A little known curiosity of the 1960s was the fact that albums were released in completely different mono and stereo mixes, often completely different recordings of the same exact songs included on each version. As a record collector of 1960s music, it often becomes a game to compare and contrast the differences between the mono/stereo mixes as well as applaud any record company that takes it upon themselves to re-issue the different mixes on cd. The Searchers are one group who have had that luxury afforded on them, and thanks to bargain bin prices, I've been able to hear a couple of the early Searchers albums in both their stereo and mono mixes. Oddly enough, the Searchers only ever released the mono records in the UK (their homeland) and the stereo versions were either only released in the US - or recreated for this cd reissue from the original master tapes. Take Me For What I'm Worth is just such a cd - and quite a find too.
The Searchers were a group with all of the right talent behind them, but with out the record company promotions needed to sustain continued hit records. While they made headway by having incredible production value (thanks to Tony Hatch) and included incredible harmonies and musicianship, The Searchers could never really rock as hard as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. With that being said, the Searchers did make an incredible splash by playing what can only be termed folk rock before folk rock even existed.
The Searchers started with the incredible Needles and Pins (included on the cd It's The Searchers) originally performed by Jackie DeShannon and penned by none other than Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche. They continued to mine that sound even further on Take Me For What I'm Worth in 1965 but thanks to the fact that their original record label Pye left these tracks in the vaults for 5 months (a lifetime in the 1960s) they had little success from this album. This is sad because hidden on this album are such lost gems as Too Many Miles, It's Time, Don't You Know Why, He's Got No Love and I'm Never Coming Back - all original folk rock tunes written by the Searchers themselves. Added to these original songs are great versions of P. F. Sloan's folk rock anthem Take Me for What I'm Worth, Ruby & the Romantics' Does She Really Care for Me (which sounds like a dreamy guitar strumming Righteous Brothers tune here) - and the folk rock song Each Time (written by Jackie DeShannon). They sidestep with the more rocking or soulful numbers like a tepid version of Be My Baby (written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Phil Spector), the souless I'm Ready (a Fats Domino song) and I'll Be Doggone (a Marvin Gaye tune originally co-written by Smokey Robinson) and the countrified disaster that is Four Strong Winds. The Searchers were neither soulful nor rocking enough and fall flat on these songs. I'm sure it would not have mattered much if the whole album was as strong as the strongest tunes, if their record label had given up on them. It's just too bad that The Searchers were not more aware of their strengths at the time - which leaned more towards the 12 string strum of folk rock - and stayed away from something they couldn't handle - which was the rock-n-roll and soul.
Unlike many of the early 1960s rock combos, The Searchers were able to stay together and keep up with the times by releasing albums into the 70s and 80s, so I'm sure they eventually learned from their mistakes. Even though my final conclusion is that the Searchers would work better on a finely selected collection, at bargain bin prices, their albums are definitely worth checking out.