Crenshaw, Marshall – S/T – Used LP
VG/VG. Detroit powerpop. debut 1982.
Tim Sendra: Marshall Crenshaw's 1982 self-titled debut record is a joyous listen that's poised in a perfect spot between power pop and new wave and full of instantly memorable, incredibly likable songs. There's an innocence that bursts out of the grooves and fills the listener with the kind of good feeling that lasts long after the record stops rotating. There wasn't a lot of music as immediate and unabashedly simple on the airwaves in 1982, and definitely not a lot of artists who looked to Buddy Holly and the early Beatles for inspiration. Marshall and his band (brother Robert on bass and Chris Donato on drums) team with producer Richard Gottehrer to craft a sound that's streamlined and punchy, each instrument holding its own in the stripped-down mix with Crenshaw's vocals on top. The end result lacks the gloss of new wave, the power of power pop, and the scruffiness of punk. It does capture the energy, vitality, and otherness the best of those genres have when done right, and Crenshaw definitely does everything right here. Whether rollicking up on storm on bouncy tunes like "Rockin' Around in N.Y.C." or "She Can't Dance," being totally lovelorn in full Buddy Holly-style on "Someday, Someway," sneaking in a little bit of Motown soul on "Not for Me," or delivering gentle pop thrills both melancholy ("There She Goes Again") and peppy ("Brand New Lover"), there's not a moment that doesn't sound like the result of years of studying what makes for perfect pop. He nails rockabilly on "The Usual Thing," drops in a lovely cover of Arthur Alexander's "Soldier of Love," contributes a thoroughly modern rock love song with "I'll Do Anything," and conjures up a fictional meeting between the Byrds and the Archies on the timeless classic single "Cynical Girl." There weren't too many albums that were this crisp, understated, and pure in 1982. There weren't many before or after either. It's a brilliant meeting of songs, production, and performances that typifies pop music at its absolute best. The melodies are as bright as the sun on a winter day, Crenshaw sings with an unadulterated honesty that's endlessly endearing, and the entire record feels like it was made to spread happiness to anyone lucky enough to hear it. Marshall Crenshaw is a true pop gem that outsparkled the competition upon its release and seems destined to do so until people forget the beauty of a bouncy hook or a sweetly sung melody