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Marshall Crenshaw – Field Day (Yep Roc Records)

16 July 2023

Released four decades ago, Marshall Crenshaw’s sophomore album felt like an odd career move at the time. The Detroit-bred rocker followed up his brilliant garage-pop debut by teaming with producer Steve Lillywhite, best known today for his epic work with U2. Hinting at dreams of mass appeal, Field Day shoehorned Crenshaw’s down-to-earth music into a big, stadium-friendly format, marked by clattering drums. Newly reissued with six bonus tracks, Field Day now feels more like an ambitious experiment than a misstep. Crenshaw’s winning vocals – he could pass for the young Elvis Costello’s cousin, minus the vitriol – retain their everyguy charm, and the original tunes, especially “Whenever You’re on My Mind,” remain classics of post-Beatles guitar rock, transcending the tame power-pop tropes of the day to underscore his inventive songcraft. Meanwhile, a trio of vibrant covers, from the Jive Five’s doo-wop gem “What Time Is It?,” to the eccentric rockabilly of Hank Mizell’s “Jungle Rock,” to Elvis Presley’s swaggering “Little Sister,” underscore the broad range of his influences. Field Day is not the place to start for Crenshaw beginners, but it’s well worth a spin.