Shoes “Black Vinyl Shoes”
Black Vinyl Shoes is one of the holy grails of underground power pop. This album was recorded and released in 1977 but sounds much closer to early 70’s power pop giants the Raspberries, Badfinger and Big Star.
Shoes released their solid, underproduced debut in 1975 (Un Dans Versailles) and have some earlier recordings circa 1974 reissued years later as the double As Is disc. Most people if any, remember Shoes for their great songs and lo-fi production, which I have to say sounds much more authentic than 90’s bands Guided By Voices and Sebadoh. The group hailed from Zion, Illinois and were fronted by Jeff and John Murphy. Many of their earlier albums were recorded in Murphy’s living room making the production rough and ready. Fans consider Black Vinyl Shoes to be their peak, a private press album that eventually saw a larger indie distribution due to local popularity. The fuzz guitar riffs and underproduced but smooth harmonies would resonate with 80’s rock pioneers REM and the Replacements.
Garage and psych fans will find much to love about this highly influential cult record. Many of the tracks here sport huge fuzz guitar riffs and solos (check out Tragedy and the brief Boys Don’t Lie). The band also conjures up a lean, icey hard rocking sound that fit in nicely with the punk era, as heard on Do You Wanna Get Lucky?
But when it comes down to the wire, many of these songs display a dominant Beatles influence with plenty of boy meets girl lyrics and catchy guitar hooks. One mini classic, Not Me bears this out, and is highlighted by some ghostly vocals and great surgical fuzz guitar riffs. This album is a cornerstone for early indie rock and a monster power pop album that really deserved a richer fate.