Jules Shear: Unplug This
Though he's never been able to record a hit of his own, singer/songwriter Jules Shear has recorded several albums of highly accessible, hit-worthy material, and as a testiment to his abilities, he's penned hits for others including "All Through the Night" for Cyndi Lauper and "If She Knew She What She Wants" for the Bangles.
Born in Pittsburg, Shear began writing songs as a teenager. He relocated to Los Angeles in the mid-'70s, joining his first band, a typically laidback combo called the Funky Kings. The band released one album for Arista in 1976. While "Slow Dancing" from the album (written by Jack Tempchin) would later be hit for Johnny Rivers, the three Shear songs were clearly the highlights of the album. Shear left the following year to form his own group, Jules & the Polar Bears, who released two critically acclaimed, though commercially overlooked, albums for Columbia. When a third album was rejected by the label, Shear forged on as a solo artist.
Signing on to EMI-America, he released two solo albums, 1983's Watch Dog and 1985's Eternal Return; both
received critical praise but few sales. Once again, he was dropped by his label and unable to secure another deal.
Shear then formed the Reckless Sleepers with the Cars' Elliot Easton. In 1988, without Easton, the Reckless
Sleepers released their sole album for IRS, Big Boss Sounds; it failed to make much impact though "If We Never
Meet Again" from the album was later covered by Roger McGuinn. In contrast to the Reckless Sleepers' hard rock
tendencies, Shear teamed up with the Church's Marty Willson-Piper for an all acoustic, Dylan-esque album, The
Third Party in 1989. The album ultimately led to a spot on MTV, hosting the first 13 episodes of -- he
left when the show switched to the single-artist format. Shear followed with two critically acclaimed, more or less
pop-oriented albums -- 1992's The Great Puzzle and 1994's Healing Bones -- two of his finest albums to date. In
1998, he released Between Us, an album of duets for Highstreet Records.
Shear moved to Rounder Records
subsidiary, Zoe Records, for his April 2000 release, Allow Me.
Jules Shear, who co-wrote the Richard Manuel tribute "Too Soon Gone" on The Band's "come-back" album Jericho (Shear's own version of "Too Soon Gone" can be found on the 2000 album Allow Me), and also cut a few studio demos with The Band in the early '90s, recorded the song "Never Again or Forever", written together with Rick Danko, for his 1991 album Unplug This. This song also appears on Shear's 1994 album Healing Bones.
Jules Shear - Unplug This - 1991 - Polydor SACD-443