Tag Archives: power pop

Shoes in the Chicago Tribune

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Happened upon a mention of an article on Shoes in the Chicago Tribune. Was delighted when I discovered there was a short video with it. 7/10/12.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-ent-0711-shoes-band-20120710,0,1060019.column

In the event that the paper makes you jump through hoops like it made me jump through hoops, here’s a link to the video.

Here’s the article as written by Mark Caro:

KENOSHA — Having shuttered their Zion-based studio and record label before the failing businesses destroyed their friendship, the three guys from the power-pop band Shoes know firsthand how brutal the music industry has become.

The conventional wisdom says you can’t make money on CDs anymore because who still buys physical product? It also says you can’t make money touring if you can’t line up more than a few dates, preferably with sponsorship support.

Common sense says if you’ve been around since the ’70s and haven’t released a studio album in 18 years, you’ve probably lost a step or three.

So what were Gary Klebe and brothers Jeff and John Murphy, all now in their late 50s, thinking when they decided to record “Ignition,” the first Shoes album since 1994’s “Propeller”?

“There’s no one to make this record for other than ourselves,” Klebe said in the low-ceilinged basement studio of his house in Kenosha. “And it hasn’t been that way for a long time.”

“The record companies are gone, and airplay is gone, and MTV is gone,” Jeff Murphy said, “so you just make the music that you like.”

July 3 was a momentous day because a box arrived at Klebe’s home containing the first shipment of the “Ignition” CDs, released that day through the band’s website, shoeswire.com, with an official release via outside retailers scheduled for Aug. 14.

“The main reason you do this is for that moment when you can hold it in your hands,” Klebe said, pulling out the first discs featuring the eye-grabbing cover, which Klebe and John Murphy designed, showing a Photoshopped John Murphy blasting into the sky with an ancient-looking rocket on his back.

“Traditionally I think Shoes fans have been the kind that want to hold the hard copy,” Jeff Murphy said (though the website also is selling downloads of the album). “They want to own the packaging, because they’re like us. We are record fans, record collectors.”

Shoes are old school in more ways than one. Their music now spans five decades (albeit skipping the first 10 years of the 2000s); the indie debut “Black Vinyl Records” was released in 1977, with “Present Tense,” the first of three albums for Elektra, following in 1979 and then four studio albums in the ’80s and “Propeller” in the ’90s.

Yet for all of the cultural and industry changes that the band has endured, time has kind of stood still for these guys. They started out worshipping at the altar of ’60s melodic rock, particularly The Beatles, and through their self-taught playing hit upon a classic power-pop formula of crunching guitars, sweet harmonies, big choruses/refrains and tales of love and heartbreak. All three key members, with their almost-matching draped locks and doe eyes, take turns in the songwriting and singing. (Gary and Jeff are the guitarists, John plays bass and some guitar, and there’s been a string of drummers.)

They’re unassuming guys, never boasting the swagger and showmanship of Rockford pop-rockers Cheap Trick, but they also never experienced that band’s ups and downs. Which is to say Shoes lacked a true crossover hit beyond the occasional FM play of “Tomorrow Night” or “Too Late” — or the frequent airing of their videos in the early days of MTV — but they sure came up with a lot of hooks.

The current shock for the band’s devoted if specialized fan base may be twofold: one, that Shoes made another album after so many years, and, two, that it not only doesn’t represent a “diminishing return” (to quote a John Murphy “Ignition” song) but actually feels more vital than anything since the Elektra days. It’s a reaffirmation of what they and their fans love about this sort of punchy, tuneful music.

“Boy, they still sound 25, man,” said Mary Donnelly, who has written a 500-page book, “Boys Don’t Lie: A History of Shoes,” for which she’s eyeing a late-summer release. “When I first heard it, I was like, ‘Holy crap.'” The Upstate New York-based author/blogger said she was “stunned” when she heard that Shoes were working on a new album. “I’m still convinced that this is them saying to me, ‘Don’t write about us in the past tense.'”

She’s not that far off.

The band was filled with optimism in the early ’90s. Short Order Recorder, with Jeff Murphy usually at the helm, had a steady stream of studio clients, including such upstart Chicago-area bands as Material Issue and Local H. The label, Black Vinyl Records, was releasing not only Shoes albums but works by simpatico guitar-pop bands such as the Spongetones.

Then everything collapsed: The studio business was decimated by the shift to digital technology and the rise of bands recording themselves, independent distributors went belly up and CD sales plummeted. Shoes members say they saw the studio’s and label’s survival as symbolic; as long as those two entities existed, so did the band. But they weren’t making music; they were worrying about finances, a topic that can put a strain on any relationship.

“They turned on each other, and there was some bitterness there for a while,” Donnelly said.

At any rate, they couldn’t see recording a follow-up to “Propeller” under such conditions. “It was like we didn’t want to see it thrown to the dogs,” Jeff Murphy said.

Finally they decided to let go and sell the studio, which happened in 2004. The weight removed from their shoulders, Klebe and the Murphys concentrated on their day jobs: Klebe and John Murphy work at a Zion catalog company, and Jeff Murphy does tech repairs in Kenosha.

All three have lived in Kenosha since the 1990s, but when Klebe moved into a new house in 2009, a historic 1948 home that sits across the street from Lake Michigan, he decided to build a recording studio in his basement. He poured thousands of dollars into a mixture of analog and digital equipment so music could be recorded with old-fashioned warmth and then mixed on state-of-the-art computer equipment.

Did he do this to record a Shoes album?

“Yes,” Klebe said. “Yes.”

“He surprised us,” John Murphy said. “We didn’t know. He didn’t tell us.”

In true “Field of Dreams” fashion, he built it, and they came.

“To give credit where credit is due, Mary writing this book got us thinking about this more,” Klebe said. “When you’re forced to talk about your past life in this business, you start to get a little bit teary-eyed about the good times and (wonder) why aren’t we doing this?”

Said Jeff Murphy, who pronounced Klebe’s studio superior to Short Order Recorder: “As soon as we started recording, it was like, God, that was fun,” he said. “There is nothing like creating a song from nothing, from zero.”

Despite the long lag between albums, the band members hadn’t been stockpiling material; they wrote to order. They began recording in the fall of 2010 and had John Richardson, the crafty powerhouse drummer of the band’s 1990s and 2000s live shows, come down from his Menominee, Wis., home to lay down the first drum tracks onNew Year’s Day2011.

The studio is a small, windowless room, with no parallel walls (all the better for recording drums), adjacent to the control room. The smell of a nearby cat box and scratch marks on the wall treatments add to the homey vibe, and occasionally during recording the black, mellow Psycho and gray, more temperamental Buzz would check out the action.

(This day’s big drama came when Psycho escaped through a partially open front door, prompting bandmates, reporter and photographer to scour the neighborhood calling, “Psycho! Psycho!” before he was located beneath a neighbor’s porch. Upon his return, a ticked-off Buzz growled and hissed at him.)

There are subtle differences among the singer-songwriters’ voices and approaches on “Ignition,” yet the songs are all of a piece, unmistakably Shoes.

“We’re really more each other’s influences than anything else,” Klebe said, noting that they still don’t know music theory or even necessarily what chords they’re playing. “It’s really kind of a moat around us.”

As they chatted in the control room with unplugged guitars on their laps, they were at a loss to play any of their new songs.

“We never learned them,” Klebe said.

“We would have had to have weeks of rehearsal,” John Murphy said with a laugh, “for an impromptu jam.”

Asked to attempt “Tomorrow Night” instead, the three picked at their guitars until they found the verse chords; it all fell apart on the bridge, but they were able to rebound for the subsequent verses, Jeff Murphy singing, “What will you say?” and John Murphy and Klebe responding in tight harmony “Tomorrow night,” before they nailed a clean ending.

“We haven’t played together for over three years, a single song together, since Japan,” Klebe said with a laugh afterward, referring to a few shows the band performed overseas in 2009. Before that they played an afternoon concert in Millennium Park in August 2007.

Yet even with their first album in 18 years, they have no plans to perform live now.

“We all have to deal with our schedules,” Jeff Murphy said. “It has to be something that we want to do. We’re not going to go out just because we’re supposed to.”

“Playing live is a losing proposition,” Klebe said. “If you leave Chicago, it’ll cost us money to do it.”

What about Chicago, though?

“The problem is it’s hard to do just one show,” Klebe said. “You need more than one show.” There’s also an underlying fear for a band that has been inactive for so long: “We’re afraid no one would come,” Klebe admitted.

Yet with strong initial response and advance orders for “Ignition,” the band members remain hopeful, even as they realize the rule book was long ago deleted.

“We don’t know what we’re doing,” Klebe said. “We know as much as we did around ‘Black Vinyl Shoes.'”

At least they know this: Accomplished power pop never dies, and Shoes are present-tense again.

mcaro@tribune.com

Twitter @MarkCaro

Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

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Shoes – In Her Shadow

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This is a video that was created by Shoes in 1981 for their song In Her Shadow. This song is short but oh so sweet.

In Her Shadow

Lyrics by Shoes

Double Exposure – Tongue Twister (2007)
Composed by John Murphy

Underneath all of her cute conversation
You realize she gives with one hand
What you take with two
You felt uneasy when she found the reasons
For keeping the distance she needs to
Erase those mistakes

She keeps you in her shadow
You’re lost in it still
She’s kept you in her shadow
So why can’t you see that
She’s already found what she needs

She’s always showing a constant reminder
Of her sweeping kindness
Won’t she be surprised when it’s wrong

She’s rediscovered her latest ambition
She’s gone and she’s glad that
You missed every chance to get out

She keeps you in her shadow
You’re lost in it still
She’s kept you in her shadow
So why can’t you see that
She’s already found it
Why can’t you see that
She’s already found it
Why can’t you see that
She’s already found what she needs

Countdown to New Shoes Album – Ignition

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Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and has an “Extreme Fan” release today,  July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they had been revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15. I’ve enjoyed listening to the new stuff and am now listening to the MP3s that I just downloaded while waiting to get the CD that I pre-ordered.  The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.

You can preview all the tracks and see lyrics for each song on the Ignition page

ignition

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)
Shoes on the Web – ShoesWire.com
Shoes Store – Buy Shoes Music

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 15 Track 1

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they have been revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

Today being July 2, it’s the last day to pre-order the CD from ShoesWire.com. (It’s not 7/2 anymore but you can now order the CD.)

ignition

Track 1 is Head Vs Heart by Gary Klebe.

HEAD VS HEART
(Gary Klebe)

Time is chasin’ me down
Somewhere I got turned around
You can try as you will
You’ll be the death of me still
‘Til the end, I won’t breathe easy again

Trouble from the start
Don’t go where you wanna go
Head vs. heart
Go where you wanna go

Long gone, never look back
So fast, no time to react
Some things will just never change
Logic is all down the drain
We pretend over and over again

Tearin’ me apart
Don’t go where you wanna go
Head vs. heart
Go where you wanna go

Time is wastin’ away
Vain wait, the name of the game
Everything I thought is true
Lies are the essence of you
In the end, I won’t breathe easy again

Trouble from the start
Don’t go where you wanna go
Head vs. heart
Go where you wanna go

Head vs. heart

——-

Gary: lead/backing vocals, electric guitars
Jeff: backing vocals, electric guitars (includes lead)
John: backing vocals, bass

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 14 Track 2

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they are revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

ignition

Track 2 is The Joke’s On You by Jeff Murphy.

THE JOKE’S ON YOU
(Jeff Murphy)

You might find another noble cause
To hang upon your wall
And fill your hallowed halls

But in time your words will seal your fate
So I’m picking up the pace
And laughing in your face

‘Cause the joke’s on you
That’s the way it goes
When everybody knows
That the joke’s on you

I don’t need to say
That it’s funny how things change
Your point of view
When the joke’s on you

Now the joke’s on you
Strange to think that how
It’s not so funny now
That the joke’s on you

I was your amusement for a while
Now you can’t crack a smile
I’m laughing all the while

You can’t see the forest for your needs
Despite your desperate pleas
It just occurred to me

Now the joke’s on you
It’s right before your eyes
It comes as no surprise
That the joke’s on you

Now you know
That it’s funny how love goes
From hot to cold

When the joke’s on you
That’s the way it goes
When everybody knows
That the joke’s on you

Now the joke’s on you
The joke’s on you

——-

Jeff: lead/backing vocals, electric 12-string guitars, acoustic guitar
Gary: backing vocals, electric guitars (includes lead)
John: backing vocals, bass

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 13 Track 3

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they are revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

ignition

Track 3 is Dimishing Returns by John Murphy.

Buy Ignition from ShoesWire.com.

DIMINISHING RETURNS
(John Murphy)

Given her the kinds of things
Just to get her through
Bet you don’t remember when
You knew what to do

It’s been on your mind but you’re afraid
Of what you might find behind
Diminishing returns (you might find somethin’)
Diminishing returns (you might find behind)
Diminishing returns (you might find somethin’)
Diminishing returns (you might find behind)

Broken and alone again
Tired of her lies
Forgotten how it should’ve been
And so you agonize

You’ve been in the way but you’re afraid
Of what you might find behind
Diminishing returns (you might find somethin’)
Diminishing returns (you might find behind)
Diminishing returns (you might find somethin’)
Behind diminishing returns

You don’t know how it feels to get more than you give
Conceals the parts that aren’t as strong
You’ll never know the moment when love starts to fade
It’s been unequal far too long

You’ve been in the way but you’re afraid
Of what you might find behind

CHORUS

Made it known that she might leave
This you understood
Never in your wildest dreams
Did you think she would

There’s gonna come a day when you’re afraid
Of what you might find behind

DOUBLE CHORUS

——-

John: lead/backing vocals, bass, baritone guitar, keyboard
Gary: backing vocals, electric guitars
Jeff: backing vocals, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, piano

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 12, Track 4

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they are revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

ignition

Track 4 is Heaven Help Me by Gary Klebe.

Buy Ignition from ShoesWire.com.

HEAVEN HELP ME
(Gary Klebe)

It came to me one day
And then I knew right away
That nothin’s the same, everything changed
It’s all rearranged

Heaven help me
Do I belong where I wanna be
Heaven help me
From the get go I could hardly breathe

It’s you I’m thinkin’ of
What’s not to hate about love
The moment has come
It’s over and done
The fun isn’t fun

Came not a moment too soon
Changin’ my tune
We had a wide open sky
Don’t close your eyes

Heaven help me
Do I belong where I wanna be
Heaven help me
From the get go I could hardly breathe

Woke up and then I knew
From nowhere out of the blue
Nothin’s the same, everything changed
It’s all rearranged

Came not a moment too soon
Changin’ my tune
We had a wide open sky
Don’t close your eyes

Heaven help me
Do I belong where I wanna be
Heaven help me
From the get go I could hardly breathe

Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
——-

Gary: lead/backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Jeff: backing vocals, electric guitars (includes lead)
John: backing vocals, bass

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 11, Track 5

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they are revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

ignition

Track 5 is Maybe Now by Jeff Murphy.

Buy Ignition from ShoesWire.com.

MAYBE NOW
(Jeff Murphy)

Play by the rules
And life can be so cruel
Holdin’ on to what has never been again
Some feelings fade
As time slips away
Haunted by the ghost of yesterday today

Hidden hopes you can’t get over
Feeling them again

Maybe now you’ll come around
You’ll let your defenses down
If fates allow
I’ll wait somehow
So maybe now

How long will you wait
It’s bound to come too late
Once it’s gone it won’t be back again ‘til then
Now it’s up to you
It’s time to make a move
Wishful thinking doesn’t make it true for you

Take a chance and see what happens
There’s nothing left to lose

Maybe now you’ll come around
You’ll let your defenses down
If fates allow
I’ll wait somehow
So maybe now

Maybe now you’ll come around
You’ll let your defenses down
If fates allow
I’ll wait somehow
So maybe now

I’ll wait somehow
So maybe now

——-

Jeff: lead/backing vocals, electric guitars, piano
Gary: backing vocals, acoustic guitars
John: backing vocals, bass

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 10, Track 6

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they are revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

ignition

Track 6 is Wrong Idea by John Murphy.

Buy Ignition from ShoesWire.com.

WRONG IDEA
(John Murphy)

What’s gotten into you lately
It’s hard to know where I stand
‘Cause nothin’ good has ever come out of
Disassembling what we’ve learned about love

Tried to explain the situation
It’s gotten way out of hand
Things get blown out of proportion
And caused a problem where there never was one

Just let it lay where it may land

Don’t get the wrong idea, baby
Don’t let ‘em box you in
You’re not prepared to handle love again
There’s no tellin’ how it shoulda been
So the wrong ideas don’t do you in

It’s no use to figure every angle
If you know what’s good for you
It’s a thankless job–at least that’s what I’ve heard
I feel that I’ve bent over backwards

How could you not see what it’s grown into

CHORUS

The thoughts I keep inside all still apply
I’ve been hopin’ you’d help me to understand
Can’t ya tell that I’d never wanna jeopardize
What we have so that’s why I’ll try the best that I can

CHORUS

Can’t we try to come to some agreement
Don’t be so sure that we can
We hit a snag–that’s all there is to it
It’ll take a little push to get through it

You leave me no choice than to play my hand

Don’t get the wrong idea, baby
Don’t let ‘em box you in

——

John: lead/backing vocals, Papoose guitars, bass
Gary: backing vocals, electric guitars
Jeff: backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)

Countdown to New Shoes Album Day 9, Track 7

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(Post edited – each day, a new song was previewed. The preview link was the same every day. I have removed those links as they are now dead. As the band releases videos, I’ll adjust links for specific songs. Your best bet right now is to head on over to ShoesWire.com and buy Ignition. You won’t be disappointed. The guys put a great deal of time and thought into this album and the songs are stellar.)

Shoes, that amazing Power Pop band from Zion, Illinois, has been working on a new album for over a year. It’s titled Ignition and will have an “Extreme Fan” release on July 3rd. Every day, starting on June 18, they are revealing a new song, counting down from Track 15.

ignition

Track 7 is Sign of Life by  Gary Klebe.

Buy Ignition from ShoesWire.com.

SIGN OF LIFE
(Gary Klebe)

Have no clue what to do
I was down and nearly underground

You found, found a sign of life
Deep down, you found a sign of life

What I’d resist would just persist
I lived and never learned a thing

You found, found a sign of life
Deep down, you found a sign of life

It’s my nature, my behavior
Just take the wrong and make it right

A faint heartbeat was all you found
You rescued me from my meltdown

You found, found a sign of life
Deep down, you found a sign of life

You found, found a sign of life
Deep down, you found a sign of life

——-

Gary: lead/backing vocals, acoustic and baritone guitars
Jeff: backing vocals, acoustic and baritone guitars
John: backing vocals, bass

Follow Shoes on Twitter – @ShoesWire
Like Shoes on Facebook – Shoes (Official)