The 2001 Parasol Records release Shoe Fetish - A Tribute To Shoes brought together 22 artists to honor the Zion, Illinois power pop band. The participants included Matthew Sweet, Bobby Sutliff, Sparkle* Jets UK, The Spongetones, The Shazam, and Big Hello.
One of the CD’s best tracks was a cover of “Never Had It Better” by the California-based outfit The Tearaways, and their guest vocalist Scott McCarl. It was a brilliant adaptation that pumped up the Beatles influence that had inspired the original until it sounded like it could have come from Rubber Soul or Revolver. The tempo is faster than the one used by Shoes when they recorded “Never Had It Better” for their Stolen Wishes album, with ringing guitars and great harmonies.
McCarl, who also worked in a later version of The Raspberries, and recorded the solo Play On in 1998, unleashed some authentic John Lennon wailing as The Tearaways raced to the finish line, and the song ends with a recreation of Lennon saying The Beatles could have just as easily called themselves Shoes. The Tearaways released Beat Yer Own Mersey in 2006 and continue to perform live.
Incidentally, when I interviewed Jeff Murphy, John Murphy, and Gary Klebe of Shoes for the Illinois Entertainer prior to the release of Stolen Wishes in 1990, they told me they hadn’t even been aware of Lennon’s remark until they heard it on the ABC TV special Heroes Of Rock in 1979.