The birth of Indie Pop
Perry M. Koons | Crownsville, MD United States | 10/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first discovered this album it stood out like a sore thumb in my CD collection. Sure, I had most of the Cheap Trick CD's, some Badfinger and Big Star stuff, and actually even had Shoes "Best of" CD. However, only one cut from this album was represented on the Best of, and their later albums featured fuller production techniques. This is not the first Shoes album, they actually released one called Un Dans Versailles in 1975 and crafted an unreleased record called Bazooka in 1976 (collected on the compilation As Is). These early recordings give credit to Shoes being among the first indie pop pioneers. Black Vinyl Shoes is stunning because at that time (and pretty much to this day), NOBODY sounded like this record. They recorded everything on a 4 track, kept the cover art simple, and released the record through their own label. It was a D.I.Y. production that preceded (and gave hope to) pretty much every indie pop band. With their lo-fi fuzz sound washing over sweet melodies, and soft vocals, on paper they sound like an early version of Jesus and Mary Chain or Dream Syndicate, but in fact were nothing like either band. They were pop traditionalists, they just couldn't AFFORD to make their guitars sparkle like the Byrds or Big Star could. The sound is beautiful in it's own right, and some of the songs are instant classics. Even if it's not the most consistent Shoes CD, it is a must have due to its often underestimated (and uncredited) influence on the D.I.Y. pop crowd.Best Tracks:
"Boys Don't Lie" - 2 minutes of sublime fuzz pop. Structured like a basic pop punk song, but sounds like nothing else.
"Do You Wanna Get Lucky" - Sloppy drums, screeching atonal solo, but still just a pretty, catchy song. Sounds like a Revolver-era Beatles song done by a garage band rather than experienced pros.
"Tragedy" - Some of the best vocals on the CD, even if you can't understand a word. Great song.
"Capital Gain" - Weird twists and quirky lyrics show that this band had more than met the eye.
"Okay" - My #1 track here. Bouncy, simple, and textbook power pop. Early Beatles given the lo-fi treatment 15 years before bands like Apples In Stereo.
"Fire For Awhile" - When Shoes slow it down, it is stunning. The harmonies pave the way for their later records with denser vocals, and the guitars chime with a drowsy sadness. Beautiful."
S. Taylor | USA | 06/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Browsing through and finding that this underground classic is represented by only one, one-star review, I felt that I had to weigh in. I think this album is amazing. Buzzing, surprising guitar hooks, supersweet falsetto vocals, early Ramones bounce (really!). Recorded in a living room. This album really puts a smile on your face. Everybody is welcome to their opinion, and if you simply don't like power-pop, then you probably won't like this. But if you enjoy such bands as, say, Big Star, this will be a treat!"
Milestone DIY indie-power pop release
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 08/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though they'd recorded a few earlier self-distributed releases, and would go on to record for Elektra, this album is ground zero for understanding and enjoying the band's unique take on DIY power-pop. An initial single on Bomp had its renown magnified when this self-distributed album was picked up by PVC, giving those outside of their home base of Zion, IL a fuller look at their 4-track brilliance.
There's a crowded sound to this buzzing and chiming pop - not unlike the Raspberries early LPs. But unlike the Raspberries, there's a fuzzier edge to their melodic guitar hooks, and a dispassion in the vocals that isn't as AM radio-friendly. At times the lack of passion can seem fey (the Bomp single of "Okay" trumps the album take, for example). Their later LPs for Elektra would give the music more breathing room, but it's the claustrophobic living-room vibe that gives this LP its distinction.
Nominally recorded as a demo, this set has become the defining document of this great indie pop band. Overlooked by many of the band's Elektra-era fans, it seems to go in and out of print on the band's own Black Vinyl label. Pick one up when you can! [©2005 hyperbolium dot com]"