one of the few bands from the 1960s to have never disbanded or gone on hiatus. They have now issued Hearts In Their Eyes, which is a career spanning four-CD box set. It presents their hits, some deep album cuts, rare live material, and several obscure interviews.
There are eight early live performances recorded at the Iron Door Club and the legendary Star Club during 1963. Cover songs such as “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Let’s Stomp,” “Sweets For My Sweet,” and “Hey Joe” catch them in their formative stages as they were learning their craft.
During the height of their career (1964-70) they produced some of the smoothest and catchiest pop of the era. “Have You Ever Loved Somebody,” “Desdemona,” “Sugar and Spice,” “When You Walk in the Room,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Needles & Pins,” “Don’t Throw Your Love Away,” and “I Pretend I’m with You” all approach pop perfection. They even manage to make the oft-recorded “Hi-Heel Sneakers” highly listenable.
There are 120 tracks included and the well-known are presented along with the obscure. As with any extensive box set there are some hidden gems (“This Empty Place,” “Someday We’re Gonna Love Again,” “It’s in Her Kiss,” and “Since You Broke My Heart”) and a few misses (“You Beat Me to the Punch,” “Money,” “All My Sorrows,” and “I’ll Be Doggone”). It’s also nice to have tracks from their fine late 1970s self-titled release and early 1980s Love’s Melodies included alongside their early material.
Just about all of the material contained in the set has been available elsewhere, but Hearts In Your Eye gathers together 50 years of their best and a lot of interesting material into one essential set. The Searchers may not have changed the face of music but they made it a lot more enjoyable.