Ignition by Shoes on Apple Music

15 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Shoes were one of the great unsung power pop bands of the '70s. The Illinois band self-released their earliest albums before a major label picked them up and gave them an actual recording budget, which let Shoes improve the sonics while remaining true to their great performances and songwriting. Then they receded from view, and 18 years passed before Shoes finally took their finger off the pause button. Ignition sounds as if they'd never stopped. As befits a group that hasn't released an album in some time, Ignition is packed with solid tunes that have been accumulating for years. "Head Vs. Heart," "Heaven Help Me," and "Maybe Now" establish that Jeff and John Murphy and Gary Klebe have lost none of their abilities. Once again recording in their home studio, and enjoying all the benefits of modern technology, Shoes sound natural and fully accomplished. The acoustic guitars are warm, the electrics jangle and growl, and the harmonies remain the band's strongest asset. There are no wasted notes and no fancy solos: just purely economical power pop with an autumnal undertow guiding the enthusiasm of "Wrong Idea," "Sign of Life," and "Only We Remain." 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Shoes were one of the great unsung power pop bands of the '70s. The Illinois band self-released their earliest albums before a major label picked them up and gave them an actual recording budget, which let Shoes improve the sonics while remaining true to their great performances and songwriting. Then they receded from view, and 18 years passed before Shoes finally took their finger off the pause button. Ignition sounds as if they'd never stopped. As befits a group that hasn't released an album in some time, Ignition is packed with solid tunes that have been accumulating for years. "Head Vs. Heart," "Heaven Help Me," and "Maybe Now" establish that Jeff and John Murphy and Gary Klebe have lost none of their abilities. Once again recording in their home studio, and enjoying all the benefits of modern technology, Shoes sound natural and fully accomplished. The acoustic guitars are warm, the electrics jangle and growl, and the harmonies remain the band's strongest asset. There are no wasted notes and no fancy solos: just purely economical power pop with an autumnal undertow guiding the enthusiasm of "Wrong Idea," "Sign of Life," and "Only We Remain." 

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About Shoes

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 300 were pressed), 1975's Un Dans Versailles, and the unreleased Bazooka (1976), they recorded their true debut for national consumption, Black Vinyl Shoes, in Jeff Murphy's living room and released it on their own label, Black Vinyl Records. Though it was barely distributed, enough critics and key people heard the record to start a word-of-mouth buzz. Eventually, Greg Shaw, the head of Bomp! Records, heard the record and arranged for the band to release one single, the brilliant "Tomorrow Night"/"Okay," on his label. A contract with Elektra Records soon followed, and the label released the group's next three textbook power pop albums: Present Tense (1979), Tongue Twister (1981), and Boomerang (1982). Despite the instantly accessible, catchy quality of the songs, the band was unable to achieve mainstream success -- among specialists, however, these albums, along with the debut, stand as the high points of the era.

Elektra dropped Shoes after the release of Boomerang and Meyer left the band. The remaining three retreated back to the home studio, returning with Silhouette in 1984, a more subtle, keyboard-oriented album released only in Europe. They disappeared for the next five years and popped up again in 1989 with Stolen Wishes on their reactivated Black Vinyl Records. Since then, Shoes have remained intermittently active, releasing Propeller (1994) and the live Fret Buzz (1995) as well as producing other likeminded bands for release on Black Vinyl. The collective efforts of Shoes in the mid-'90s led to a power pop revival in indie rock circles in the U.S., and the band stayed active working on reissue projects (including 2007's Double Exposure, a double CD of demos taken from the albums Present Tense and Tongue Twister), the occasional live show, and running their Short Order Recorder studio. In 2011, the group reconvened and began recording new tracks for an album. The finished product, Ignition, was released on Black Vinyl in 2012. ~ Chris Woodstra

  • ORIGIN
    Zion, IL
  • FORMED
    1975

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