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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Shoes - 1981 Tongue Twister
Shoes - 1981 Tongue Twister

ALBUM: Tongue Twister
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 6E-303
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2009, Air Mail Recordings (Japan), AIRCD-101


LINEUP: Gary Klebe - vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesized guitar, percussion * Jeff Murphy - vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesized guitar, percussion * John Murphy - vocals, bass, electric guitar, percussion * Skip Meyer - drums, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Your Imagination * 02 Burned Out By Love * 03 The Things You Do * 04 Only In My Sleep * 05 Karen * 06 She Satisfies * 07 Girls Of Today * 08 Hopin' Shes The One * 09 When It Hits * 10 Yes Or No * 11 Found A Girl * 12 Hate To Run

WEBLINKS: shoeswire.com

Unassuming Zion, Illinois is a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan smack dab between Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and in the late 70's, was the ideal place to be for an up and coming power pop band going by the nondescript name of Shoes. Much has been written over the years about Zion's sole contribution to music and the fact the Shoes recorded their first demo and full-length album 'Black Vinyl Shoes' on a four track in a band member's living room, gave them credibility with the elite New York and L.A. press, but Shoes had nothing to do with punk and new wave despite their D.I.Y ethic and more in common with the pure pop of Big Star and The Raspberries. Like most 'Chicagoland' bands, The Beatles played a giant role in the group's development, but so did Cheap Trick who the band caught live as often as they could at local clubs. Their own concerts were infrequent, but interesting including 10cc and John Entwhistle covers mixed with original material. Following the critical success of their debut, the group signed with Elektra in 1979, and released some of their best work including this, the Shoes third album 'Tongue Twister'.

The Songs
Much of Shoes appeal is they sound like everyone, yet sound like no one you have heard before. This is a straight guitar album and for 1981 a bit unique considering keyboards were so in vogue at the time, and just to make sure everyone knew, the band included a 'No Keyboards' statement on the inside sleeve. The opener 'Your Imagination' and the sublime 'The Things You Do' are classic power pop that leaves so many power pop wannabe's from the era in the dust. 'Only In My Sleep' brings to mind The Byrds jangle pop while 'Karen' is a brilliant take on the early Beatles sound. Swoon! 'Girls Of Today' has a slight Robin Zander and company vibe and the Pezband - like 'When It Hits' are both classic Shoes, but 'Found A Girl' is my favourite track on the album in a similar direction Jellyfish and The Wondermints would take a few years later.

In Summary
Even with the critics falling over themselves praising the band and major label backing, Shoes would tour sporadically supporting The Kinks, their heroes's Cheap Trick and even KISS; much happier it seems in the recording studio. Nothing wrong with that and the band would release a few more albums before disappearing into legend. 'Tongue Twister' was reissued with their previous album 'Present Tense' on CD several years ago but is getting difficult to find these days as are all Shoes releases in digital form. Still, it's worth the effort and extra money to get your hands on some of the best power pop to come out of America. This time the critics were right.

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Tags: Shoes 
#1 | jefflynnefan on August 10 2007 00:32:09
Thanks for the review Eric. I've always wanted to check this band out but they seemed to fall through the musical cracks for me. I was never able to find something by them around where I live. I'll have to put some effort into finding this cd. Their first album was a independent release well before REM gained fame from that, right? I'm sure Styx's albums on Wooden Nickel would qualify for Independent status as well. 'Lady' was big .
#2 | Eric on August 10 2007 00:42:20
Yes, but Shoes first had really good distribution for an indie and was easy to find. Used copies of Shoes albums are plentiful.

Styx and Wooden Nickel-indie? No, not really since they were distributed by RCA which was initially set up between Bill Traut the Wooden Nickel head honcho and Keith Christiansen who worked at RCA at the time. Christiansen managed Michael Johnson in the late 70's early 80's and I worked with Keith briefly in the 90's. He has since passed away unfortunatly, but I got the lowdown on early Styx, the how and why from the horses mouth.
#3 | machoman on August 10 2007 11:41:26
For those interested, you can find almost all their albums on CDBabyclap
#4 | octanoid77 on August 10 2007 12:35:13
Some Shoes albums are up for download on the great eMusic.com

Present Tense
Tongue Twister
Shoes on Ice

If you're not familiar with it, here's the lowdown...
When you sign up, you get a free trial (25 Downloads). If at any time during your free music download trial, you're not completely satisfied, you can instantly stop your free subscription with one quick click of a button. You'll owe nothing and you get to keep the legal mp3 music downloads for life.

Here are your subscription options, I got a basic one...

eMusic Basic
* 30 Song Downloads per month
* $9.99 per month

eMusic Plus
* 50 Song Downloads per month
* $14.99 per month

eMusic Premium
* 75 Song Downloads per month
* $19.99 per month
#5 | gdazegod on August 10 2007 12:48:21
Sounds expensive to me.. helpless
#6 | octanoid77 on August 10 2007 13:02:00
Well it's between $0.26 (premium) and $0.33 (basic) per song, I find that pretty cheap actually, iTunes is expensive ($0.99/song).
Here's the link for the Shoes downloads
#7 | jefflynnefan on August 11 2007 03:16:59
Thanks for the information everybody!
#8 | jefflynnefan on August 11 2007 03:34:18
I listened to the samples and a first they sound a bit like New England. Definitely like what I hear, so I got the 'Best Of'.

I first heard Styx's Lady on WLS Chicago, boogie check, ooh ah!
#9 | trillion1999 on October 15 2011 21:19:18
Yet to hear everything before Black Vinyl Shoes and everything after Tongue Twister.When I got the twofer mentioned in the review I found this album the most consistent out of the two.Burned Out Love is my favorite-track from this one.rolleyes
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