Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 30)

I feel like I have had two separate lives following Marshall Crenshaw. I discovered him in 1983 with the video for "Whenever You're on My Mind." To this day, it is still my favorite song by him. I bought the sophomore album 'Field Day' with money from my paper route. I was so taken with the songs that I quickly collected a little more cash and bought the self-titled first album later that same week. Before long, I was picking up singles for the B-sides. In other words, I was a fan. Then a funny thing happened. I just stopped. Moved on. I continued to play those first two albums religiously, but I never bought another Crenshaw album for many years.

My malaise for music during much of the '90s has already been well documented on these pages, So, I won't get into all of that again, but one day in 1996 I went to one of those sterile book-music-coffee megastores popular at the time with a few bucks in my pocket. A Crenshaw album on the shelf of new releases caught my eye. I didn't see anything else that day that interested me. With little excitement, I surrendered and bought my first Crenshaw album in 13 years. The sweet sounds of 'Miracle of Science' took me right back to those albums from my youth. In fact, some of the songs were written back then, but that's a story for another day. Point is, it got me on a Crenshaw kick. I began acquiring all of the albums that I missed. There have been a few new releases and an EP subscription series along the way too. Although the music did morph through the years, I have enjoyed every record to varying degrees. I have also taken in many of Crenshaw's live shows the past 20 years. In fact, he's right up there with Elvis Costello and Wilco as my most seen artists.

I root for Crenshaw because I think I would like him. He's the kind of guy I would want to talk about music with while nursing our beers. Crenshaw has an encyclopedic knowledge of many genres, and he has worked with many other artists I admire, such as Graham Maby, Mitch Easter, Don Dixon and his brother Robert, to name but a few. Like Costello, he has helped me discover music from days of yore I would never have found without him. For that, I'm forever grateful.

Today's picks are a little on the rare side... or at least a couple of them used to be before Crenshaw's first album got the deluxe treatment in 2000. From 1982, here is a promo 12" single of "Cynical Girl." Sorry, folks, that song is the same as the album version. The first B-side is a classic made famous by Buddy Holly and recorded by Crenshaw for a show on WPLR in Connecticut. Try to ignore the quintessential DJ voice. The other is simply a non-album track of the highest quality.

"Cynical Girl"
"Rave On"
"Somebody Like You"

Let's move ahead one year to the 'Field Day' era. The 'U.S. Remix' EP is a curious collection that only die-hard fans would probably have any interest in... and maybe not even then. Through the years, Crenshaw himself has expressed a dislike for it. The A-side contains three songs from 'Field Day' that were mixed and edited by John Luong. Although the '80s flourishes are not as blatant as many songs were treated when remixed during this period, it is quite a deviation from Steve Lillywhite's vision on the album. Some have been quite hard on ol' Steve for his production when compared to Crenshaw's debut. Personally, I think 'Field Day' is perfect. Side A of this EP ends with a live cover of "Little Sister" taken from Crenshaw's appearance on "The King Biscuit Flower Hour" circa Dec. 2, 1983. Side B is "For Her Love" with more '80s production and an additional 1:11 of playing time.

"Our Town"
"For Her Love"
"Monday Morning Rock"
"Little Sister" (Live)
"For Her Love" (Extended Mix)


JC said...

In all my years of writing and more relevantly, reading music blogs, this is the first time I can ever recall a piece on Marshall Crenshaw. I think its fair to say he's almost a complete unknown here in the UK other than for writing 'Favourite Waste of Time' which was a Top 3 hit for Glasgow singer Owen Paul in 1986.

Owen Paul's full name is Owen Paul McGhee and his older brother Brian was the original drummer with Simple Minds back in the late 70s/early 80s.

Rol said...

The only Marshall Crenshaw song I own is the song Someday Someway which I picked up (quite recently) on a Greatest Power Pop compilation. (I didn't know he wrote My Favourite Waste of Time either, so thanks to JC for filling that info in.) To be honest, I thought Someday was a one hit wonder until I read this post, but now I'm intrigued enough to go digging further. Thanks, Brian.

C said...

As JC says yes I think he's almost a complete unknown here in the UK, although the name is familiar, perhaps from my record shop days? not sure. Owen Paul's hit penned by him was one I certainly remember selling a few copies of, though!
Not really my cup of tea musically but I love what you say about rooting for him because you think you'd like him - hope he reads this some day and buys you a beer or three.
But I'm more of an 'Otis Lee Crenshaw' fan myself...!

FurryBootsCityBoy said...

I'm in the UK and my favourite Marshall Crenshaw song is "I'm Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)". I have a mate who's a huge fan of Mr Crenshaw.

Brian said...

Thanks for chiming in, everybody. The B-side You're My Favorite Waste of Time has paid the bills in the same way Edwyn Collins has his song, Nick Lowe has his... and so on. I have done a couple of posts on Crenshaw through the years, and I have always had the impression from our gang he isn't as known in the UK. His crowd here isn't huge by any means, but they are a very loyal bunch. Most of us who follow Crenshaw have one knock against him... only 10 albums in roughly 34 years. As I mentioned, Crenshaw really knows his stuff. He has a radio show called the Bottomless Pit on a little station out of the Bronx where he literally just spins records he brings in from his collection. Not unlike what many of you do in the blogging world. FurryBoots, your song choice is a favorite of mine as well. I considered a second post this week with a few of his best songs, and that one was going to be included. If anyone wants a little Crenshaw sampler to get you started, I would be happy to oblige. I believe I have everything. Just drop me an email.

Charity Chic said...

I'm with the rest of my country men and women
The name rings a bell but not familiar with his work
Looking forward to giving these a listen

drew said...

A new one on me too. Give us the sampler Brian.

Charity Chic said...

Or an ICA?

drew said...

Good idea CC

Brian said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to do it.

McPop said...

As I may have mentioned in other comments on this blog, I'm a long time fan of Marshall Crenshaw. Just saw him live for the first time this year and absolutely loved it! I have most of his albums on CD and/or vinyl. I would rank 'Miracle of Science' highly, in fact think I'll pull it out for a listen as it's been a while. Brian, thanks for drawing attention to an amazing and underrated artist. Matt

Brian said...

McPop, to my knowledge you're the biggest fan to visit these pages. I remember a nice exchange with you around the time the EP series was winding down. I haven't had a chance to see Crenshaw in a while. He sticks close to home these days on what he calls the NPR Senior Circuit of the Northeast. Love when he brings the Bottle Rockets with him, but he is very good on his own and likes to spin yarns in that setting. We need to educate our peers in the UK to this talent.

Brian said...

Make that the NPR singer-songwriter circuit. Man I hate typing on my little phone. I'm all thumbs.