IN 1977, when the Shoes named their record label "Black Vinyl" after the title of the first album, "Black Vinyl Shoes," they didn't intend it ironically. But after a dalliance with Elektra, the Zion, Ill., band (then a quartet, now a trio) reactivated Black Vinyl to issue CD compilations of its work. Now comes "Stolen Wishes," the Shoes' first album since 1984 and the first one to be released in America since 1982.

Black Vinyl may not manufacture black vinyl anymore, but the Shoes still make the same sort of sparkling neo-Merseybeat pop-rock they always have. The music of these studio hermits, who are making their first East Coast tour ever this week, remains as pure and sweet -- bittersweet, actually -- as such antecedents as the Hollies, the Beau Brummels, and of course the Beatles. Though the triple-threat songwriting team of John Murphy, Gary Klebe and Jeff Murphy no longer appear quite so young (the latter in particular looks alarmingly like a Bee Gee these days), they still sing of young love gained and lost in such instant-classic rock titles as "I'll Follow You," "I Knew You'd Be Mine" and "She's Not the Same."

As the dBs demonstrated almost a decade ago, it's possible to give these sounds a contemporary spin, and some may be disappointed that the Shoes don't attempt that. They're happy just keeping the tradition alive, though, and they do it so well that it's pointless to argue. THE SHOES --

"Stolen Wishes" (Black Vinyl). Appearing with Hyaa! and the Revellaires Friday at the 9:30 club.