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Present Tense / Tongue Twister

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Editors’ Notes

The late '70s gave rise to new wave, where rock and pop's most economical attributes were brought to the forefront. The Knack, Blondie, The Cars, and The Jam made the most commercially successful noise, but the Zion, Ill.–based Shoes were quietly recording some of the era's best music. They'd already shown everyone what they could do with 1977's home-recorded Black Vinyl Shoes. Present Tense represented their jump to a major label and into a professional recording studio. Fortunately, the group members weren't intimidated by the big leagues, and Present Tense remains one of the era's classic "lost" albums, with "Tomorrow Night," "Hangin' Around with You," and "Now and Then" leading the charge. Or you could pick another trio of tunes from this stacked deck of goodies. The group's second major-label release, Tongue Twister, was equally engaging, adding the obsessive love of "Karen" and the brash and powerful "Your Imagination." Harmonies give a lushness to their appeal, while the group's pursuit of the perfect pop song makes every track a contender.


Formed: 1975 in Zion, IL

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

It may not have been the hip thing to do at the time, but Shoes carried on the pure pop traditions of the Beatles and the Raspberries during the late '70s and early '80s with a charming innocence and execution unmatched by the more derivative bands lumped into the category "power pop." Shoes were formed in Zion, Illinois, in 1975 by Jeff Murphy, John Murphy, Gary Klebe, and Skip Meyer, with the Murphys and Klebe all sharing songwriting duties. After one self-made and extremely limited album (only...
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