Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 1)

Another music nerd done good, Marshall Crenshaw is a breath of fresh air. Coming out of Detroit, he was cast as John Lennon in the West Coast and national touring companies of the musical Beatlemania in the late ‘70s. He moved on to portraying Buddy Holly in La Bamba in 1986. But when left to his own (musical) devices, Crenshaw writes shiny, witty, heartfelt pop gems.

What I Think of This Album

Like all power-poppers, Crenshaw is a classicist at heart. Not as beholden to the ‘50s as Dave Edmunds, there is still a strong early rock element to his music. But for all the melodicism, pristine sonics, classic arrangements, and intelligent lyrics, an equally critical component of Crenshaw’s appeal is the sheer joy that comes through on the recording. Produced by Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go-Go’s, the Raveonettes), Crenshaw’s debut album is as crisp as the sheets at the Ritz-Carlton.

With his brother Robert on drums, Crenshaw energetically churns out one toe-tapper after another, starting with the yearning, perpetually-teenage “There She Goes Again.” He outdoes himself on the next track, with the throwback “Someday, Someway,” whose title/lyrical hook – to say nothing of the guitar sound – probably cemented the Buddy Holly comparisons. The handclaps and harmonies are magical. Any doubt possibly remaining after “There She Goes Again” is completely eliminated here – Crenshaw’s craft was already fully developed. Another standout is “Cynical Girl,” with a melody to die for, perfect handclaps, and sparkling production. The Byrds are the touchstone for “Mary Anne,” with slightly more muscular drumming from Robert and a sumptuous presentation by Gotterher. Crenshaw impresses throughout the album, including with “I’ll Do Anything” (with a surprisingly tough-ish solo). Buddy Holly is sonically invoked again on the bright “The Usual Thing,” while Crenshaw does a better job making the “She Can’t Dance” (with a guitar solo that contains a little grit, even) his own. A cover of 1962 soul song  “Soldier of Love” (made famous by the Beatles, though) is fine. “Not For Me” builds nicely and is a good deep cut.

Gottehrer co-wrote “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “I Want Candy,” and formed Sire Records with Seymour Stein.

The Best Thing About This Album

Crenshaw’s exuberance is undeniable.

Release Date

April, 1982

The Cover Art

The colorized art deco aesthetic is a real turn-off, and I have no idea what Crenshaw is doing with his hands/glasses.

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