Wednesday, November 13, 2013


...But before we get to THAT....
The 20-page playlist/discography that goes along with my record-store e-book memoir GUARANTEED GREAT MUSIC! is now available at's Kindle Store -- it's called RECORD STORE DAZE, and I'm trying to set it up so that if you grab a copy between Nov. 14th and 18th it'll be FREE! The least I can do, since it's just a LONG, detailed list of (mostly) overlooked great music from the late '70s and early '80s....
This is all depending on if I haven't confused the Kindle folks, who have been wonderful to me. Anyway, that's the plan. I'll have more on this soon....

Now then: The Shoes' PRESENT TENSE (Elektra Records, 1979) is one of the great overlooked "power pop" albums of that era, mostly breathy broken-hearted love songs with lots of chiming, jangling guitars.
The Shoes were a quartet from Zion, Illinois -- the three Murphy brothers and a friend -- and almost every one of the dozen songs they do on PRESENT TENSE is a winner.
Course I'm mostly a sucker for the breathy, chimey stuff -- the one that sucked me in was the first single, the should-have-been hit "Too Late," which has great singalong choruses and those jangling guitars that hook in immediately.
Other greats include "In My Arms Again," the dreamy and resigned "Every Girl," the rockin' "Now and Then," the rockin' opener "Tomorrow Night," the laid-back "Listen," and another rocker, the closing "I Don't Wanna Hear It."
Every one of these has hooks that will GRAB ya, great group vocals, lotsa great guitar work .. they all should have been hits.
Even the songs where the hooks don't kick in as fast work pretty well. If you prefer stuff more upbeat, you might get sucked-in by "Somebody Has What I Had" or the spare, basic "I Don't Miss You," or "Hanging Around With You." Even the really dreamy stuff like "Your Very Eyes" works. Just some songs work better than others, to me -- are more immediately catchy.
These guys were even ambitious -- "Three Times" is a four-minute three-part suite, combining the various phases of a love story: "See Me," "Say It," and the wrapper-upper "Listen."
Recorded at The Manor in England and produced by Mike Stone, PRESENT TENSE should have been a big hit. But the sounds were a little out of time for 1979 -- this wasn't a disco record, and it certainly wasn't very heavy. Most of us who worked at The Musicworks bought copies -- especially those of us who were suckers for good pop music. But we couldn't turn the public on to The Shoes. God knows we tried -- we played the album to death in the store....
A couple years later, the fledgling MTV played a couple of Shoes videos -- I remember seeing the video for "Too Late" on the channel -- but by then the album was out-of-print and had already had one run through the cut-out bins. We sold a couple more copies of the album as cutouts, but the album never caught-on like it should have. Too bad -- it was high-quality stuff.
The Shoes had one more album released on Elektra, TONGUE TWISTER, one or two others on small indie labels as the '80s unrolled, and then another album STOLEN WISHES came out around '89 with the group reduced to a trio. Their first album, 1978's BLACK VINYL SHOES, recorded in their garage (apparently) and released on their own Black Vinyl label, is rated a garage classic by some fans.
There's also at least one Shoes best-of on CD out there -- also on the Black Vinyl label.
PRESENT TENSE is a forgotten classic, whether you prefer the dreamy side or the more rockin' stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Great record you picked there! I love their fist couple of albums. Numero Group just reissued them on vinyl and they're pretty cheap, too. Black Vinyl Shoes comes with a bunch of extra inserts and even a T shirt iron on. I grabbed a few of them, and they're really cool.