Marshall Crenshaw

Marshall Crenshaw

Rhino Records, 1982

REVIEW BY: George Agnos


Sometimes it's the simplest pleasures that are the best. Often, this is true of music and Marshall Crenshaw is one writer where this definitely applies. Rhino Records has recently re-released Crenshaw's first album (which originally came out in 1982) with the usual remastering and addition of bonus tracks.

There is absolutely nothing fancy about this album and that is part of its charm. This is simply a collection of short, catchy tunes that are played well. One of the ideas behind the new wave scene was that rock had lost its roots and it needed to get back to the straight and narrow. Crenshaw's back to basic approach fit this idea to a tee.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Because Crenshaw makes it all seem so easy, I can see where people can take him for granted. And that is the only reason I can think of that the songs off this album weren't all over the radio. In all fairness, the first single, which was the ultra-hooky "Someday, Someway", did crack the Top 40, but just barely.

But that song only scratches the surface. There's also the clever second single, "Cynical Girl", the bouncy "Rockin' Around In NYC", the light, the old school R&B feel of "Brand New Lover", and even an anthem in the song "Girls...". Crenshaw may tackle them all with ease, but if it was so easy to come up so many wonderful songs, more people would be doing it.

I know it wasn't the retro feel of Marshall Crenshaw that turned people off, or else how do you explain the success at that time of the Stray Cats? Then again, Crenshaw's retro feel here is a lot more subtle. There is definitely a Buddy Holly vibe throughout Marshall Crenshaw, but he has a way with a song that is uniquely his own. The one exception might be his faithful rendition of an old chestnut called "Soldier Of Love".

Country music could have made a hit out of "The Usual Thing", which was definitely a nod to the Everly Brothers in their glory. Oh yeah, but country music was going through one of its "slick" phases at the time this album came out.

Leave it to Rhino to add some great bonus tracks, which include the B Sides from this albums' two singles, songs that could have been potential hits in their own right. In fact, "You're My Favorite Waste Of Time" has been covered by quite a few artists, most notably Bette Midler.

There are quite a few live tracks included, and they are all gems.Buddy Holly's "Rave On" is an obvious choice, but its Crenshaw's soulful side on display in fantastic covers of "Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S)" and "Look At What I Almost Missed" that are the highlights.

The bottom line is if you love pop oriented rock, then either Marshall Crenshaw or his greatest hits package, This Is Easy: The Best Of Marshall Crenshaw, are absolutely essential. Crenshaw is just another example of the satisfaction of simple pleasures.

Rating: A

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© 2002 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rhino Records, and is used for informational purposes only.