Audiophile: Digital, October 2020

Cherry Red QCRCDBOX91 (four discs)

Subtitled 'The Elektra Years 1979-1982', this chronicles one of the meanest injustices of the rock biz, for Shoes deserved to enjoy A-list success in The Beatles-inspired power pop milieu, instead of the cult status that cursed so many of them, eg, Badfinger, Raspberries and too many others. This is all about superb song craft, harmonies of Hollies/Everlys brilliance and production quality which exceeds what is expected of a band without star status. The detailed booklet explains why their lone shot at major-label glory failed them, the mystery being the inability of these hook-laden, mini-masterpieces to chart. This contains their three Elektra albums, each with bonus tracks, and a fourth CD of rarities. Exquisite. KK


Earth Wind & Fire
Spirit & That's The Way Of The World
Vocalion CDSML8574

Top-level disco-funk is overdue for reassessment: if you're too young to have experienced it first time around, this pair of chart-toppers is a good place to start. EW&F were one of the genre's top acts, ready to prove that dance music can be enjoyed without a glitter ball in the room. If it weren't for the outré stage-wear (à la The Isleys), this would be found under 'Funk', but the familiar material is too redolent of the era, like hearing anything from Saturday Night Fever – 'Shining Star', 'Getaway' and more. By the way, Vocalion continues maddeningly not to put paired releases in chronological order, so you get the 1976 title before the one from 1975. KK


The Idle Race
The Birthday Party
Grape Fruit QCRSEG065D (two discs; part mono)

OK, so they're but a footnote in the history of rock, but leader Jeff Lynne would go on to The Move, ELO and Traveling Wilburys. This expanded version of their debut album from 1968 gives you both the mono and stereo mixes, plenty of extra material and – for fans of The Move – a version of '(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree', from The Move's first LP. It's an early concept album that fits in with the era that gave us Sgt Pepper, The Kinks' Arthur and others of that ilk, so it oozes whimsical Britishness, which should have captivated those who were charmed by such projects. Alas, it failed (like Arthur) to do so, here and in the US, but it's a joy nonetheless. KK

The Love Revolution
Teensville Records TV1036

Like power pop, 'sunshine pop' is a genre that you either adore for its lightness or you detest because (unlike the sassier power pop) it can veer toward the saccharine. This is all about harmonies as defined by The Beach Boys, and it reeks of California optimism, just as this 31-track collection's subtitle states: 'Soft Sunshine & Harmony Pop 1966-1971'. While few of the names are familiar – and this isn't where you'll find the genre's leading lights like The Association or Harpers Bizarre – it's a feast of rarities and surprises, like charming covers of Jerome Kern's 'They Didn't Believe Me' and The Youngbloods' 'All Over the World'. A blessing for archivists. KK