Lost Hits from Milwaukee's First Family of Power Pop: 1979-82

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The Shivvers were one of those bands that, in retrospect, seemed to have it all, except for a hit record. They had great tunes, impressive instrumental skills, energy to spare, stage smarts and even good looks (including a lead singer who would have been every geeky new wave boy's dream date, Jill Kossoris). However, they had the poor fortune to be a great band in Milwaukee, WI, where they built up an impressive local following without much hope of attracting any major media attention (though Eric Carmen was a big fan and was in line to produce the Shivvers album that never was). Twenty surviving Shivvers recordings -- their lone self-released 45, unreleased studio sessions, live tapes and demos -- have been compiled for the album Lost Hits from Milwaukee's First Family of Power Pop 1979-82, and while that title may be clumsy it's also perfectly accurate. In almost any alternate universe you could care to name, some of these songs would be hits, particularly the pure pop wonders "Teen Line," "No Reaction" and "No Substitute," the '50s flavored "My Association," and the slow and moody "Remember Tonight." Kossoris had a great voice and a fine hand at the keyboards, guitarists Mike Pyle and Jim Eannelli could fuse force and melody with ease (Breck Burns took over for Eannelli in the band's latter days), and bassist Scott Krueger and drummer Jim Richardson were a rhythm section who gave the songs a lean and wiry drive. The result was a group that could combine British Invasion variety pop classicism with an almost-punky dose of adrenaline, and the stuff on this set is every bit as satisfying as anything the Scruffs, Shoes or the Sneakers were up to around the same time. Calling the Shivvers the "Great Lost Power Pop Band" may be going a bit far to make a point, but judging from this album, there's more than a kernel of truth in that description; fans of great hooks should make haste to check this out. (Fans should also know that if you slip this disc into your computer's CD-R drive, you can check out five video clips of the Shivvers in action, which make clear these kids were as strong on-stage as in the studio.)

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