1988 reissue of the first two Elektra albums on one disc by this legendary U.S. pop band. 'Present Tense', originallyreleased in 1979, features 12 tracks including 'In My ArmsAgain', 'Too Late' and 'Tomorrow Night'. 'Tongu... more »e Twister', originally released i« less
1988 reissue of the first two Elektra albums on one disc by this legendary U.S. pop band. 'Present Tense', originallyreleased in 1979, features 12 tracks including 'In My ArmsAgain', 'Too Late' and 'Tomorrow Night'. 'Tongue Twister', originally released i
Timeless perfect pop that almost everyone ignored.
Patrick Wilkins | Oxford United Kingdom | 05/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the Power Pop universe, the usual cornerstone albums are those of the "Killer Bs" the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Badfinger, and Big Star, but for me, Illinois natives, the Shoes surpass their influences to define the genre, and "Present Tense" is their finest record. I can remember buying the record in the late 70s having read a review that mentioned Big Star and Todd Rundgren's "Something Anything", that'll do nicely! I even heard a track on a local radio "new releases" show that compared the Shoes to the poppy punk sound of the Buzzcocks, since I was living in Manchester (England) at the time, and the Buzzcocks were the local heroes, this was praise indeed. Criminally, for such perfect pop, this is probably the only time I ever heard the Shoes on the radio. The Shoes style is straightforward enough, solid, and usually mid tempo, rhythm guitar, few solos, great harmony vocals and lyrics of boy meets girl, looses girl, gets cheated on by girl, and generally gets in emotional mess about girl. Throughout these two albums, and indeed the rest of the Shoes output, this formula almost never varies. The band's insistence on this style, and subject matter, might lead you to think the records feel claustrophobic, but instead, when listening, you are put into a Shoes world where they appear to be singing about whatever relationship you happen to be in at that particular time. This distinctive and fairly rigid pattern has also given the music a timelessness such that I have rarely gone for long without listening to the band, and "Present Tense" in particular, in the last 25 years! The start off track "Tomorrow Night", probably their most famous song due to a nearly hit single release, sets the tone with some delightfully crunchy guitars and vocal harmonies. My favourite tracks, "In My Arms Again" and "Three Times", play the tangled love life card to perfection, over the usual persistent swirl of guitar. "Tongue Twister" is not quite as strong as "Present Tense", and daringly introduces more keyboards and guitar effects into the mix, but it's still an excellent album. I have never seen the band live, despite the fact that "Present Tense" was recorded in England, I am not aware that they ever played live here. It's a shame I never saw them, because they were a big part of my growing up, and I doubt now that I will ever stop listening to them. So if you like to have categories to put music into then for "Power Pop" this is an essential twofer, but in the greater scheme of things it is simply a collection of beautifully uncomplicated and timeless pop songs, and one that I wouldn't be without."
Best teenage love songs ever
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 03/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I live in Chicago, and although I didn't learn about the Shoes until the early 1990s, I was lucky enough to see the Shoes perform 3 or 4 times in that decade. Unfortunately, I don't think they perform at all any longer. In part, it might be because the guys are all in their late forties, and the songs they all sang so magnificently were awesome anthems of teenage exhiliration and angst over the opposite sex. I know of absolutely no band in the world that strikes such a perfect note of what it is like to be 17 and desperately in love with a girl.Musically, the Shoes were a throwback to the sixties. The Beatles, the Kinks, the Raspberries all spring to mind as predecessors (and a successor would be Chicago's magnificent and tragically forgotten Green). Unlike those bands, however, there is never a note of dissonance. This music is smooth. Perfect harmonies (perhaps because two of the singers are brothers--remember how well the Everly Brothers voices blended), sweet melodies, heartfelt emotion. It is impossible to listen to this music and not feel catapulted back to junior high school or high school. But though this is music about teen love, there is nothing of the sell out here. The audience for this music, and the ones who might most appreciate the band, are those who are into a lot of pre-nineties alternative music. If you are a fan of bands like Big Star and Television, you really need to know this band. I just wish I could hear them live one more time."
Outstanding 2-fer, Present Tense was the record of '79
Perry M. Koons | Crownsville, MD United States | 02/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shoes are one of those bands that you look at and just scratch your head, wondering "how did these guys not get huge?" Of course, fans in the know will tell you that Shoes were one of the best power pop groups of all time (in fact, in college I did a Power Point presentation on power pop music, and I focused on my "Big 5," of which Shoes were #4). One of the first in a long line of Illinois popsters who just don't get their due - there must be something in the water over there that gives these guys so much talent and bad luck simultaneously. Anyway, the first record by Shoes that was released was Black Vinyl Shoes, which is highly recommended but a bit less accessible. Present Tense followed, serving up an actual hit single (!) in "Too Late," a simply great power pop song any way you slice it. Of course the rest of the album is magnificent from start to finish, and as a guitarist I loved being able to throw this on and pick out most of the simple but catchy guitar parts. Tongue Twister followed, and admittedly sounds a bit thinner and more dated, but there's still a wealth of great tunes for your listening pleasure. Fans of softer Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley, Emitt Rhodes, Big Star, and the Records would be doing themselves a real favor to track this down.
Best Tracks: "Too Late" - Cool little riff leads into this lesson in power pop dynamics - even when the guitars kick in and start crunching on the chorus, the vocals stay soft and sweet. "Your Very Eyes" - Should have been all over AOR/AC stations in the late 70's. Puts other soft rock to shame. "In My Arms Again" - Really interesting song structure here - scaled back chorus gives way to an explosive, emotive outro. Great tune. "I Don't Wanna Hear It" - An early example of pop punk, miles better than anything out today in that genre. "Your Imagination" - For those who dig early Goo Goo Dolls tunes written by bassist Robby Takac, this will fit right in. Good lyrics, peppy and bouncy, a great kick in to the Tongue Twister tracks. "When It Hits" - More power pop 101 from the masters. I just wish this track was a bit better produced."
A great two-fer: too bad about the packaging
Greg Cleary | Marquette, MI United States | 10/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It pains me to give only four stars to a CD that contains the two best albums by one of my all-time favorite bands, but I have a problem with the packaging. I have both these albums on vinyl, but one of the discs is warped, so I bought this CD. The music sounds as great now as it ever did, but I was disappointed that they went with bargain-bin packaging here: no lyrics, no pictures (except for tiny reproductions of each album cover), no liner notes. Albums this great deserve better treatment, and I would gladly pay double the price for high-quality reissues that at least contained the original artwork and lyric sheets.
Having said that, I will now say that if you haven't heard this band and you like music that's in a similar vein (other reviewers here have described it very well), you do need to get this CD. Unlike most fans, I prefer "Tongue Twister," because I like the leaner, meaner production (by Richard Dashut, who worked with Fleetwood Mac). Both albums are packed with great songs, and there is really not one false note on this entire CD. Enjoy!"
Walk a mile in my S H O E S ! ! !
Perry M. Koons | 09/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hey everyone ! Just like to say I had 'Present Tense' on vinyl years ago. Good souvenirs. This is stuffed with lots of hi energized rock ("Don't Wanna Hear It", for instance), entwined with some sensitive ballads. Their love songs are superb, both vocally and musically. At moments, voices and the aural mood tend to remind me of some works by The Kinks. From a sonically rocking side, Shoes are most comparable, to my views, to some bands from the same vintage years, such as The Kings (no, that's not a typo!), Frank Soda or The Times. This 2-4-1 cd, also considering the price, is a highly recommended pair of Shoes. °°°"