When The Beatles hit the big time in 1963, all the major record companies shouted `Klondike' and headed north to Liverpool to sign a plethora of groups in the hope of cashing in on this seemingly rich vein of talent. Other than a handful of bands, those who saw a single reach no higher than the dizzy heights of No. 30 in the charts returned to the obscurity from whence they came whilst the groups that didn't experience even that euphoria packed it in. One of those that did hang around for a few years was Gerry and The Pacemakers, probably number two in the popularity stakes behind the Fab Four (albeit a distant second). Like `A Hard Day's Night', a film had to be made before it all went pear shaped and there had to be an accompanying soundtrack LP, which now gets an expanded release. Actually, it's an extended release for those in the UK, something that needs an explanation. Originally issued in 1965, three songs heard in the film were missing over here but turned up on the USA album; this is now rectified; `I Gotta Woman' by The Black Knights, `Shake a Tail Feather' from Earl Royce and The Olympics, and `I Love Her' by The Kubas is the trio. However, as the film and album were vehicles for Gerry it isn't surprising he was prominent on the UK version.
Additionally, this CD includes a further eight songs from those artists, seven of which were all previously issued on obscure (and now expensive) singles; the eighth track, The Black Knights' `Angel of Love', gets its premier here. Rounding off the 28 tracks are three stereo versions of the aforementioned three missing songs, and a previously unreleased version of `Ferry Cross the Mersey' without the orchestra overdub. Yes, it certainly dispenses with that string accompaniment, but this is the film version, not the record, which has a slightly different vocal.
But is all this any good? If you enjoy mid 60s music, and Merseybeat in particular, this is well worth adding to your collection. Though the title track, `It's Gonna Be Alright', `Why Oh Why' and Cilla Black's `Is It love' are stand out songs, listening to the bonus tracks, it's not too difficult to understand why none of those featured worried the charts, all ending up as a footnote in the annals of British Beat music as just four of the many hundreds to try their luck. The one thing these bonus selections have in common is very weak lead vocals with even weaker backing. The groups involved are also guilty of being `one trick ponies', regurgitating the same instrumental themes throughout; even `Que Sera Sera' and `Shake a Tail Feather' are both given the same treatment. But that's what makes all this so quaint. As an antonym to those poor backing vocals mentioned above, the nine Gerry and the Pacemakers songs are unusual in that they have none. And to be honest, the Pacemakers were really just three other blokes in which nobody had any interest; they could have been anyone, which is probably why they're absent from the cover.