Hailing from the great State of Illinois, Shoes are/were Jeff Murphy, John Murphy and Gary Klebe. Their excellent music was part of the power pop wave of the late ’70s, early ’80s. Bands of that era included most notably The Knack (“My Sharona”), 20/20, The Beat, The Pop, The Flashcubes, Pezband and so many great bands that I don’t have space to list them. Influenced by The Beatles, Beach Boys, The Who and other masters of the three-minute pop format, Shoes are/were one of the best of the genre. It is justice that Parasol decided to do a tribute to this band, a band that should have had better commercial success than they did.
You should buy this recording because the versions here in some cases are preferable to the originals, and the originals were very good. Why? The artists had no Big Record Company to make happy, allowing the greatness of these songs to shine. Hooks, melody, harmonies, and all you could ever ask for exist in these songs.
Highlights include Matthew Sweet’s version of “Karen”. Sweet’s voice is like honey, smooth and sweet, highlighting the strong melody of the chorus. Possibly the best track on the CD is delivered by Doug Powell (SWAG, solo artist, Todd Rundgren’s band) in “She Satisfies”. His vocals soar. Powell can only be compared to someone as gifted vocally as Meat Loaf. Another fine track is turned in by sparkle*jets U.K , revving it up on “Cruel You”. Michael Carpenter’s “Love Is Like a Bullet” shimmers. Big Hello’s version of “Tomorrow Night” drops into a skin tight groove with a strong vocal. The Masticators “Your Imagination” is another standout track. Don Dixon (producer of REM, solo artist) and Marti Jones contribute a fantastic version of “Only in My Sleep”.
You really can’t go wrong on this CD: this is an all-star lineup of pop bands paying tribute to one of the great power pop bands of the late ’70s, early ’80s.
The director of this compilation, John M. Borack, and Parasol should take a bow here. The band deserved the tribute. The versions are dead true to the original versions in parts and redefining on others. The artwork is great. The humble liner notes by Shoes are refreshing: no salutations with “Peace” or “Rock On”.
Make an exception to the sometimes curse that is the tribute CD and check this out at parasol.com.