Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Marshall Crenshaw 5: Good Evening

Somehow, on his fifth album, Marshall Crenshaw seemed a little confused. Good Evening sounds a lot like him, but several of the songs are written by or with other people, and the overall sound—even for the late ‘80s—is a little confused, mixing country with contemporary touches, and not always well.
It’s always good to start with your single, and “You Should’ve Been There” has enough mystery, as well as some trademark hooks, to catch one’s ear. But with its speedy rhymes and strange details, “Valerie” is a Richard Thompson gem that just sounds odd coming out of Marshall’s mouth. “She Hates To Go Home” begins with truly awful keyboards, but manages to put together a catchy tune and a wholly out of place acoustic guitar solo. “Someplace Where Love Can’t Find Me” comes from the pen of John Hiatt, and while it’s no “Thing Called Love”, it’s worthy of further covers. A quirky tribute to a deejay, “Radio Girl” was written with the two main BoDeans, but still sounds like a demo.
“On The Run” is fairly ordinary, but increases in stature after one hears what comes next. “Live It Up” takes the funky Isley Brothers tune into quirky Alex Chilton territory, but that’s nothing compared to “Some Hearts”, from schlockmeister Diane Warren, complete with sawing fiddle. (Yes, that Diane Warren, and yes, that Carrie Underwood song.) The twang continues on “Whatever Way The Wind Blows”, which gets kinda generic, but he goes back to his more obvious roots on Bobby Fuller’s “Let Her Dance”, which still goes on longer than it should.
You want to like the guy, and Good Evening is hardly a bad album; it’s simply not very exciting. Even loaded with hired guns like Sonny Landreth, David Lindley, and James Burton, he can’t figure out what kind of album wants to make. It’s not country enough for country, but has too much of that to make it as a rock album. Shame on us for profiling, but that’s what happen when you establish a brand.

Marshall Crenshaw Good Evening (1989)—

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