Smart students of rock ‘n roll know you’re supposed to start the album with the lead single, and that’s why “Whenever You’re On My Mind” is such a great opener. There’s the opening riff, which is vocalized in the verses and along with the solo, and the classic chorus. “Our Town” and “One More Reason” gallop along, though the words get a little lost in Steve Lillywhite’s boomy production. (Then again, the engineer was Scott Litt, just a few years away from dealing with Michael Stipe’s mumbling for R.E.M.) “Try” doesn’t really sink in, but pay attention to the litany of impossible tasks he’ll undergo for “One Day With You”.
Remember how great the first side began? Side two does the same with “For Her Love”, with another infectious riff and a tasty lick that forms both the middle eight and the coda. “Monday Morning Rock” is a mildly salacious sentiment from such a clean-cut kid, someone we associate more with the lovelorn fella in “All I Know Right Now”. While it’s no “Soldier Of Love”, “What Time Is It?” revives a little-known early-‘60s doo-wop side via a nice baritone guitar. And somehow the processed drum echoes at the end of “Hold It” provide a nice conclusion.
One wonders if the artiste would strip some of the echo from Field Day given the chance today. (There is something of a precedent for that.) Luckily for him the songs are still pretty good, and at least he didn’t take a complete dive on his sophomore effort.
Marshall Crenshaw Field Day (1983)—3