Shoes (from Zion, Illinois) recorded and pressed their first album, One In Versailles (Un Dans Versaille), in 1974. The title referred to the fact that guitarist Gary Klebe was in France studying architecture at the time.
Three hundred copies of the disc were pressed and distributed to friends and sold in Zion record stores.
Drummer Skip Meyer joined in 1976, and the group – with all its members now out of school and working day jobs – began recording Black Vinyl Shoes on a TEAC four-track tape machine in guitarist Jeff Murphy’s living room.
The independent album, featuring 15 classically-constructed power pop songs – five each by the three songwriting members of the band – was released in the summer of 1977 on the group’s own Black Vinyl Records label. Only a thousand copies were pressed, with most hand-delivered to northern Illinois record stores, the rest to rock critics.
Black Vinyl Shoes attracted the attention of Greg Shaw, a critic, power pop fanatic and owner of the independent Bomp! label. Shaw convinced PVC Records (a division of import outlet Jem) to remix and reissue the album.
The LP received glowing reviews and was picked up by Sire in the UK, but little was happening for the band. Then, near the close of 1978, Shoes recorded some new demos and sent tapes to the major labels.
Elektra picked the group up and their major label debut, Present Tense (1979), was recorded at The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, England. It peaked at #50 on the Billboard 200 and yielded the minor hit single Too Late, which reached #75 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also included a new recording of Tomorrow Night which Elektra later released as a single.
Shoes spent the winter of 1980 in their Zion studio (a basement shared by a local weight watchers group) recording the album Tongue Twister in demo form before trotting it out to Hollywood’s United Western Studios, following it with Boomerang in 1982.
Skip Meyer had left the group by 1984 and was replaced by a series of drummers, including Barry Shumaker, Ric Menck, John Richardson, and Jeff Hunter.
In 2007, the band released a double CD titled Double Exposure, containing demos of their songs from the albums Present Tense and Tongue Twister.
In January 2011, Shoes got together in the studio with drummer John Richardson to lay down rhythm tracks for a new batch of songs. Over the next 14 months, recording continued on what would become their first studio album of new material in over 17 years, Ignition, released in 2012.
Skip Meyer died in July 2014, aged 64.
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Vocals, Bass, guitar, keyboards
Guitar, vocals, keyboards