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Various Artists | Shoe Fetish: A Tribute To Shoes (Parasol)
With many of the more obvious bands and solo artists having already been subjected to the tribute treatment, particularly those from the pop pantheon such as the Hollies, the Left Banke, the Raspberries, Badfinger and Gene Clark, to mention some of the more auspicious entries of the genre, it's becoming less obvious to name further talents deserving of such an accolade. Shoes however, whilst never having achieved great commercial success, fully deserve the recognition bestowed on them by the release of Shoe Fetish. Formed in 1975 in Zion, Illinois, Shoes were one of the first bands to adopt the lo-fi, do it yourself ethic long before it became fashionable. Before signing to Elektra in 1979 they recorded 3 albums, only 2 of which were actually released and even then these only appeared in very small quantities. One of these, 1977s Black Vinyl Shoes, is widely acknowledged today as a precursor to, and huge influence on, the burgeoning power pop scene of the late 70s and early 80s which continues to reverberate today (as evidenced by this exceptional tribute project). Failing to achieve the success expected of a major label even with the benefit of larger recording budgets Shoes were dropped after 3 critically acclaimed but poor selling albums and were dropped in 1982. They've continued to function albeit sporadically since, releasing several albums on their own Black Vinyl Records label from the late 80s and into the mid 90s. Kicking off with Too Late by the now sadly defunct DM3, and continuing with similarly impressive turns by Matthew Sweet, Doug Powell, The Shazam, Michael Carpenter and The Rubinoos' Al Chan, the credentials of the excellent line-up speak for themselves. Further consolidated by rising talents like SparkleJets UK, Big Hello and Chewy Marble all adding their own polish to Shoes already accomplished pop songcraft, Shoe Fetish is one indulgence you shouldn't be ashamed of succumbing to, such are its many temptations.

Geraint Jones
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001

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