Walking the Velvet Path
Shirley, the a-side of the sole vinyl release of legendary Cleveland proto-punks The Mirrors, which came out on Roir in 1976, is a curious object. Seeming to look both forward and back over the course of its four and a half minutes. Jamie Klimek the band's leader was an unashamed Velvet Underground freak and its the Velvets groove that is primmarily evident here. The New Yorkers had played no less than fourteen times in Cleveland between 1968 and 1971 and Klimek had clearly stood by the lip of the stage on many of these evenings and inhaled long and deeply until their influence infused his musical bloodstream.
Mirrors Something That Would Never Do, collection of demos released a couple of years back is a fascinating set of recordings and a document of those times. A series of excellent songs that make up one of the great lost seventies alternative rock albums. Admittedly in thrall to the Velvets almost note by note, but there's certainly no small market for that out there, certainly nowadays. While contemporaries, Modern Lovers, Suicide, Television, and Pere Ubu, (who also owe that band no inconsiderable debt), took things elsewhere, to recognisably unexplored territories, The Mirrors were content to confine themselves within the Velvets fenced off field of possibilities.
Shirley though is particularly interesting in that as well as doffing a cap to Lou and Co, it also seems to point the way forward to where this music was going over the ensuing decades. Klimek sounds like no-one quite so much here as Lawrence from Felt, Martin Phillips of The Chills has mentioned the song as a particular favourite of his and its breathy, melodic chug can be heard in many of the Velvets direct or indirect descendants such as the early Go Betweens, Clean or Luna. Never mind The Mirrors potential legacy though, all this time later a version of the band has reformed and is playing again to fortunate audiences, which is good to know.