Shoes “Present Tense”

Posted 18 Feb 2012 in 70s, Albums of 1979, Albums of the 70s, Power Pop



Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#634 in the Series) is Shoes, Present Tense.

Today we’re looking at the band Shoes and their album Present Tense. Are you familiar with Shoes? If you’re from the Midwest area of the States that there is a very good chance you are. There is also a good chance that you’ve heard of them if you were anywhere near MTV in its very early days, you remember when they used to play music videos! It was quite fun and in those days because there was some intrigue and what they played because not everyone had videos so they had to play what they could get so you often saw some quite interesting things.

Shoes are from Zion Illinois. I say our and not was because even after 35+ years they are still together. Their origins beginning in the mid-70s with brothers John and Jeff Murphy and high school friend Gary Klebe decided to put a band together. The final piece was when they added drummer Skip Meyer. Skip at the time was dating Gary’s sister.

Besides their wonderful power-pop they were also known for recording their early albums in their own studio which was located in the Murphy brother’s living room. So maybe the term studio isn’t even appropriate there. In these modern times that’s not as impressive as digital technology and software have made that somewhat of an everyday occurrence, but were talking 74 or 75 here. It was pretty much an unheard of practice at that time. Much of those recordings were done on a simple four track TEAC 3340.

The first recording was called Un Dans Versaillesit asnd was released in 1975. They only pressed 300 of these and they were sold locally and at some of their shows. Bazooka was recorded the next year and that was followed by what’s considered their true debut called Black Vinyl Shoes. Present Tense would be released in 1979 after the band signed a deal with Elektra Records. This would be the first of three albums recorded with Elektra and the first to not be recorded in the Murphy residence. The album would be recorded in England using 24 tracks instead of the old four.  The band did a great job in preserving their stripped-down power pop sound leaning heavily on buzzy guitars and heavily layered vocals.

The two songs that receive the most airplay were “Tomorrow Night” and “Too Late.” They are the two songs that you may recognize, especially “Tomorrow Night.”

Power-pop was just starting to be known at that time. Disco was slowing down and punk was just about to be born. While Shoes were recording this album, The Knack released what would be their monster album, Get the Knack. While the success of this would seem like a good thing for Shoes it actually hurt them in a way. Even though they’ve been playing this style of music for five or six years they were unfortunately thrown into a list of latecomers and known as a band that was just following The Knack’s lead. Nothing could be further from the truth.

— Larry Carta

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Tomorrow Night (Klebe, Murphy) 2:56
  2. Too Late (Klebe) 2:43
  3. Hangin’ Around With You (Klebe, Murphy) 3:29
  4. Your Very Eyes (Murphy) 3:08
  5. In My Arms Again (Murphy) 4:04
  6. Somebody Has What I Had (Murphy) 3:19
Side Two
  1. Now and Then (Klebe, Murphy) 3:12
  2. Every Girl (Murphy) 2:41
  3. I Don’t Miss You (Klebe) 4:10
  4. Cruel You (Murphy) 4:08
  5. Three Times: See Me/Say It/Listen (Klebe, Murphy) 3:53
  6. I Don’t Wanna Heart It (Murphy ) 2:57


  • John Murphy – Bass
  • Jeff Murphy – Guitar
  • Gary Klebe – Guitar
  • Skip Meyer  – Drums


Here’s some additional Power Pop albums for you to check out.

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Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. coachmaddog (19 Feb 2012, 20:02)

    One of my favorites about 30 years ago. I can’t wait to start reviewing lp’s here again. You guys are taking so many of the good ones, though!

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