KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – MARSHALL CRENSHAW “MARSHALL CRENSHAW”

Prior to releasing his eponymous debut album in 1982, Detroit native Marshall Crenshaw’s biggest claim to fame was playing John Lennon in the touring musical Beatlemania between 1978 & 1980. Two years later this collection of 11 original Crenshaw songs and 1 cover tune impressed critics & fans alike, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the U.S. Over the years I’ve seen it show up on countless lists of all-time best debut albums (including my own, obviously) and, even though his discography is filled with incredible music, a lot of people only seem to know this one. I suppose if you’re going to own one Crenshaw album this should be the one, but for me it was just the entry point into a decades-long love of his unique songwriting, heartfelt vocals and greatly underappreciated guitar playing (I’ve seen him in concert numerous times and he could play lead guitar for almost anyone…he’s that good). Although I only mentioned six of its songs in the Great Out Of The Gate series (see below), every moment of this record is pure melodic bliss.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 1:

My introduction to the music of Marshall Crenshaw came via a cover of his “Someday Someway” by rockabilly singer Robert Gordon, which was a minor radio hit in 1981. A year later I heard Crenshaw’s version on his debut album and was initially disappointed in the simple, sparse arrangement, but I quickly came around and realized that it was merely a different approach. The entire album is full of songs that sound simple due to the basic guitar-bass-drums trio set-up, clearly an homage to his similarly bespectacled hero Buddy Holly, but there’s a lot of diversity in the songwriting. You won’t find a weak track here, with plenty of highlights like “Rockin’ Around In N.Y.C.,” “Cynical Girl,” “There She Goes Again,” “Mary Anne” and the melancholy-yet-uplifting “Not For Me” (my personal favorite here). There are other Crenshaw albums I enjoy as much as this one, but for the uninitiated his debut is the perfect place to start.

 

 

I’m curious if my fellow Marshall Crenshaw fans rate this as his best or if, like me, you consider his entire catalog essential? I realize there might be some readers who weren’t previously familiar with him, so what do you think of the songs embedded above? Does it make you want to hear more?

15 comments on “Satur-debut – MARSHALL CRENSHAW “MARSHALL CRENSHAW”

  1. Aphoristical
    October 26, 2019

    I have the first three and a compilation- I did get a sense of diminishing returns, even though there are some very good later songs like ‘Blues Is King’ and ‘Starless Summer Sky’. It’s good he’s getting some airtime – he often gets overlooked.

    Like

    • I never sensed diminishing returns but I can understand feeling that way if the listener expected him to duplicate his debut. I love that he worked with a different producer on each album and explored various styles, sounds & textures. To my ears, everything through at least Life’s Too Short is essential Crenshaw.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        October 27, 2019

        I reviewed the first three on my site, but maybe I should go a couple of albums further sometime. He certainly deserves more attention. Hard to go past the first album though – almost everything sounds like a potential hit single (in the kind of world where Crenshaw has hit singles….).

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      • Ah,a world where Crenshaw has hit singles. Sounds l like a glorious place to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        October 28, 2019

        No idea why he wasn’t huge – guess he was a bit anachronistic. He had a Buddy Holly look going and no synths.

        Like

      • Those reasons could certainly explain Crenshaw’s lack of huge success. In a perfect world his songs would have been all that was necessary for superstardom.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim S.
    October 26, 2019

    I know Crenshaw’s Lennon connection and that album. I have “Someday” on a Spotify playlist. But I’m afraid he is otherwise a guy I lost track of over time.

    Like

    • Jim, I think you would find a whole lot to love in Crenshaw’s discography, and you would appreciate hus guitar playing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim S.
        October 28, 2019

        I listened to that album today. While I didn’t fall in love with it like you did, I did enjoy it quite a bit. I do enjoy a bit of power pop and that’s, I think, what this is. Reminded me less of the Beatles (plus or minus) and more of Squeeze, 10CC. Check out my “Pop, Glorious Pop,” post sometime.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s definitely power pop but with Crenshaw’s unique stamp on it. I think the Beatles were just one ingredient in his musical stew, so I agree that he has more in common with Beatles-inspired greats like Squeeze & 10cc. I will definitely check out your Pop, Glorious Pop post. Thanks for letting me know about it.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        October 28, 2019

        Sure. Your guy is there along with a couple others. I’ll do that one again someday for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill Van Orden
    October 27, 2019

    I actually found out about Crensh from hearing ROBERT GORDON’s version of SOMEDAY SOMEWAY which I really liked….Marshal Crenshaw is an artist that ARTISTS can appreciate, because he’s kinda the whole package. I wish that the mainstream would have taken more notice, because he was WORTH listening to for happy ears. I feel that MATTHEW SWEET has the same troubles as Crensh does in that he’s a VERY enjoyable entertainer for those ‘IN THE KNOW” ….but a truly undiscovered GEM for those who don’t surf the record bins as thoroughly as they should. (also, Marshal’s 9 VOLT single of SOMEDAY SOMEWAY is worth a listen to AS WELL)

    Like

    • Bill, it’s cool that we both were introduced to Crenshaw’s music via Robert Gordon’s cover of “Someday Someway.” I laugh at the fact that I didn’t love Crenshaw’s version when I first heard it a year later, since it’s the definitive one for me now. My music collection is filled with dozens…actually probably hundreds…of artists who would be much more successful in an alternate universe. Matthew Sweet is certainly one of them. As for Crenshaw’s 9 Volt recordings, I’m so glad they eventually showed up on CD about 20 years ago.

      Like

  4. Thom Hickey
    October 28, 2019

    Yes a stellar debut from a greatly under appreciated artist.

    Smarts and heart and pop fizz.

    Regards Thom

    Like

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