Pittsburgh born singer/songwriter who has created a quirky and diverse body of work. Jules has never had great commercial success - though a few of his songs have made the charts for other artists -- including All Through the Night
for Cyndi Lauper
, If She Knew What She Wants
for The Bangles
, and Whispering Your Name
in Britain for Alison Moyet
Shear is probably best known for helping create MTV's Unplugged series - and he hosted the first season of shows.
Shear got his start in the band The Funky Kings. They disbanded after little airplay and one album. One song - Slow Dancing - written by band member Jack Tempchin, who also wrote Peaceful Easy Feeling for the Eagles, became a hit for Johnny Rivers in 1977 and has been recorded by many other artists.
From there Shear moved on to front his own band -- Jules and the Polar Bears. Despite two superb albums, the band wasn't a commercial success. Yes, they had a new wave sounding name, but the music was/is difficult to classify. They weren't new wave, they weren't power pop, they weren't traditional rock balladeers. An unreleased third album by the group was printed more than a decade after their breakup
Jules then did some work with Slow Children. Though he wasn't technically a member of the band, he produced their two albums and performed on both.
Shear then embarked on his solo career. 1992's The Great Puzzle stands out as his best work. Lyrically shifting from serious, to wry, to humorous - sometimes within the same song - and packed with melodies and catch-phrases not soon forgotten. At times, the vocals on this album sound as if he's imitating Bob Dylan.
Along the way, Jules briefly formed another band - Reckless Sleepers with the Cars' Elliot Easton, but Easton doesn't perform on their one release.
Shear is lefthanded and plays a righthanded guitar backwards with the strings tuned in reverse.
Funky Kings Funky Kings (1976)
Jules & The Polar Bears Got No Breeding (1978)
Jules & The Polar Bears fenetiks (1979)
Jules Shear Watch Dog (1983)
Jules Shear Jules (1984)
Jules Shear The Eternal Return (1985)
Jules Shear Demo-Itis (1986)
Reckless Sleepers Big Boss Sound (1988)
Jules Shear The Third Party (1989)
Jules Shear The Great Puzzle (1992)
Jules Shear Unplug This (1992) promo CD
Jules Shear Horse of a Different Color/The Jules Shear Collection (1976-1989) (1993)
Jules Shear Healing Bones(1994)
Jules & The Polar Bears Bad for Business (1996)
Jules Shear Between Us (1998)
Jules Shear Allow Me (2000)