Found! Two gems from the Searchers

The Searchers – Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981 (Omnivore Recordings)

Fifteen years after hits like “Needles and Pins” and “Love Potion Number Nine,” the Searchers style of jangly, guitar-based rock was suddenly back in vogue in the late 1970’s, thanks to the popularity of bands like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Cheap Trick. Sire Records jumped at the chance to resurrect their career, signing the band to a two-album deal. Omnivore Recordings has just reissued those two records as Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981.

This is really good stuff.

As a fan of the power pop genre, I feel cheated at never hearing these recordings the first time around.

Their 1979 album, simply titled The Searchers, kicks off with the 12-string, chiming pop of “Hearts in Her Eyes.” It’s amazing how modern the band sounds, without having to compromise their signature approach. The insistent “Switchboard Susan” was also covered by Nick Lowe the same year.

The band does a fantastic job of assembling first-rate material from a variety of sources, mining the catalogs of Tom Petty (“Lost in Your Eyes”) and Bob Dylan (“Coming From the Heart”) for a pair of great ballads. Songwriter John David wrote the album’s shoulda-been-a-hit “It’s Too Late” (later covered by the equally-underrated Marti Jones).

The band shows off their little-used songwriting skills for the excellent “This Kind of Love Affair.” It’s the kind of song that just sticks with you.

The band’s second Sire album, 1981’s Love’s Melodies, is arguably even better. “Silver” is an excellent example of the band’s modern pop sound featuring great harmonies. They grab the bouncy “She Made a Fool of You” from Moon Martin, then retool John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night” into a jangly delight.

The churning “Little Bit of Heaven” was one of the band’s finest compositions, while “You Are the New Day” is a great ballad with a Phil Spector feel. “Love’s Melody” was catchy as hell and “Radio Romance” had great lyrics like “I love the radio, but the radio don’t love me.”

Another highlight is their cover of Big Star’s “September Gurls,” actually predating the renewed interest in the Memphis band. The Searchers add some great harmonies that weren’t on the original. They even pay homage to their roots with the Chris Kenner rocker “Sick and Tired,” proving that they could still bring the heat.

Surprisingly solid from start to finish, there’s not a dud on these two discs.

Most of us missed this great music the first time around, so  now is the perfect time to discover this pair of great albums. —Tony Peters