To a legion of power pop fans, Shoes are legendary. To a lot of other people – and especially those in the UK – they remain a largely unknown entity. While some fans will claim that 1977’s ‘Black Vinyl Shoes’ is the Shoes masterpiece, it merely shows a band on the rise. It’s a record with some good songs, a lot of enthusiasm and a certain amount of DIY charm – and it’s likely that DIY “cool factor” that makes it so highly prized by those vocal champions. In terms of consistency, it’s somewhat hit and miss. If you’re looking to discover a band at their peak, look no further than the three Shoes albums recorded for Elektra Records between 1979 and 1982.
This 4CD compilation presents each of those albums in full, alongside a massive vault of bonus tracks – fifty four in all – making ‘Elektrafied’ the ultimate Shoes package for the uninitiated.
With their third album, 1979’s ‘Head First’, The Babys finally gave the world a genre classic. Their first two albums weren’t short on great material, but occasionally wavered with a couple of lightweight tracks here and their which sometimes seemed to lessen the overall quality, especially from an AOR/melodic rock fan’s perspective. In ‘Head First’, it felt like the first time all of the pieces truly fit. Aside from a bizarre song where John Waite recounts a childhood visit to the dentist, pretty much everything on the album represented The Babys at their absolute best.
Often associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, glam rock band Girl formed in London in 1979. Gaining a following on the live circuit, they quickly signed to Don Arden’s Jet Records – home to Electric Light Orchestra and Magnum – and released their debut album ‘Sheer Greed’ the following year. Decades on, if ‘Sheer Greed’ is mentioned at all, it’s by association. The band’s frontman, Philip Lewis, later joined L.A. Guns and guitarist Phil Collen replaced Pete Willis in Def Leppard, first appearing on the band’s third album – 1983’s multi-million selling ‘Pyromania’. Girl were always a reasonably good band in their own right, of course, and although by no means perfect, ‘Sheer Greed’ has enough good moments to remind listeners why they perhaps deserve a little more credit of their own.
Some fantastic news for fans of classic 80s pop. In January 2020, Cherry Red are set to reissue Kim Wilde’s first three albums as deluxe sets. All three will also receive the coloured vinyl treatment.
Following the same set up as the 2018 Howard Jones reissues, the albums – Kim Wilde (1981), ‘Select’ (1982) and ‘Catch As Catch Can’ – are to be made available as 2CD/DVD sets, with each one hosting a whole bunch of bonus tracks and rarities.
In some people’s minds, Samson are often considered either a second division act of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or simply “that band that Bruce Dickinson used to be in”. While neither is technically incorrect – historically, most NWOBHM bands are now second division compared to scene titans Iron Maiden and Saxon, and Bruce was in the band – such basic thinking does Samson a massive disservice. By the time they’d recorded their debut album in 1979, the band were actually at the forefront of the emerging scene. They were one of the first to release a full length album and despite some fluctuation in early line-ups, at their best, they could more than hold their own when it came to hard rock entertainment.