A great package of work from Shoes – one of the finest acts to come from the Illinois scene in the 70s – presented here with three full albums, and bonus tracks too! First up is their seminal Black
Vinyl Shoes – an album that may well stand as the group's lasting treasure! The set's got a sharp-edged quality that still sounds pretty tremendous all these many years later – power pop, but without any commercial elements to smooth out its energy – served up with a raw, earnest quality that's neither punk nor hard rock – yet which deserved to be praised every bit as much as the best contemporary efforts in those genres too! These guys have a hell of a way with a hook, yet never hit you over the head with it either – and there's a lack of posturing that's really refreshing – a key difference between the sound of Shoes and their bigger Northern Illinois contemporaries Cheap Trick – an attitude that's different than, yet not that far off from the energy of The Replacements to come. Titles include "Capital Gain", "Boys Don't Lie", "She'll Disappear", "Fatal", "It Really Hurts", "Nowhere So Fast", and "Fire For Awhile". Bazooka is the long-lost first album from Shoes – recorded at home, and even rawer than any later releases – appearing here on vinyl for the very first time! The group are already pretty amazing at this early point – right on the money, and almost with more of a punkish vibe at points – although other tunes have them ripping out these mean guitar lines that are definitely way too ballsy for early punk. The songwriting is superb – amazing considering how young the guys were, and that the record was really just recorded for their own initial interest – and not a bigger company looking for a hit. There's also more darkness than in later years too – not everywhere, but at key points that make for a nice edge to the record. Titles include "Pinheads", "Love Took A Turn", "Rock Your One", "Along With Love", "New Meat", "I'm Brazen", "The Atlantic", "My Anisette", and "Educated". Last is One In Versailles – the debut album from Shoes – a cracker of a first record from any band, but a set that hardly made a dent at the time – given that it was only pressed in a limited run of 300 copies! That doesn't stop it from being a real moment of greatness, though – because the set sparkles with charm right from the very first note – nicely less polished than Shoes' later work, especially their major debut on Elektra – with a raspy intensity that really furthers the ideas wrapped up in the core of the tunes – and which almost comes across with the earnest yet relaxed quality of The Feelies in parts – even though this one was cut years before the emergence of that group! Titles include "One Night", "The Sun", "Banjo", "Eggroll Rock", "Do I Get So Shy", "Un Dans Versailles", "Kristine", and "Dance In Your Sleep". Comes in a box with a big booklet of notes – and 18 bonus tracks that include "Rock & Roll Freak", "My Husband's Home", "I'd Like To Take You Out Again", "Nothing Means More", "I Can Make It (demo)", "I Wanna Hide", "Okay (Bomp version)", "Tomorrow Night (Bomp version)", "Baby's Gone", "Ever Again", "Lucky Tail", "Capital Offense, "She'll Disappear (demo)", "I'll Take You Away (alt)", and "Like I Told You (second version)".