Saturday, May 27, 2017

Re-Up: Marshall Crenshaw - U.S. Remix (1984)

Note: I've discontinued this blog as a regular thing, but will occasionally do updates or post something I think is really special. This is one such occasion.

This mini-essay/vinyl rip of Marshall Crenshaw's "U.S. Remix" was one of my first blog posts. It must have been pretty popular because the link stayed "live" after all these years. Unfortunately, I was unhappy with the sound of the rip, which I did back in 2015 before I'd really perfected the craft, so to speak. I was pretty good at getting clean rips with good sound quality, but in this case, the volume needed to be a tad bit louder. Listening to it recently, I felt it didn't "pop" when I played it in the car. So here it is again, with a bit more presence.

What follows is my original blog entry in all its weird eccentricity. What was I thinking?


"Where there is no religion, people create their own sins."

I coined this phrase. Remember it. It'll come in handy in lots of areas. But for now, we'll apply it to the history behind the release of U.S. rocker Marshall Crenshaw's long out-of-print 1984 12" EP "U.S. Remix."

How so, you ask?

Here is how. When Crenshaw first broke in 1982, new wave-oriented critics all fell into line praising him for the exact things you'd expect. His music was "stripped down," "to the point," "unpretentious," "a welcome antidote to bloated corporate rock," blah blah blah. Actually, all that was true.

But Crenshaw stepped away from that formula on his second album Field Day, which boasted a reverb-heavy, larger-than-life sound, mostly thanks to producer Steve Lillywhite. The reviews were not kind. Marshall, it seemed, had committed the "sin" of breaking away from the post-punk/new wave orthodoxy, Even worse, he conjured the blasphemous sounds of psychedelia (OMG! OMFG!!). Had this been Catholicism instead of criticism, the equivalent would be been him bringing a Hustler magazine into the bishop's office.

Thumbing through the reviews, you could visualize Baby Boomer rock scribes taking up pitchforks and screaming "Get him! Get him!!" as poor Marshall scurried away. That could never have happened, of course, because everyone knows the average weight of rock critics is somewhere upwards of 400 lbs. But I digress.

Anyway, chastened and shamed, Crenshaw was made to do "penance" by slinking back to the drawing board and reworking some of the tunes so they'd be (you guessed it) "stripped down." This EP was the result of that.

It's out of print and pretty much forgotten these days. It wasn't even properly cited on Wikipedia until I corrected the entry. And it's never come out on CD.

But in its time, college rock radio actually played songs from it as much if not more than they did songs from Field Day. Knowing this, I went and did a super-clean rip on my old vinyl copy.  Now everyone can hear the same thing we all did back in the '80s, as we sat 'round in our argyle vests checkin' out the college babes and lookin' to get lucky. think that might be considered sexist in these politically uptight times? What was that saying? Oh, right: "Where there is no religion, people invent their own sins." 

Related posts:
Andy Adams & Egg Cream - Egg Cream (1977)
The Attractions - Mad About the Wrong Boy (1980) 
Various Artists - Sharp Cuts (1980)
Color Me Gone - Color Me Gone (1984)
Tommy Keene - Places That Are Gone (1984)
Marti Jones: Unsophisticated Time (1985)

Track list:
1. Our Town
2. For Her Love
3. Monday Morning Rock
4. Little Sister (Live)
5. For Her Love (Extended Mix)