At Abbey Road 1963-1966

by: Gerry & the Pacemakers

EMI was always somewhat dismissive of Gerry & the Pacemakers; compared to, say, the Hollies, they were never treated with a lot of respect. Part of this may have to do with the fact that after their initial handful of hits, the group ended up being distinctly more popular in America for a lot longer than they were in England, where they were quickly overwhelmed by the maturing of the British Invasion at home in 1964-1965. This 28-song CD is a welcome change, assembling not only all of the group's hits, in order and in state-of-the-art sound (and many listeners will be surprised how hard this band did rock and what a hard, steady rhythm section they had), but also very worthwhile rarities like "Hello Little Girl" and oddities such as "Girl on a Swing" and a cover of Paul Simon's "Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine," both remnants of the group's unfinished third British album. Everything is in mono, the way it was intended to be heard (and which really boosts the power of Les Chadwick's bass work and Freddie Marsden's drumming, even on "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying"). Casual listeners will love this disc for the sheer diversity of sounds -- juxtaposing their bluesy rendition of George Gershwin's "Summertime" and a pounding, rippling version of Larry Williams' "Slow Down" (a great showcase for Les McGuire's piano) -- and the crisp, clean sound, showing the band off as a romping, stomping quartet and not just the smiling British Invasion popsters that their U.S. singles seemed to make them out to be. It's not complete by any means -- See for Miles Records' The EP Collection is still the only place to find the killer live tracks off of the Gerry in California EP -- but its got enough rarities, B-sides, and forgotten tracks to impress the hardcore fan, without remotely boring or overwhelming someone who only wants the five or six hits they remember. What's more, the notes and the session and discography information finally give this band the respect they earned long ago. ~ Bruce Eder

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