From the Vault...


The Searchers
"Sweets For My Sweet"

© Castle Music Records

track listing
  • Sweets For My Sweets
  • Love Potion No. 9
  • Sugar And Spice
  • Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya
  • Some Other Guy
  • Listen To Me
  • Money
    (That's What
    I Want)
  • It's In Her Kiss
  • Hungry For Love
  • (Ain't That) Just Like Me
  • Stand By Me
  • Twist And Shout
  • Farmer John
  • Where Have All
    The Flowers Gone
  • Needles And Pins

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    The Searchers
    "Sweets For My Sweet"

    Many many not remember the name, but they had some memorable hits. The Searchers had their fair share of them, as some of their hits were also recorded by other artists. These hits were remakes for The Searchers: "Sweets for My Sweet" (The Drifters), "Needles And Pins" (Jackie DeShannon), "Love Potion No. 9" (The Clovers). What is interesting of their hits, was "Sugar And Spice" -- It was an original song for them, yet most people would remember this song as a hit for The Cryan Shames. They were the second group from Liverpool, after the Beatles, to have a hit in the United States when "Needles and Pins" charted during the first week of March 1964.

    That was the song that stood out for me, as it is one of my favorite songs from the 1960s -- "Needles And Pins," pronounced better as "Needles And Pinns-za." This song was written by Sono Bono.

    The band first formed as a skiffle group in Liverpool, in 1959. Created by John McNally and Mike Pender, the band took their name from the classic 1956 John Ford western The Searchers. By 1961, and numerous personnel changes, the band's main singer was Tony Jackson, and they began their hits in 1963 with "Sweets For My Sweets" (Some remember this song's title as "sweets for my sweets, sugar for my honey." Mike Pender, not Tony Jackson sang lead on "Needles And Pins." Their years of main hits were from February 1962–July 1964, featuring this lineup: Tony Jackson (lead vocals, bass), John McNally (rhythm guitar, vocals), Mike Pender (lead guitar, lead vocals), and Chris Curtis (drums, lead vocals).

    Sweets For My Sweets is a greatest hits compilation, released in 1999. The original hits are here, which is what everyone will remember, and want for their collections. Starting with the first hit, "Sweets For My Sweet," as I listened to it, this version I just didn't quite remember. Maybe it The Drifters version that would ring the memory bells. Now, "Love Potion No. 9" I do remember, likewise The Clovers version. (Both versions are very very good.) The same goes for "Sugar And Spice." As most remember this song by The Cryan Shames, both versions are very very good.

    The next two tracks' titles didn't ring the memory bells for me, but I'm sure for others, they probably remember them: "Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya," and "Some Other Guy." "Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya" does resemble another band from England, the early years of The Beatles. speaking of the Beatles, "Some Other Guy" would surface, recorded by The Beatles, from the first Live At The BBC collection. In comparing, The Beatles' version is the best.

    "Listen To Me" continues The Searchers recording cover tunes: This song was originally recorded by Buddy Holly. Both versions are good. More on The Beatles -- The Searchers' version of "Money (That's What I Want)" has a definite comparison to The Beatles' cover. Again, The Beatles' version is better. "It's In Her Kiss" is another cover, originally by Betty Everett -- "It's In His Kiss." Betty's version is the better of the two.

    "Hungry For Love" and "(Ain't That) Just Like Me" sounds like original tunes, and they both have the early Beatles sound. If the Beatles did their version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," it would probably sound like The Searchers version. After hearing The Searchers' version, I could hear John Lennon singing this one. In fact, in the 1970s, John Lennon would record his own solo version on his Rock and Roll album. More Beatles? "Twist And Shout" is here, and yes, it's in the same style as The Beatles, but a bit slower. Another Beatle-sounding band comes to mind, the Beatles parody band, The Rutles. Once again, The Beatles version gets the final best vote. Another easy Beatles sounding track, "Farmer John" keeps it rocking. "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" has the MerseyBeat/Beatles style, yet this particular song was most famous by The Kingston Trio. This collection ends with the infamous "Needles And Pins."

    The Sweets For My Sweet (greatest hits) collection is a great introduction to The Searchers. Fans of the early Beatles will truly enjoy this set. Of course, for the true fans of The Searchers, there are other extensive collections, such as the 30th Anniversary collection box set. Sweets For My Sweet is a quick setlist of the band's most famous hits, great covers and more.

    Since the late 1960s, The Searchers continued to record and tour, throughout the next three decades. John McNally would become the only original member of the group during this time. Mike Pender left the band in the late 1980s, however he tours with his own group, calling themselves "Mike Pender's Searchers," as they perform Searcher songs and other Pender compositions.

    The Searchers' recorded music in the 1970s seems very interesting, as they were adapting to the latest musical trends. Like in the 1960s, they would continue recording covers, such as Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire," The Bee Gees' "Spicks And Specks," Neil Young's "Southern Man," and John Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night." Other covers included songs by The Rolling Stones, Alex Chilton, and The Hollies. A multi-album deal was signed with Sire Records. After two albums released on the label, and getting ready for a third, the band was dropped from the label, due to a label reorganization. Although their 1970s albums may not have been successful on the charts, they were enjoyed by their fans. (Note: Their Sire recordings can be found on the Sire Sessions: Rockfield Recordings 1979-80, on

    In the 1980s they had recorded on two labels. Only one single from PRT Records, and by the mid-1980s, they signed with Coconut Records, and released one album, Hungry Hearts. Although, like other albums, it was not a hit, it did keep them in the public eye. Mike Pender left by the end of the 1980s. The band continued to tour for the next three decades, including today. Their present lineup is: Spencer James (rhythm guitar, guitar synthesizer, lead vocals), John McNally (lead guitar, vocals), Frank Allen (bass, vocals), and Scott Ottaway (drums, vocals).

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    Jimmy Buffett--Living And Dying In 3/4 Time
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    Merle Haggard--40 #1 Hits