I always joke that Marshall Crenshaw is my namesake, but the truth is, he’s only slightly older than me and also: we’re not related and don’t even know each other. I did meet him once, in 1982, when his debut album, Marshall Crenshaw, was released. I was a 19 year old DJ at the college radio station, KCMU (University of Washington; it’s now KEXP), and he was one of the first “famous” people I ever met. Sharing the same first name was a big deal to me then. (Kinda still is…)
Crenshaw’s rootsy, power poppy debut album has now been reissued on CD by YepRoc, who issued a 2LP vinyl set on Record Store Day Black Friday 2022. Marshall Crenshaw is packed with hoppin’ and boppin’ “alternative rock” that harks back to early greats like Buddy Holly, yet updates the sound with more jingle, more jangle, and the tight production of ’60s legend, Richard Gottehrer. I instantly fell for that sound! You couldn’t deny the energy and bounce of “She Can’t Dance,” “There She Goes Again” or “Cynical Girl.” This many years later the subject matter is definitely dated – to someone my age it now seems silly to be singing about yer love for a gurl – but the melodies and the beat are still timeless. I’m a big fan of Marshall’s great cover of “Soldier of Love” (originally recorded in 1962 by Arthur Alexander and covered right around then by The Beatles on one of their BBC sessions [later appearing on multiple bootlegs and finally on The Beatles at the BBC, 1994]), here having more of a “girl group” vibe, as does MC’s own “Mary Anne,” still my top song on this long player.
Back to the B-sides (as in bonus tracks): The YepRoc CD – like the limited edition RSD vinyl – includes a number of bonus tracks, most of them different from the ones that graced Rhino’s version. I think their 2000 release has better extras, especially “Somebody Like You” and the Buddy Holly cover, “Rave On,” which for some reason aren’t included here. But there are some goodies here, including “Something’s Gonna Happen” and “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time” (both available on both versions). This new issue also includes a couple of alternate versions of songs from the album (“Brand New Lover” and “Mary Anne”) but they’re not exactly revelatory. I imagine Marshall wanted to shine a light on some other things this time around, but I’ll bet the bonus tracks from both versions would fit on one CD along with the album itself. Regardless, if you don’t have Marshall Crenshaw in your collection and you like jangly power pop, you couldn’t do much better than to pickup either the RSD 2LP or the new CD. Yep, Marshall rocks, all right. – Marsh(all) Gooch
4/5 (YepRoc YEP-3027X, 1982/2022)