Artist: The Searchers
Album: Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981
Label: Omnivore Recordings
Release Date: 12.8.17
The Searchers were going nowhere fast in the 1970s. Aside from live shows that still sizzled and popped, the British Invasion refugees – birthed from the same ‘60s Merseybeat scene as the Beatles and the Hollies – hadn’t recorded anything of note in years. To longtime fan Seymour Stein, that was a crime.
Not some music-industry dinosaur pining for the good old days, Stein was the co-founder of vanguard label Sire Records, which counted punk/new wave movers and shakers such as the Ramones and the Talking Heads among its trailblazing ranks. In signing the Searchers, Stein believed they, too, had a distinctly modern and altogether timeless aesthetic, like the Byrds, Nick Lowe and Big Star all rolled into a ball of irresistible power-pop charm and jubilant energy.
All of this is chronicled in an enlightening essay by Scott Schinder that accompanies the wonderfully curated new compilation Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981. Packaged together, those LPs—a self-titled release and Love’s Melodies, or Play for Today as it was called in the U.K.—glide along contoured melodic rails of pristine harmonies and silvery guitar jangle in well-chosen covers and likeable, if unspectacular, originals.
Much to their chagrin, neither album made a splash. That’s a shame, because the Searchers were in fine form on both, the first a more freewheeling, unkempt effort produced by Pat Moran (who once worked with Rush) that features a lovely, refined unraveling of the Records’ “Hearts in Her Eyes,” a cheeky stomp through Micky Jupp’s pub-rock crawl “Switchboard Susan” and the yearning, impassioned balladry of Tom Petty’s “Lost in Your Eyes” and Bob Dylan’s “Coming from the Heart.” Moran was joined by Ed Stasium on Love’s Melodies, a production partnership that resulted in punched-up sonic definition, as John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night” showers glorious fireworks, the title track, a Ducks Deluxe favorite, is a wall of creamy pop sound and “September Gurls” rushes in and sparkles.
Among the ephemera of B-sides and alternative mixes, see “Silver” and “It’s Too Late” for fresh and interesting perspectives of songs on the original records – is a deeply soulful version of the New Orleans classic “Sick and Tired.” And for a little something new, there’s a rollicking, honky-tonk version, previously unreleased, of John Hiatt’s smart-ass “Ambulance Chaser.” Stein was on to something.