Marshall Crenshaw

REVIEW: Marshall Crenshaw “#447″


Marshall Crenshaw – #447

My first intro to Marshall Crenshaw was his driving classic “Someday, Someway.” It captured a renewed sense of rockabilly with modern inflections & did it cleverly. Since then Crenshaw has written dozens of catchy originals (covered by many artists).

A version of this LP originally appeared in 1999 (his 8th album) & now the revised expanded reissue of 11-cuts (+ 2 bonus tracks) #447 (Drops Feb 4-Shiny Tone) is upon us. Crenshaw, unlike most composers, is skilled in the art of consistently writing catchy melodic hooks, with clever word sprinkles to create instantly memorable songs.

Why an artist such as this isn’t signed to a major label mystifies me. Must be the nature of the business. “He’s great, ignore him.” Tom Waits & John Prine aren’t on major labels either. Autonomy is gained. And probably why a similar artist as Crenshaw, Robert Johnson (no, not the old blues artist, a 70s rocker with a gift for melody & an excellent guitarist — once considered for The Rolling Stones, garnered 5-stars on his LP “Close Personal Friend,” & promptly vanished).

Marshall Crenshaw

For some, songs slip by in the daily cauldron of life. But there are interesting pieces here that may invigorate a rock n’ roll heart. The LP was produced by the staff at Biff Jerome Productions & recorded in Woodstock, Rhinebeck, New York City & Nashville, TN.

There’s an ambiance on some that artistically “dates” them purposely. It gives them an old-fashioned cherished early 60s tone. Guitars sparkle & possess old-school hi-fidelity depth. Marshall recreates eras from his songs. He should consider recording on all-analog equipment, (if he hasn’t already) & produce a sound as those early 60s Mercury Records studios did. If that equipment still exists. They did The David Carroll Orchestra’s “Let’s Dance,” LPs. Corny? Yes. But with cool stereo-hi-fi reproduction, separation. Bass, piano & horns boom & shine — the snare drum & acoustics tingle.

“Television Light,” is a familiar Crenshaw tune. Chris Carmichael (viola/violin/fiddle solos), Rachel Handman (violin), Valentina Evans (viola) with the jangle of Byrds-like acoustic guitars. “Glad Goodbye,” — more serious. Unfailingly melodious. “T.M.D.” is ear-candy & what’s interesting is that Marshall isn’t always taking his songwriting craftsmanship through varieties of rockabilly, & retro styles. He takes an old genre, applies Crenshaw polish, renders it with new relevance.

Two new songs: “Will of the Wind,” & “Santa Fe” are included. Musicians include Paul Shapiro (sax), Dave Hofstra (stand-up bass), Pat Buchanan (guitar solos/power steel), Brad Jones (stand-up bass/Chamberlain strings/electric piano/combo organ), Andy York (acoustic guitars/lead guitar), Bill Lloyd (mandolin/Tele-electric guitar), Greg Leisz (dobro/lap steel), Footch Fischetti (fiddle), David Sancious (electric piano), Mike Neer (steel guitar) & M.C. (drums/percussion/guitars/electric bass, mellotron & celeste).

“Ready Right Now” features Bill Lloyd’s (Foster & Lloyd) enlivened lead, this is a great performance. Things get varied as “Eydie’s Tune,” surprises as more lounge-lizard jazz. Well, Marshall isn’t stuck in any one gear musically.

Dig in. Snap your fingers.

Color pic: Al Pereira/WireImage/Getty Images. The 49-minute CD: available @ Amazon +

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