"When we were young, we wondered, would it still make any sense for us to rock in our 40s? This vastly underrated record is evidence that not only can it be done, it should be done as often as possible. Marshall Crenshaw has always been a great romantic, and that tendency persists here in songs like "Fantastic Planet of Love" and the incredible "Don't Disappear Now," but we get more depth in songs like "Walking Around," concerning the impending end of a relationship, and "Better Back Off" with a lyric that could have been lifted from a marriage counselor's office. Plus, the thing rocks like crazy. The drummer is the brilliant Kenny Aronoff, who for years gave John Cougar Mellencamp more support than he deserved. Please don't neglect this buried treasure!"
Crenshaw deals with life
Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 02/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After his acrimonious split with Warner Brothers (by "Good Evening," he was being neutered by lackluster production choices and outside songwriters), Marshall Crenshaw was given an opportunity to play an album the way he wanted it by the fledgling Paradox label. (During its brief existence, Paradox was also home to the The Roches, among others.) The resulting CD was on a par with his debut, with a bit of mature wisdom tossed in for good measure. Surrounded by a great four piece band and a few guests (Peter Case of the Plimsouls, Jules Shear), the sound is unadorned and full of punch, and the songs are catchy and smart. "Fantastic Planet of Love" and "Don't Disappear Now" deserved slots on his best of, the bitter breakup of "Better Back Off" shows a wizened Crenshaw addressing an ex with the same cheerful melancholy he mustered up for early gems like "Mary-Anne" or "There She Goes Again.""Life's Too Short" may be a little harder to find, but if you miss that classic pop sound Crenshaw excelled at in the early stages of his career, this is worth your time and effort."
Rock and roll for adults.
Jim Toms | W. Frankfort, IL (USA) | 08/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No one has been better than Marshall Crenshaw at producing consistently good albums since his 1982 debut. This album from 1991 is no exception. Most of these songs have adult themes in terms of relationship. MC couldn't have found a better song to open the album with than "Better Back Off" with it's rockin' guitar. "Don't Disappear Now", which centers on the fallout of a too brief romance, is perhaps the best song on the album and is one of the best songs one could ever hear. The opening of "Face of Fashion" reminds me of an old Neil Young song, but I can't remember which one. Crenshaw uses a little piano on the solid "Stop Doing That" and "Starting Tomorrow" is a ballad that, in my opinion, shows real feeling. It's hard to get tired of that one. "Everything's the Truth" shows uncharacteristic angst (spite?) coming from Crenshaw (within the song, that is) and "Somewhere Down the Line" seems a fitting close to the album. Unfortunately, Crenshaw's best album, 1987's Mary Jean and 9 Others, is not available on CD and Good Evening from 1989 has become increasingly hard to find. Until you can get those, this, along with the self-titled album, is a perfect way to meet Marshall Crenshaw."
A Great Artist's Best Work
John Stodder | livin' just enough | 09/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been listening to Marshall Crenshaw since his first album. While I'm sure he'd disagree, I'm over his failure to find a mass audience. It used to baffle and frustrate me, but by now it's pretty clear that most pop music fans just want to part of a cool club. If the cool club happens to favor an artist who can write great songs and make great records, it's likely a coincidence. Crenshaw was cool for about six months in 1982, but got tagged with the power-pop label, so when the skinny ties when out of fashion, so did he. So it goes.
With many of Crenshaw's CDs having been reissued and/or available as downloads, his work won't be lost forever as I'd once feared. Perhaps he'll luck out and one of his songs will show up on a movie soundtrack that the cool club embraces, so a few more people will discover him and he'll get his much-deserved payday, like what happened with Nick Lowe and "What's So Funny..."
All that said, it still sticks in my craw that 1991's "Life's Too Short" is so hard to find and has gotten zero recognition for its magnificence. It's not just that Marshall Crenshaw is neglected; this album is neglected even by Marshall Crenshaw fans! It's his best record, period, exceeding even his dazzling debut. It's got a big, rockin' sound, with the great drummer Kenny Aronoff pounding away on every track and Crenshaw playing in his best imitation of an arena rocker. Two of its songs, "Better Back Off" and "Fantastic Planet of Love" are anthologized, but they could easily be joined by "Don't Disappear Now," "Stop Doing That," the sublime "Walkin' Around," "Starting Tomorrow," and "Somewhere Down the Line." There is not a weak cut here.
Lyrically, this album was a breakthrough. Fans of the wonderful "Miracle of Science" with its probing look at relationships will find even more to chew on here. He's got a gift for capturing moments of romantic crisis vividly and with attention to nuance, but with an offhand wit. As terrific as his lyrics are, they never impose themselves in a way that slows down the songs' musical momentum. While not every song is a rocker per se -- a few of the songs are heartbreakingly sad tunes, reflective of the lyrics -- the songs are all performed with verve and commitment. The sound throughout is high-quality studio rock -- the last time Crenshaw made a record with a non-indie budget, and he made good use of it.
While I don't know the story, really, from what Crenshaw says about this album on his "This Is Easy" compilation suggests that, once again, the business side of the recording industry was what damaged this record's chances. Perhaps it hasn't been reissued as a result of the same dysfunction. Hopefully, it gets sorted out someday so that more fans will find this masterpiece."
Why isn't this guy more popular?
David A. Mccay | LA (Lower Arkansas) | 03/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Marshall Crenshaw has been impressing me for 26 years now. I cannot for the life of me understand why he has never received the accolades he so richly deserves. He's a fine songsmith, a consummate guitarist and a good singer to boot.This album is a fine example of his work and I'd recommend it to anyone, from veteran listeners of his music to the unbaptised. Give it a try--you won't be disappointed."