There are already so many "best-of" collections of Gerry & the Pacemakers -- including previous releases from EMI, Capitol, and Collectables -- that this double-CD set from EMI's U.K. division probably won't seem very impressive or important. Actually, very little of the band's history is left out, at least in terms of the various facets of their music -- the hits are all present, along with a brace of engaging B-sides and LP and EP tracks that greatly broaden the range of music at hand. The quartet's best-known songs are well-crafted pop
ock in a Merseybeat mode, but they had a harder side as well, and even traded in some R&B and country sounds, and those aspects are represented here in between the hits. Some listeners who like their more rocking sides, such as "Jambalaya," "Maybellene" or "Pretend," may not appreciate the presence of such string-laden pop as "Walk Hand in Hand" or "Girl on a Swing," but this is a valid representation of their sound. And the sound is optimal, to put it mildly, with lots of presence on all of the instruments. The state-of-the-art digital audio reveals the band -- for those not already aware -- as a first-rate British beat outfit, with a solid rhythm section behind Gerry Marsden's vocals. The 96-minute running time is more than enough immersion for all but the most rabid fan. The annotation by Dave McAleer gives a good account of the group's history and music, and the relatively low price makes this entire package competitive with any domestic CD release devoted to the group.