One of those albums that you have to listen to four or five times to begin to appreciate, then gets better with each subsequent listen. I have to admit that the first time I heard this one, my initial thought was "Where's my freakin' power pop, Marshall?" and didn't think the album got cooking until track 3, a fantastic cover of Prince's Take Me With U. Now that I've spent some time with album, the first two songs are some of my favorites. It would seem that Marshall got older with the rest of us and his writing has matured - his songwriting has always been remarkable and filled with hooks, but what he's putting out now is different, more mellower. Crenshaw has never been one to follow typical chord progressions and thanks for that, plus he's not afraid to mix up the instrumentation: slide guitar, vibraphone, cello, Farfisa organ, and dulcitar all make appearances here. The way the vibes are used, they really fill up the sound of the band; you don't notice them at first and I don't think you're supposed to. Will this replace Crenshaw's earlier, more rockin' albums in my listening rotation? Absolutely not, but it's got a place in the rotation; I don't think it was meant to compete against his earlier output.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Tracks: As I mentioned above, I initially resisted this album, but now there's no way I could pick favorites and I certainly don't skip any of the 11 tracks here. In addition to the Prince cover, Crenshaw also covers Bootsy Collins' I'd Rather Be With You, which is the most unusual track on the disc. There's also a couple of enjoyable instrumentals here (Despite The Sun and AKA "A Big Heavy Hot Dog"). I've always enjoyed pop/rock instrumentals and always wondered why there weren't more of them. The album ends abruptly, midphrase, like the record needle picked up automatically. I like that.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, but all Crenshaw albums have the same effect on me: at some point today, I'll be singing one of these songs while going about my business at work. Which song and in what context TBD.
Previously revisited for the blog:
The Best of Marshall Crenshaw (2000)