CD Review: Shoes “Double Exposure”

ShoesWhile I truly believe in neither fate nor coincidence, there might just be no other way of describing my “relationship” with the band Shoes. After knowing about the band for over fifteen years, it was just recently that I found the website to the band. There, I found out that the band has released an album entitled Double Exposure. This current release was put out in 2007 as a way to introduce new people to the music of a band that released their first major label release for Elektra Records in 1979.

The band of Shoes was made up of three main musicians: Gary Klebe, Jeff Murphy and John Murphy (who all shared duties on acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass and lead vocals). Skip Meyer and others added the texture to the music as the band’s drummer. This group has had a long career, as they created music throughout the eighties and into the nineties.

In 1979, Shoes released “Present Tense,” a great rock release that actually falls into the category of “Power Pop”. The band and the music genre began at the same time that the music industry was trying to “recover” from the onslaught of both Disco and people like Cat Stevens, The Carpenters, and others who produced music that became fodder for musicians who were making “Elevator Music”. And while Shoes did not create the heavier music of Deep Purple or Thin Lizzy (to name only two), they were still heavier than many of the artists that made up the music industry in the Seventies.

Having success with “Present Tense” on Elektra, the band then created and recorded their next album. That album was called “Tongue Twister”. The second album of “Tongue Twister” by Shoes has the same feel and sound as the band’s first release. The Power Pop created by the band is there in all of its glory, as if the band had created twice as much material for the first release in 1979 and did not have enough room to include it all on the “Present Tense” album.

After releasing those first major label albums, the band would create many other releases throughout the years. There have been releases from Shoes all the way into the nineties. Just recently, the band celebrated the release of the newest release from the group, “Double Exposure”.

Rarely would anyone have the opportunity to hear entire albums of any band’s music that would go from simple demos to being full-fledged songs on a release. However, that is just what Shoes has done with their latest release of “Double Exposure”. The double album release takes every song that appears on both albums and lets the listener hear the original versions of each song the way the band wanted them to sound on their albums. And while the band went to England to record their major label release of “Present Tense,” the resulting album for Elektra sounds amazingly like the demos that the group had recorded themselves previous to entering the studio to officially create the album that the label would release.

With “Double Exposure,” Shoes took their first two albums and has given their fans a little bit more: “Double Exposure” takes all of the demos used to make up the song list of those first albums, and includes the demos of songs created for, but not included on, both albums. And although these songs would not be included on the official releases from the band, the five songs still have the sound that the band was known for.

The two discs that include the tracks that would later become the first two releases even include a song named “Jet Set”. The two versions of the song included on this current album by Shoes are two years apart. You can tell the band had more confidence in the song than the record label did, as the song would go unreleased; it was not to be included on either album. But with the release of Double Exposure, fans of Shoes now have a place to enjoy Jet Set and the other four songs of “In Her Shadow,” “A Voice Inside Me,” “Take You Away,” and “Ever Again”.

While Shoes has never reached the status of other bands that were around at the same time, there is plenty of material available for those of us who have enjoyed their sound and music. And the band is still is in existence, as Jeff Murphy just recorded a “solo” release entitled Cantilever. And while this new release is officially a “solo” effort, the entire band was part of the creative process of making the album a reality.

But it is the release of Shoes called Double Exposure that is the focus here. If you were a fan of this band, what better way to reconnect with the band than to hear the original versions of songs that made the band’s first two major releases of “Present Tense” and “Tongue Twister”? Or if you have never heard of Shoes, this double CD release is the perfect way to become acquainted with a band that had been a part of the music industry thirty years ago. And while they have been around for three decades, their playing styles and their style of songwriting have made Shoes sound as fresh today as they did back in the late 70’s.

For over fifteen years, I have been a fan of Shoes. So call it what you will (coincidence, fate….), but when I found out about “Double Exposure,” I knew this was my chance to give some “exposure” to a band I have enjoyed for almost two decades: Shoes.

You can find the band Shoes on the Internet by going to their website. There, you can find the new release of “Double Exposure”. And once you experience the album, check out the band’s double album release of “Present Tense” and “Tongue Twister” on one CD to hear the actual albums as they were released by Elektra Records.