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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, was recorded at Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, England.

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.

Jeff Murphy
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
John Murphy
Vocals, Bass, guitar, keyboards
Gary Klebe
Guitar, vocals, keyboards
Skip Meyer
Mike Zelenko
Ric Menck