Marshall Crenshaw – #392 The Next Train

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Marshall Crenshaw
#392 The Next Train
Red River/Appleville Records

Legendary Songwriter Goes Back to His Roots

I can remember as if it was yesterday the night Crenshaw appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test; perhaps it was the name (which seemed extremely exotic and very, very American) but I was hooked and rushed out that weekend and bought his self-titled debut LP. I remember playing it death for weeks.
His name cropped up several times over the years; but I don’t remember seeing any albums or CDs in shops as the years have rolled down. It appears my loss hasn’t effected Crenshaw’s bank balance as he’s released 12 further albums, won numerous awards and written scores of hit records over the last 30 years.
While still loving music; but less so the constant album/tour/album treadmill, Crenshaw decided to release a series of 10” Vinyl EP’s directly to his fan base between 2013 and earlier this year, and this CD is made up of 12 of those tracks and two ‘specials.’
Opening with the rather splendid Grab The Next Train, Marshall’s resplendent voice sounds exactly as I remembered all those years ago; and the song itself is easy listening in a Tom Petty stylee.
The whole album rambles along at a similar lo-key tempo; and even when he sings ’80mph and the Time Still Slides By’ on Driving and Dreaming; it sounds more like he’s on 55mph cruise control; but that’s not a problem as the restrained anger in the lyrics is far more important than volume and speed.
Mixing his own new songs with a handful of rarities and minor classics such as No Time; originally by The Move; but the original sounded nothing like this; even if he does include a pan-psychedelic Sgt. Pepper era backing.
The intro to Bacharach and David’s (They Long to Be) Close to You is note for note the same as every other version; but Crenshaw’s slightly droll enunciation takes the song in a much sadder direction than I’d have expected; and I loved it.
I’m not sure Bobby Fuller’s Never To Be Forgotten is the ‘classic’ that the Press Release believes it to be; but this version is pleasant enough without ever stretching the singer or the listener’s brain cells.
My favourite track here is the lesser known Lovin’ Spoonful song Didn’t Want To Have To Do It, which Crenshaw strips back and actually croons ala Jack Jones or even Harry Nilsson; and I could cheerfully have listened to a whole album in this particular vein.
Of the two ‘previously unreleased’ songs Man With No Money is a live version of the Everly Brothers hit, recorded alongside The Bottle Rockets a week after Phil Everly died. Everything about this particular three minutes sounds like it comes straight from their collective hearts.
The finale, Front Page News is a demo; and sounds perfectly comfortable when set against the rest of the tracks and goes to prove Marshall Crenshaw still has the magic in his songwriting pencil.

Released August 30th 2015

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