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Rock - Released February 11, 2008 | Parlophone UK

Gerry & the Pacemakers are fated to eternal comparisons to the Beatles, their onetime Merseybeat rivals who rapidly eclipsed the quartet in popularity and accomplishment, leaving them as something of a pop culture punchline. In the wake of the Beatles, it was hard to look back at Gerry Marsden and his irrepressibly cheerful music and think it was in the same league as the Fab Four, or any of the British Invasion groups that followed. That may be true, but Gerry & the Pacemakers shouldn't be judged against such R&B-schooled rockers as the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Kinks but rather against the stiff, starched rock & roll of pre-Beatles Britain. Compared to this prim, proper pop, the skiffle beats and bouncy melodies of Gerry & the Pacemakers seem fresh, almost serving as a bridge between formative English rock and the bright blast of the Beatles -- who were contemporaries of Gerry & the Pacemakers, so this doesn't quite parse exactly, but seen this way the band doesn't seem like a joke, so it's easier to enjoy what the group had to offer. Even armed with this perspective, sitting through the four-disc, 123-track set You'll Never Walk Alone: The EMI Years 1963-1966 can be a bit of a long slog, and not just because this contains a full disc of stereo mixes in addition to some songs showing up sans strings or in other variations. Discounting these variations, You'll Never Walk Alone still serves up far too much too Gerry & the Pacemakers for anybody but the dedicated, but that doesn't mean this isn't instructive. First, this does confirm that they were a good singles band with the best of their hits -- the quite lovely "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" and "Ferry Cross the Mersey," the infectious "It's Gonna Be All Right," and depending on mood, maybe "How Do You Do It" -- holding up quite well. Outside of the singles, there aren't too many hidden treasures. Every once in a while there's a surprise like Marsden's delightful Beatlesque rocker "Think About Love" or a chirpy cover of the early Lennon-McCartney trifle "Hello Little Girl," and the group shows some aptitude on covers of Jerry Lee Lewis and Hank Williams, but for the most part this is pleasantly cheerful Merseybeat and not much more. The exception is the live Gerry in California EP; culled from a concert at Oakland in October 1964, the complete show of which is released here for the first time, this live performance shows the band to be more energetic on-stage than on record, turning in a fun performance showcasing a band that's eager to please. That eagerness translated into politeness in the studio, where they were only too happy to follow the lead of their producers and create polite, well-scrubbed pop whether they were happily singing Merseybeat or singing middlebrow pop like "Strangers in the Night" just when their peers were branching out. Gerry dipped his toe into folk-rock with a not-bad version of Paul Simon's "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine," but that was an anomaly -- by the end of his run at EMI, soft pop like "Guantanamera" was more his speed, which may explain why Gerry & the Pacemakers faded from the view just when their peers got psychedelic. You'll Never Walk Alone proves that the band just wasn't made for those times. Nevertheless, there's an enduring innocence to their music that does make this a pleasant nostalgia trip (or piece of pop archeology, depending on your point of view), at least in small doses. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 13, 1997 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released July 7, 1997 | Parlophone UK

Granted, all but fanatics should be satisfied with a best-of for Gerry & the Pacemakers. But British Invasion specialists could do worse than pick up this reissue, which packages their 1965 LP with 14 rare bonus tracks. Ferry Cross the Mersey itself has nine Gerry Marsden originals, and aside from the hits (the title track and "It's Gonna Be All Right"), these rarely show up on compilations; they have the same lightweight, energetic Merseybeat charm of most of their early material. The album (which accompanied the long-gone Ferry Cross the Mersey film) also had some decent guest tracks by fellow Liverpudlians the Fourmost and Cilla Black, and a moody instrumental by the George Martin Orchestra. The bonus cuts aren't quite up to the same level, but they're pretty hard to come by otherwise: four songs that only appeared on an obscure compilation LP, rare singles from 1966 and 1967, the "film version" of "It's Gonna Be All Right" (identical to the single except for a few more instrumental bars at the beginning), and their super-rare 1966 live EP, Gerry in California. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 13, 1997 | Parlophone UK

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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 3, 1997 | Parlophone UK

Gerry & the Pacemakers' debut album, produced by George Martin and Ron Richards, is representative of the mainstream Liverpool sound beyond the Beatles, circa 1963. Gerry & the Pacemakers based their music around American R&B ballads, coupled with a delight in straight-ahead rock & roll and country music with a beat, in a manner similar to the Beatles. Gerry Marsden was a fairly powerful singer and a more natural (but not necessarily better) rock & roll guitarist than George Harrison, as revealed by his crunchy playing on numbers like "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues," "Jambalaya," and "The Wrong Yo-Yo," and his lively solo on "Maybelline" -- the problem was that neither he nor the rest of the band could match the Beatles for style. Drummer Freddie Marsden, despite much quicker hands, wasn't nearly as distinctive as Ringo Starr, and Les Chadwick's bass work was weighty, but not a third as interesting as Paul McCartney's, and Gerry's singing never came close to Paul's. When you add in the fact that their in-house songwriting was almost non-existent here, and their backing harmony vocals were a shadow of what the Beatles could produce, the result is a more limited quantity; How Do You Like It isn't as good an album as Please Please Me or With the Beatles, but it also reveals a band that was already 85-percent as interesting and complex as it was ever going to be. On the other hand, the group does rock out, which is all they really ever set out to do, and on those terms they're pretty engaging -- their covers of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya," Larry Williams' "Slow Down" and the Piano Red/Carl Perkins number "The Wrong Yo-Yo" are more than a little diverting, good examples of the classic, thumping Liverpool sound. Their version of the Arthur Alexander number "Where Have You Been" is moving and passionate, if not as well sung as the Searchers' rendition. And as the T.A.M.I. Show revealed, Chuck Berry didn't mind jamming with Marsden on "Maybellene." The 1997 EMI 100th Anniversary edition, remastered in 20-bit digital sound, is close and loud, and features both the stereo and mono versions of the album -- the mono version is punchier and more enveloping, but the stereo has its virtues, separating the voices and instruments binaurally, as was the custom in those days, which allows the listener to pick them apart, if anyone wants to analyze Gerry's guitar, Marsden's drumming, or Les Maguire's piano playing that closely; it's a reminder of what EMI is not permitting us to do with the Beatles' first two albums and early singles. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 1, 2004 | Parlophone UK

The Gerry & the Pacemakers volume of As Bs & EPs is as close as EMI has come to treading on the territory of its licensee, See for Miles Records, in terms of programming a compilation. Colin Miles has made much hay out of compilations like this, and it was only a matter of time before the owners of the sides got their own in. The sound is excellent, up to the latest standard (not that any of the competition was too lacking), and it is handy to hear the group's work this way, since they only ever issued one official LP (How Do You Like It), their work otherwise confined to singles and EPs, plus the soundtrack Ferry Cross the Mersey. It's pleasant, upbeat, melodic, Liverpool-style rock & roll, with a slightly greater emphasis on country music than the Beatles, and a leaner guitar sound that was balanced by a regular keyboard (courtesy of Les Maguire) -- between the A- and B-sides, one usually got a good dose of the range of popular sounds as they were perceived in 1963-65, and in this incarnation, one will hear the sound of Les Chadwick's bass. A much wiser way of doing a compilation on these guys might've been to assemble all of their EPs' contents in order, which would have delineated their history; as it is, things are pretty threadbare going into 1965, when the group released some of their hardest-rocking sides, and their only official live recording, Gerry in California. This disc is what it is, a cash-in around a vague concept, not profound -- nor was this music ever supposed to be -- but a whole lot of fun, as far as it goes, but superfluous. The biggest problem for most people will be the addition of yet another Gerry & the Pacemakers compilation to choose from, among the several out there. The notes are a little sparse and generic, saying little or nothing about the specific songs here. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 1, 2008 | Purple Pyramid Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Purple Pyramid

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Pop - Released October 26, 2018 | Rhino

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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Purple Pyramid

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Pop - Released January 22, 2021 | A&r Music

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Pop - Released November 11, 2019 | Rarity Music

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Pop - Released January 1, 1964 | TNA records

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Pop - Released July 14, 2020 | Country House

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Pop - Released June 3, 2016 | Rarity Music

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Rock - Released January 21, 2019 | HHO

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Pop - Released February 25, 2017 | Weishaupt Music & Entertainment

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Pop - Released November 12, 2020 | SOFA - AV Catalog PS

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Pop - Released September 7, 2018 | Vogon

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Pop - Released March 26, 2021 | SOFA - AV Catalog PS