The modern pop underground seemingly has a bit of a love affair with the tribute album. There are a plethora of tribute records on the market with largely the same cast of characters appearing each time, and thankfully, they do tend to be consistent, if not revelatory. What sets Shoe Fetish: A Tribute to the Shoes apart from the pack, however, is that it's one of the only times where this crowd has taken on a band who is essentially one of their peers. The Shoes existed in relative obscurity through the '70s and '80s, making albums for a small but devoted cult of power pop fans, many of whom ultimately picked up guitars and started their own bands. Of the bands here, almost all are known quantities, like the Shazam and Michael Carpenter, but apart from Matthew Sweet, none are stars. Most make great, quality pop music but exist in relative obscurity, and that means that Shoe Fetish makes a lot of sense. These 22 songs actually benefit a great deal in reworked form, actually, because even a lot of the best Shoes cuts suffered from stiff, clockwork-like playing and dated production. That means many of these versions -- such as Carpenter's beefed-up, more rock-oriented "Love Is Like a Bullet" or Bobby Sutliff's jangly take on "Turnaround" -- arguably improve upon the originals. Of course, many of these bands also opt for imitation and some are so indistinguishable that they never make an impression, but on the whole, Shoe Fetish is an effective tribute to a band who many pop fans never got a chance to hear. Maybe this is their chance to start.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Damas