Miracle of Science
The Detroit born Marshall Crenshaw released his self-titled debut in 1982. That first album included the Top 40 hit “Someday, Someway”. Crenshaw followed with 1983’s “Field Day” which contained the single “Whenever You’re On My Mind”; and his 1985 album “Downtown” containing the hit “Little Wild One”. His music is rooted in classic rock especially the music of Buddy Holly to whom he has been compared. In fact, Crenshaw played Holly in the 1987 film “La Bamba”, about the life of Ritchie Valens starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
“Miracle of Science” is a re-issue, originally released in 1996, on the Razor and Tie Record Label. Although he started as a latter day Holly he established his own identity on this recording. Crenshaw’s songs have been covered by a diverse bunch of artists including Lou Ann Barton, Ronnie Spector, Robert Gordon, Kelly Willis, Freedy Johnston, the Gin Blossoms and Bette Midler.
This album, produced by Crenshaw, was recorded between 1994 and 1996 during several intimate sessions in Woodstock, N.Y. and Nashville, Tennessee. The twelve track original recording is expanded by the inclusion of three bonus tracks. The album includes catchy melodies, hooks, and harmonies as Crenshaw switches from a one-man band to a larger ensemble. Crenshaw opens with the original “What Do You Dream Of?” featuring him on guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion. Other originals include the “Theme From Flaregun” a surf or lounge rock instrumental styled as a television theme; “Only An Hour Ago”; “Laughter”; “Starless Summer Sky” and “There and Back Again”. Crenshaw is an able guitarist and an emotive vocalist.
On several covers Crenshaw utilizes a studio band including Bill Lloyd, acoustic guitar, 12-string and mandolin; Pat Buchanan, slide and lap steel; Brad Jones, bass; and Les James Lester, drums. They are featured on “Who Stole That Train” originally recorded by Ray Price in 1953; the Latin styled “A Wondrous Place” written by Bill Giant and recorded by Jimmy Jones’ in 1960; and “Twenty-Five Forty-One” written and recorded by Grant Hart in 1989.
My favorite track has to be “The In Crowd” written by Billy Page and recorded by both Dobie Gray and The Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1965. Crenshaw’s version is styled as a contemporary blues with Greg Leisz on dobro and the Uptown Horns including Crispin Cioe, saxophone; and Larry Etkin, trumpet. This song is perfect for blues radio.
There is a lot of music on this memorable album. I understand four more of Crenshaw’s albums, all recorded on the Razor & Tie label between 1994 and 2003, are scheduled for re-issue. It’s time to re-discover the music of Marshall Crenshaw.