Hearts In Their Eyes - Celebrating 50 Years of Harmony and Jangle

Hearts In Their Eyes - Celebrating 50 Years of Harmony and Jangle

It was around two years ago that fans of The Searchers were eagerly awaiting the release of a definitive box-set of their recordings, including rarities, demos, interviews and live recordings, mainly from the 1962 - 1985 period, with Mike Pender featuring on most of the tracks. Mike, of course, left the band in 1985 to set up his own group.

The box-set was even reviewed, favourably, in two national music magazines and its title was to be 'Sweets, Spice, Sugar, Pins and Needles' and it would consist of 120 tracks on 4 CDs, to be released by Universal UK's Sanctuary label. This was obviously big news, involving a major UK group, who were voted second only to The Beatles in 1964, achieving three No. 1s in the UK and many other big hits, plus playing a major role in the British Music 'invasion' of the US.

Then nothing happened - the box-set never appeared. There were rumours of delays due to legal or copyright reasons. Over the last two years, new release dates had been whispered. Now, at last, we have our box set as it was released on July 5th in the UK and scheduled for one week later in the US. Amazon are selling the box-set for the competitive price of £28.49 including free delivery in the UK.

The title was changed to 'Hearts in Their Eyes' - subtitled 'Celebrating 50 Years of Harmony and Jangle' and the front cover photo shows the group, including Frank Allen, shortly after Tony Jackson had left in 1964. At least the box-set includes several of Tony Jackson's singles, recorded with The Vibrations. There are 120 tracks that we assume are the original tracks that should have been released two years ago and include early demos, recent live recordings, interviews, rare singles, alternate takes and wholly unreleased songs and kicks off with live tracks from 1963 from Liverpool's Iron Door Club (including 'Sweets for My Sweet') and Hamburg's Star Club, and ends with recent live tracks from the current Searchers, which still includes John McNally and Frank Allen.

There is also a 64-page booklet with liner notes from Bob Stanley and Jon Savage, plus written recollections from surviving band members including photos, memorabilia and picture sleeve reproductions. It is a real treat, even for serious Searchers' fans who have large collections of vinyl and CDs including the various compilation and antholgy albums. 
It also includes many of the hits originally cut for Pye Records between 1963 and 1967, including every A and B-side, except 'Lovers', the flipside of 'Popcorn Double Feature'.

Many tracks from the band's 1960s' LPs are featured and in addition to the core Pye hits, the set features relatively rare songs recorded for Liberty, RCA, Sire, Pye successor PRT (including the previously unreleased 'In the Heat of the Night') and the German Coconut label (the self-penned 'This Boy's in Love' from their 1988 LP, 'Hungry Hearts'.
 The track listing is a real feast of music for all Searchers' fans from the 1960s to the present (and of course for Mike Pender's Searchers' fans too) and fans of great British pop/rock music, performed by a hugely talented and influential band - the second best group to come out of Liverpool in the early 1960s, and that's a big, big compliment.

Richard Mahoney