|This 5 cd box set anthology features a staggering 126 tracks by Australian folk stars The Seekers features "This Land Is Your Land," "Children Go Where I Send," "Open Up Them Pearly Gates," "Dese Bones G'wine Rise Ag," "Chilly Winds," "Light From The Lighthouse," "Waltzing Matilda," and "Lemon Tree."
|Five CDs on the Seekers may seem like overkill, and the $70.00 list price may provoke an "in-your-dreams" response even from fans. But this set works: one listen fully justifies it on musical terms; the cost is only a little higher than comparable five-disc sets, and the unique range of material makes it a bargain. The set is broken up into five volumes, the first (1963-1964) covering the group's early history: their original 12-song demo, coupled with parts of their debut Australian album, Introducing the Seekers, and their first album for England's World Record Club. The music is a mix of traditional Australian, English, and American folk songs spiced with American gospel. They do themselves credit, whether they're touching on familiar folk standards ("If I Had a Hammer") or Australian repertory ("Waltzing Matilda," "With My Swag All on My Shoulder"), all displaying a beguiling purity and infectious joy in the singing. The second (1964-1965) and third (1966-1967) discs cover their album tracks from the group's classic era, from early 1964 up to the end of their last full year of success in 1967. The sources for those 40 songs are impeccable, although this is also the period already covered well by various hits anthologies. The fourth, "Hits, B-sides, and the '90's," pushes the group's hit singles, starting with "I'll Never Find Another You" and ending with "Days of My Life" onto a separate disc. The eight '90s tracks, cut in the studio and in concert on the Seekers' reunion tour, show the group still singing strongly, if not quite as agilely, covering "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Devoted to You" amid some good originals, and a nostalgic "Waltzing Matilda." Disc Five, "Studio and Concert Rarities," offers live tracks from their return to Australia as stars in 1965, including "You Can Tell The World" and "Blowin' in the Wind." These numbers are rounded out by outtakes ("Hello Mary Lou," etc.) from their Talk of the Town live album, some radio jingles, a handful of previously unissued studio cuts, and two versions of "Georgy Girl" from the movie. Each disc comes with separate notes, which are generally informative and helpful. Oddly, however, there is at least one annoying deletion from previous hits collections, the group's cover of Paul Simon's "I Wish You Could Be Here." The isolated tracks displaying any substandard sound appear on the first and last discs. ~ Bruce Eder