Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shoes: Shiny, New & Yet, Very Comfortable

I have a memory of a Creem magazine ad, 1977 maybe, for a record called "Black Vinyl Shoes," by a band called Shoes. Usually, my mind traps this kind of trivia. But all I can recollect, aside from the ad, is a rave review by the mag and great disappointment upon hearing the album.

I don't blame the band. I blame myself, my still backward listening habits, and my inability to effectively think about something other than the new Bad Company record.

Jump to 1979, and a record called "Present Tense" by this same band called Shoes spins relentlessly on my Technics turntable for weeks and weeks and weeks. It was that record, for me at least, that set a standard for what we now call Power Pop. "Black Vinyl Shoes" may not have officially been the first power pop record, but for me, Shoes were the first power pop band.

More records followed, each screaming with mellifluous harmonies and those damned melodies to die for. I am a Shoes fan.

"Too Late," "Burned Out Love," "Tomorrow Night," "The Summer Rain," "Karen." "The Things You Do."

These songs, among others, were hook-filled miracles. Much needed fresh air from MTV's overload during the early part of the 80s.

And now...the boys of Zion, Illinois are back with "Ignition."

It's a killer.

And yes, just maybe... 35 years later...their best record yet.

Every song on "Ignition" offers something...that one special riff, or background vocal hook...that made me say, "This is the one." By the end of the record, I had a dozen favorite songs.

From the opener, "Head Vs. Heart," with the subtle yet always effective bass drop-out on the refrain, a trick that gets me everytime, to the call and answer chorus on "Diminishing Returns," to the beautiful melancholy of "Where Will It End," this new entry in a very special Shoes catalogue delivers. It's big, and if you're a fan of perfectly crafted pop tunes, or a sucker for three-part harmony, you will be hard-pressed to take "Ignition" off.

Brothers Jeff & John Murphy and Gary Klebe have done something few bands have achieved. They've created a sound and they own it. I will go on record by saying, no band sounds like Shoes.

I've gushed enough, but it is that good.


FD13NYC said...

Yeah Sal, gush all you want. I'll gush. The Shoes are a great band with longevity and a unique pop rock sound all their own, agreed.

I've been a fan for many years. Ignition is a fine new offering that keeps the Shoe magic alive for me.

FD13NYC said...

OK Sal, I'm going to run a few tests with the embedding thing. There may be a couple. Let's see if it works.

If these don't work. I'll go back to the drawing board. Let me know

Gene Oberto said...

I know you love the name as much as the concept, but when you mention Power Pop, I usually wince. Don't get me wrong, like a nice first course, there are PP songs I just fall on the floor in seizures, but whole albums are usually a little too sweet for my palate.

Though I remember the band, I don't know the band, but the song on the video had a guitar sound that was familiar but it's tone was just...different.

And then at :30 and :38 that guitar fill....OMG.

As usual, when I climb the mountain, the guru always gives me something to think on and enjoy.

Oo, Oo, the guitar break came up that a Les Paul growl? More power than pop on this tasty tune.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I thought Badfinger invented power pop with "No Matter What"?
KROQ played "She Satisfies" back in the day, and I thought they sounded kinda like Cheap Trick. I ended up with "Present Tense", "Tongue Twister", and "Boomerang". I'm glad to see they're still at it.

Sal Nunziato said...

I've thought of Badfinger as one of the most hit or miss legendary bands. Aside from "No Matter What" and "Baby Blue," I don't really hear much power in their pop.

steve simels said...

In a word -- eggs ackley.

For obvious reasons, I'm prejudiced, but this is a great fricking record.

Dave said...

I'm glad you wrote about Shoes. Present Tense is an excellent album.

Albert said...

Great refreshing to hear essentially the same "what they do best" 30 years later....Had a mind to feel this was a better album than Present Tense but I've relented a bit...nothing trumps a great album when you hear it at 19 years much going on in the head that a great piece of music could become a veritable life-saver...Present Tense was indeed that type of album amongst a bunch of others at that time in my life...Ignition is so good too...