SHOES: Present Tense (record review)

Present Tense
Elektra (6E-244)
Producer: Mike Stone
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Second set from this Midwest outfit, released October 1979 (US & UK), reached #50 in the US
This band was bit like fellow Illinois rockers Cheap Trick except while Trick had heavy hard-rock leanings, this group leans the other way, sort of a mix of Trick and the Raspberries.  While everybody had to mention the Beatles influence, this clearly comes from the Midwest, sounding like they were influenced by many artists, including perhaps the Everly Brothers.  Of course, that group came from the early days of rock & roll, and showed elements of their Kentucky home, while this clearly comes from the “present tense,” the urban world of the late 70s.  The music is clean as the streets of a new subdivision.  

Some of the material leans deep into pop territory, but other cuts have enough to remind you that they were still a rock-and-roll band.  A couple of the cuts sound quite a bit like Cheap Trick, and other cuts almost hint back to the Beach Boys, but they have a sound all their own, and when it comes to polished power-pop, this is about as good as it gets.  Many bands tried to copycat this sound in the years and decades that followed, but most couldn’t pull it off like this outfit.
 The lineup included Jeff Murphy (guitar, vocals, songs), Skip Meyer (drums), Gary Klebe (guitar, vocals, songs), and John Murphy (bass, vocals, songs).

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