Marshall Crenshaw’s Debut

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  • A killer copy of Marshall Crenshaw’s debut, earning seriously good Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides
  • Balanced, musical and full throughout – this pressing is a big step up from many of the other originals that we played
  • 5 Stars in Allmusic and a classic of “catchy, relatively unadorned guitar rock.”
  • “The album is an alternately rousing and heartbreaking cycle of infectious pop rockers (“Cynical Girl,” “Rockin’ Around in N.Y.C.,” “She Can’t Dance”) and ballads (“Mary Anne,” “Not for Me”) — none of them clocking in at more than 3:07.”

These songs may seem simple on the surface, but they are heartfelt and catchy, the essence of great popular music. If you like Buddy Holly (and who doesn’t like Buddy Holly?), or any of the people that have been influenced by him to make straight ahead rock and roll, you should find much to like here.

Marshall credits Rockpile and Squeeze as influences on this album. Since I like both those bands, especially Squeeze, this music is right up my alley.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on the man’s debut.

A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.

More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way the engineers wanted it to.

Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.

Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.

Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.

Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.

Mary Jean and Nine Others

My favorite Crenshaw album is Mary Jean and Nine Others (which didn’t even chart) but his first album on offer here would surely rank a close second. The problem with Mary Jean is that it was recorded in 1987, and by 1987 the sound of most popular records had fallen off a very steep cliff, with thin, hard mids; no real top end; not much bass and certainly nothing remotely resembling analog warmth or richness.

All of which conspires to make this the MC album to own, as it has many sonic qualities that his later albums lack.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

There She Goes Again 
Someday, Someway 
Girls 
I’ll Do Anything 
Rockin’ Around in N.Y.C. 
The Usual Thing

Side Two

She Can’t Dance 
Cynical Girl 
Mary Anne 
Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms) 
Not for Me 
Brand New Lover

AMG 5 Star Review

In retrospect, 1982 was a brief, exhilarating moment in between the fall of disco and the rise of MTV, when the eternal verities of real rock & roll broke through once again. The punk and new wave music of the late ’70s had given way to power-pop, a return to catchy, relatively unadorned guitar rock.

In that context, it was easy to see Marshall Crenshaw and his self-titled debut album as the Next Big Thing. Hailing from music-rich Detroit but based in new wave mecca New York City, Crenshaw looked like Buddy Holly by way of Elvis Costello, and sounded like that combination too. His short, simple songs had an obvious lineage, but Crenshaw further updated the sound and added a lightly sardonic tone à la Costello, giving it a smart-alecky New York edge.

Not only did critics love the result, but the immediate surface charms of the music seemed to bode for a quick trip to the top… Marshall Crenshaw remains a great album.

4 1/2 Stars in Rolling Stone

The album is an alternately rousing and heartbreaking cycle of infectious pop rockers (“Cynical Girl,” “Rockin’ Around in N.Y.C.,” “She Can’t Dance”) and ballads (“Mary Anne,” “Not for Me”) — none of them clocking in at more than 3:07.

Critics loved the album, and it sold well. Crenshaw’s single of “Someday, Someway” briefly hit the Top Forty, peaking at Number Thirty-six.

“At the time, everyone focused on the Fifties-rock influence on my songs,” says Crenshaw. “I was widely compared to Buddy Holly — which is a hell of a nice compliment. But to me the real influences on that record were bands like Rockpile and Squeeze. The first album is very much a product of its time. I wasn’t trying to make my pop masterpiece, I was just trying to do a good day’s work.”