"Falling somewhere in the middle of a musical Bermuda triangle (Dick Dale, the Talking Heads and Ennio Morricone being the three points) this track [Hal Shows' "Black, Black, No Trade Back," from the 1999 release Whitman's Sampler] manages to find its own voice. Twitchy organ vamps and a serious reverb on guitar mark a tune on which the emphasis is the structure rather than quick-picking. Great bridge and a strange David Byrne-sounding 'meep...meepmeep' make the four minutes fly by." Andrew Dansby, Rolling Stone
"Two minutes, ten seconds of souped-up, frantic, organ-driven psychedelic soul capped with a bloodcurdling primal scream, "Its Supernatural!" [also from Whitman's Sampler] wouldn't sound out of place at all on a choice garage rock compilation like 'Nuggets.' Or the next 'Austin Powers' soundtrack, for that matter." Richard Skanse, Rolling Stone
"Hal Shows' songs are as rawboned as the best Creedence Clearwater Revival; they link personal frustration and political rage without wasting a word or a note."
"[Persian Gulf], led by the guitarist-singer Hal Shows, has applied the lessons of punk-rock --directness and economy-- to riffs inherited from soul, rockabilly and the blues . . . Mr. Shows sings in a raspy monotone recalling the Sex Pistols Johnny Rotten. But his message isn't punkish cynicism or anger; some songs are about falling in love --uneasily-- and some are surreal narratives or sidelong political statements . . . Although the music sounds workmanlike and rough-hewn, there's not a note out of place; the band tossed off a song in an odd meter, 7/4, as easily as a funk tune. Without making a fuss, Persian Gulf shows how much life is left in the rock and roll basics."
both quotes are from Jon Pareles, 1984-86
"Pure, straightforward, unadulterated rock and roll. No posing, no cute little gimmicks or fashion statements. Persian Gulf represents the best that rock has to offer. Hal Shows is an artist with a vision; it isn't a pretty one. Frustration, betrayal, the search for love, and the failure of Christianity are themes running through his work. Influenced by Dylan and Byrne, as well as by traditional folk music, Shows shows as much breadth as he does depth. Persian Gulf: The Movie . . . deserves a place in the collections of those who know what rock and roll is all about." --Steve Hecox, 1986
"(Birthday Suit) is the most consistently solid, low-budget rock album to pass my way in ages. When he rocks, Shows has a bite similar to Elvis Costello, though more muted, complete with cheesy keyboards. Some of the strongest tracks are in a more acoustic, folk-rock vein, tuneful and somewhat wearily sung, with an unusual absence of the self-pity that other performers would usually inject into them. With a narrative, slightly whimsical flavor, they often recall vintage Ray Davies." --Richie Unterberger, 1990
"The music industry is now run by market analysts, rather than lovers of music. They worry about demographics first and inspiration last, if at all. They compulsively underestimate the capacity of people to respond to anything new . . ."
"This solo debut displays Shows' expansive knowledge of rock and roll history . . . filtered through his intelligent songwriting. He manages to evoke the past without sounding retro, a neat trick. He is also literate and witty in his songs without being pompous or condescending . . . The record's underpinning is a steady flow of percussion instruments adding a non-rock texture to the mostly roots rock and roll songs . . . The album is diverse in sound but unified in theme and feeling." --Steve Macqueen, 1990
"Mixing topical, politically sophisticated lyrics with garage rock licks, Persian Gulf achieves the elusive goal of meaningful music that's fun to dance to . . . " --Mark Brown, 1985
"Hal Shows is a natural born poet and a rock and roll mastermind all in one extremely talented package. As leader of former Tallahassee band Persian Gulf, shows specialized in wonderfully melodic, devilishly clever punk-pop that packed local dance floors in the early eighties . . . This delicious sampler of of Shows' oeuvre [Whitman's Sampler, 1999] surveys the post-gulf years, but the band's raw power hums under the surface of these tunes." --Kati Schardl, 2000
"The fact that rock is now selling beer and sports is telling, I think . . . rock is about independence, not about selling beer . . ."
"On Birthday Suit, his solo debut, Shows uses B-52's bass lines, Buddy Holly's reverb drenched guitars, Leon Redbone's blues form and vocal chorales that combine R.E.M. freneticism with the sweetness of the Beatles to enhance his straightforward songwriting. "Supernatural" is a terse blues essay, "Evelyn Anderson" a Nick Drake-like folk fantasy, and "Morales Died" a charged, indirectly political rocker." --Tom Moon, 1989
"Hal Shows writes and sings songs in a confiding croon. With close cropped hair, a tight smile, and round, rimless glasses, Shows looks like the kind of yuppie who takes pride in having outgrown rock and roll; instead he has grown into it, bending it to his will . . . the effect is exhilarating. This performance began with an acoustic version of his band, a quartet including guitars, a cello, and modulated vocal harmonies. Shows filled this set with love songs that used invigoratingly forthright, explicit languauge. The songs were beautifully arranged . . . High points included the most hard-rocking version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" I've ever heard." --Ken Tucker, 1984
" . . . songs with catchy melodies and tart lyrics are played with slashing intensity. The final effect is one of the best rock-and-roll paradoxes: tight music that sounds tossed off." --Ken Tucker, 1985
" . . . our basic approach is pretty much garage; we don't have much use for solos or virtuosic parts. We like to leave it while the interest is high . . ."
"Hal's music grows on you with each repeated listening-- sort of like a more chemically balanced Syd Barrett or a one-man version of Camper van Beethoven, with all their collective quirkiness and eccentricities housed inside his head. His songs are peopled by a mottled cast of characters that we either become fast friends with or end up wanting to know more about . . . Hal Shows is his own man playing his own songs . . .Birthday Suit couldn't be a more appropriate move for such a distinct and individual artist." --D.I.Y. (?), 1989
" Persian Gulf's first full length LP has it all. Following up the critically acclaimed 1984 Changing the Weather, The Movie incorporates all that the earlier work suggested and doubles it. Hal Shows must be a man who takes his time crafting his work . . . everything here is perfectly in place without being precious, not an extraneous lick or word in sight, not an inappropriate harmony or misplaced modulation. With little fanfare, Persian Gulf has arrived to announce that there's life left in this American rock 'n' roll thing . . ." --Jeff Tamarkin, 1986
"Music from the heart, gut and head. Persian Gulf isn't pretentious, isn't trendy, isn't even particularly timely, (though you can't get much more up-to-the-minute than their 'Free South Africa')-- just a basic, attuned trio standing alone on their own six feet. The Movie, their first full-length LP, showcases honed to the bone pop . . . [and] restrained acoustic ballads. Either style (and the host of others they flirt with on this cut-packed album) is delivered with sincerity and know-how." --CMJ Editorial Staff Jackpot,1986
"I feel that all good music is essentially unclassifiable in its own time . . . now they try to force music into strict categories, but its bullshit. Rock and Roll has always encompassed many different things . . . rock can go anywhere you can think . . ."
"Genre: rock and roll, with considerable consciense and no bullshit."
"Conscious rather than correct, without a hint of hard-cores parracidal/mysogynistic hysteria, this eight-song EP [Changing the Weather] is constricted and expansive, sour and ebullient all at once. Hal Shows understands his own anarchic/apocalyptic impulses, and his Lennonesque rhythm guitar provides the extra momentum he needs to stay on top of things."
"Music from a trouble zone: The United States of America."
"Changing the Weather is certainly the best EP I've heard this year . . ."
" . . . this straightforwardly muscular, unabashedly intelligent Philly-based band will perform originals you'll remember instantly, even if you haven't been able to find their EP, and a version of 'Not Fade Away' that turns it into the anti-trendie anthem."
(all quotes from Robert Christgau, 1984-86 )
" . . .I mean, rock and roll can't be 'raised' to the level of 'high art,' or anything like that, because it's already there . . ."
"[Lifeboat] affirms once again Shows' artistic strengths-- a gift for melody, thoughful lyrics, clever arrangements, and a bare-bones rock and roll approach that manages to incorporate a variety of sounds and styles . . . and, for a work spread over so much time and so many places, Lifeboat works as a coherent whole." --Steve Macqueen, 1995
"Hal is Tallahassee's best-kept secret . . .writing and performing the strongest, most thoughtful material of any local act I can remember . . . [Lifeboat] is my favorite record this year." --David Morse, 1995
"Local songwriter Hal Shows' first record in five years is a thinking man's rock and roll album, using a diverse musical palette to paint Shows' beautifuly thought out pictures." --Steve Macqueen, 1996
"Lifeboat reveals a songwriter who knows how to manipulate his audience by balancing seamy imagery with catchy, often playful melodies . . . the bleak philosophical outlook that informs Lifeboat is belied by Shows' deadpan delivery and a grab bag of musical styles that make the CD easy to digest . . . Appropriately, his most disturbing tale here is also, in a way, his funniest . . . Throughout Lifeboat, Shows' rage is never so far below the surface that it goes unnoticed." --Jim Murphy, Miami New Times, 1996
"I'm lucky, in a way . . . I owe no-one anything for Lifeboat, so I can do what I want with it . . . I can sling it off rooftops if I want. There's a certain beauty to that . . ."