Milwaukee's pop Shivvers get a new lease on life
Imagine writing a song so memorable that 20 years later a record label appropriates the title for its name. That's what happened to long-defunct Milwaukee band The Shivvers.
Teenline is the power pop label run by Massachusetts archivist Chuck Warner. Back in the vinyl-era Warner made his name with Boston-based Throbbing Lobster Records. Since compact discs took over, Warner's Hyped2Death umbrella of labels has excavated UK and U.S. punk and power pop DIY recordings that never made it above the radar.
Teenline recently released "Lost Hits," a 20-song, five video compilation Milwaukee quintet The Shivvers recorded from 1979-'82. The group's lone self-produced 45, "Teen Line," can bring in $300 on eBay.
"I never knew about the Shivvers, never played them on any of my radio shows in New Haven or Boston (1975-1989), nor ever saw a demo tape from them when I had my first record label Throbbing Lobster," Warner says. "Finally I was visiting a friend in Chicago in 1996 -- he'd just come back from a record-buying spree in Milwaukee with few copies of the Shivvers' single and he played it for me, along with the Orbits' and the Sidewalks' singles, and while I instantly had to have them all it was the Shivvers that really blew me away."
For a brief window of time the Shivvers combined the best elements of classic pop, punk and high-energy music. They played gigs with Iggy Pop and headlined Summerfest's rock stage for an FM radio broadcast.
"We were on fire," says guitarist Jim Eanelli, "we rocked like a punk band but played pop songs. Back then punk bands wanted to outdo each other but we didn't pander to the speed of change." He characterizes the band as combining backward and forward thinking. "Nobody could touch us, maybe because we couldn't be pigeon-holed."
Jill Kossoris the band's vocalist, keyboardist and primary songwriter, recalls the influences the players brought to the table.
"Jim (Richardson, drums) came from '60s garage rock and girl groups, Mike (Pyle, guitar) was folk/blues and Scott (Krueger, bass) was English Mod/Rolling Stones. It was a strange combination of great songwriters (Burt Bacharach/Carol King/Motown/Roxy Music). The one thing we all had in common was we were not musical snobs."
The band's recording sessions variously recall the Flamin' Groovies and Phil Spector's magnum opus hits, especially on a Mike Hoffmann-produced session which featured Kossoris on Mellotron. At other times Big Star and Badfinger also come to mind.
"I think the urgency and emotion found its way to tape to a degree," recalls Pyle. "Jim (Eanelli) had been in the studio a bit and knew how to get a decent guitar sound. I had no clue and basically used my stage rig, which sounded way too small in the studio. Should have used much smaller amps, I was going for that Lovin' Spoonful/Rascals-type tone. I think the rhythm tracks hold up on that stuff, Scott and Jim just had a great sound. And to this day everything Jim records sounds like that!"
Kossoris, who once arranged to have The Raspberries play at her high school, knew exactly what she wanted to present to the public.
"Personally, I wanted to bring something new and unique to rock and roll as a female, to show that women could write their own songs and have a confrontational stage presence. I felt an affinity to the girl group/Motown sound but those songs were written and produced by men -- and they didn't rock hard enough."
She deliberately avoided sex-as-an-image. "I wanted people to come and see us because we were a cool band, not because the band had a scantily clad lead singer."Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
dukefame said: Milwaukee has produced many creative bands since the "new wave/punk" era of the late 70's and early 80's. Sure the number of clubs has dwindled with the advent of a higher drinking age and the "DJ" as an art form...but creativity is alive and well in Milwaukee! Actually a majority of the acts that you refer were simply aping what had already been huge in NYC, LA and London 3 or 4 years previous.
eaglescout said: wow hoodie, you sure do get worked up easy! for the record, though, i'm not insinuating anything. i'm flat out telling you-the singer sounds like Chrissie Hynde, and if you disagree you are in denial. i am glad that you have better things to do with your time, but if you need suggestions for things to do, i suggest getting your hearing checked or anger management classes. for you hoodie, i reccomend both.
Hoodie47 said: Eaglescout: I DON'T HAVE to agree with with your comparison to the Pretender's....you keep insinuating that I'm in denial of this comparison, (albiet the flattering comparison)....I JUST DON'T AGREE WITH YOU. Can't YOU accept that not everyone sees this YOUR way?! Get the hell over yourself! This is my final comment....I have better things to do with my time.
eaglescout said: wait. MY viewpoint is shallow and sexist because YOU refuse to hear and admit the similarities? how odd. besides, i didn't say she sounded like pat freakin' benatar did i? i'm having a little trouble understanding the trouble some of you folks are having with my earlier post. i praised the record fer chrissakes! i compared the singer to a rock and roll icon, and you folks acted like i said the glass was half empty. i told you how folks had the band pigeon-holed and you act like i, myself, pigeon-holed them. i'll say it again so maybe you good intentioned people that only read half posts will read this half-i like the record!
hoodie47 said: I don't mind the correction to the timeline...thanks. (Although I still don't agree with the comparison made in the other posting.)
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