Marshall Crenshaw – The Best of Marshall Crenshaw: This Is Easy

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

Not an insignificant amount of work goes into each blog post – which, to paraphrase the subheading of the blog, no one gives a shit about – and it strikes me that this is largely symbolic of my existence in general. The salient point, though, is that I have to listen to an album a number of times to figure out what I want to say about it, and (as I have mentioned before), when I hit an artist whose work I own a lot of, it can get oppressive listening to the same music (usually to the exclusion of much else). The Marshall Crenshaw section of my collection required me to listen to four of his albums; I decided to cast aside one of those, so I have only kept and reviewed three. But it turns out that Mr. Crenshaw does not hold up well to repeated repeated listens. I think he is very talented and I respect his work, and he seems like a decent chap, too (though what do I know?), but his music gets more cloying and lightweight with each new playing. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood.

What I Think of This Album

The only Marshall Crenshaw album you need, which is the mark of a good comp (especially when dealing with an inconsistent artist – that over one-third of this compilation comes from the first two albums is something of an indictment). Imbalance aside, this collection pulls together songs from seven albums, plus a couple of critical singles.

The five tracks from the first album have already been discussed. The best songs from divisive second album Field Day are “Whenever You’re On My Mind” and “Monday Morning Rock,” though drum-heavy “Our Town” is perfectly fine and while the drums are even more present on “For Her Love,” that is also a decent song. A little too bluesy is the problem with “Little Wild One (No. 5)” and the somewhat pandering “Blues Is King” is a bit too earnest. Weepy “A Vague Memory” sounds like a lost Smithereens ballad. “Calling Out For Love (At Crying Time)” is a near-classic. “Somebody Crying” is a strong track, and dark and desperate “You Should’ve Been There” is as quality a song as Crenshaw ever wrote. He also romps through the fun, nicely arranged (harmonica, keyboard-as-xylophone, harmonies) “Better Back Off.” Deep cut “What Do You Dream Of?” is enjoyable.

But even more important than most of the album tracks is debut single “Something’s Gonna Happen,” the most joyous, cheerily fatalistic ode to infidelity ever, with a vaguely Latin guitar sound and a pretty cool solo. Also included is B-side (!) “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time,” which finally sees a much deserved wider release with this album. The cover of Ben Vaughn’s clever “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)” is excellent. Crenshaw’s taste in covers is further burnished with his take on John Hiatt’s “Someplace Where Love Can’t Find Me,” with some fantastic slide work from Sonny Landreth.

The producers whose work is highlighted here include Don Dixon (REM, Smithereens, Connells); Steve Lillywhite (U2, Pogues, Morrissey, Psychedelic Furs); Ed Stasium (Ramones, Soul Asylum, Talking Heads); and Mitch Easter (Velvet Crush, Connells). Musicians featured are Fernando Saunders (Lou Reed); Kenny Aronoff; David Lindley (Leonard Cohen, the Church, Warren Zevon), Peter Case (the Nerves, the Plimsouls), Graham Maby (Joe Jackson), Faye Hunter (Let’s Active), Mitchell Froom, and the Bodeans.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Something’s Gonna Happen” is a tremendous pop single.

Release Date

2000

The Cover Art

Crenshaw really has terrible album covers. The colors are fun – that’s the best I can say about this.

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