Friday, April 24, 2020

Marshall Crenshaw 8: Miracle Of Science

Having sprung for the mild teaser of a live set, Marshall Crenshaw’s new label went all out to make his new album something to remember. This being the days of non-vinyl, the jewel cases of Miracle Of Science were treated with a glitter-effect hologram, while the liner itself was presented origami-style with multiple creases and miniscule credits. Meanwhile, he made the most of his deal by eschewing big studios and recording most of the album himself.
Of course, packaging is moot if the album doesn’t stick, and this one does. Following an indexed soundbite from an obscure Sammy Petrillo/Duke Mitchell movie, “What Do You Dream Of?” hits the ear candy jackpot, and the album hardly lets up from there, from the haunting “Laughter” and “Only An Hour Ago” through “Seven Miles An Hour” and the extended quasi-surf instrumental “Theme From ‘Flaregun’”. Our favorite by far is “Starless Summer Sky”, which dates back to his pre-professional years.
The originals are mixed with covers with only the barest misstep, “The ‘In’ Crowd” sounding the most like an indulgent afternoon spent overdubbing. Research tells us that “Wondrous Place” was an old Billy Fury tune; “Who Stole That Train” is an old rockabilly number that also sounds just like him, just as Grant Hart’s “Twenty-Five Forty-One” fits like a glove.
After being unavailable for too long, Marshall made Miracle Of Science the first of a projected series of reissues on his own Shiny-Tone label. The packaging was more straightforward, but he did rejig the sequence somewhat and give a few songs a fresh mix. Besides adding two brand new obscure covers, “Seven Miles An Hour” becomes a bonus track itself, as he now chose to end the album proper with the song played backwards. Beyond that, the album is still a winner, and welcome back.

Marshall Crenshaw Miracle Of Science (1996)—
2020 Shiny-Cool reissue: same as 1996, plus 3 extra tracks

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