Marshall Crenshaw has marched to the beat of his own drum (metaphorically speaking!) since making a splash with his self-titled 1982 major label debut. Though he hasn’t exactly been away, the power pop hero has returned this week with the official release of I Don’t See You Laughing Now, a new 3-track vinyl EP that also happens to mark Crenshaw’s launch of a new music subscription series. With shifts in the music landscape occurring on what seems like a day-to-day basis, Crenshaw’s new model just might be worthy of your attention.
I Don’t See You Laughing Now is the first of six scheduled 10-inch 45 RPM vinyl EPs which Crenshaw plans to release over a two-year period. Each EP contains one new composition, one cover version and one reinterpretation of a Crenshaw favorite. As an added extra, a download card is also included with the purchase of each EP. The EP series was originally developed by the artist through Kickstarter, and the first EP was previewed at Record Store Day’s Black Friday event. Fans pledged over $33,000.00 to the Kickstarter campaign, exceeding the artist’s original goal. A subscription to the series is available now at Crenshaw’s website. $26.00 nets the purchaser the first year’s worth of EPs (three in all), with the second scheduled for release in April and the third in summer or fall.
What will you find on the new EP? Hit the jump for that, and more!
The new Crenshaw composition that kicks off the EP, “I Don’t See You Laughing Now” has enough melodic charm to keep you singing along. Lyrically, it’s in the time-worn tradition of musical venom: “I don’t see you laughing now/The fun and games have come to an end/Look around, you won’t find a friend/It must be hell to realize/That you fell for your own lies!” But the singer-songwriter’s wry turns of phrase keep it entertaining: “Now maybe you’ll learn, maybe you’ll remember/What got you fired from the human race!” The voice is droll, and huskier than in the past, almost appropriate for an ironic cabaret croon. But the song is as tuneful as you’d expect, the track awash with bright guitars and tambourine, punchy drums and well-placed harmonies. In other words, it’s a tasty, throwback pop nugget for 2013 and exactly what fans would hope for and expect. Per the credits, longtime Joe Jackson cohort Graham Maby supplies the “bass stylings” for the song, and Andy York provides the “ass-kicking guitar.” Marshall himself played the Stratocaster, drums and percussion (no adjectives necessary).
Jeff Lynne’s hauntingly beautiful “No Time,” was first aired on The Move’s final album, Message from the Country (1971). Crenshaw, on guitar, vibes, percussion and prominent toy piano (!), captures the essence of the evocative, dark ballad. Glen Burtnik’s guitar and vocals, Plink Giglio’s mellotron and PK Lavengood’s guitars all add to the lysergic atmosphere. Crenshaw and co. are faithful to Lynne’s original sonic blueprint for the song, but their hushed rendition adds to the song’s fragile loveliness. Crenshaw could have chosen from any number of more well-known Lynne tunes, but his choice of this early, oft-overlooked gem speaks volumes.
Finally, it’s time for Crenshaw to reinvent a song of his own. “There She Goes Again” was a highlight of his practically perfect 1982 Warner Bros. debut album, and in fact, that album’s very first track. It’s the final song on this brief but delectable EP, as performed live in 2012 with Mark Ortmann (drums), Keith Voegele (bass/vocals) and Brian Henneman (electric sitar) of the Bottle Rockets. Crenshaw brings a soulful, late-night intimacy as he strips it of its New Wave-esque gloss. A new dimension is brought to the venerable pop nugget with the singer’s older-but-not-necessarily-wiser vocal and Henneman’s presence on the electric sitar (a favorite instrument of legendary Philadelphia soul producer Thom Bell).
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Crenshaw’s new subscription service. Would you like to see more heritage/catalogue artists taking a chance on such a model? How might you see it applicable to reissues of great albums? And what part do you feel Kickstarter (or similar sites such as Pledge Music) could play in catalogue music to come? Sound off below – we’re all ears! For more information on I Don’t See You Laughing Now, just click below!
Marshall Crenshaw, I Don’t See You Laughing Now (Addie-Ville Records MC1, 2012) (Official Webstore / Amazon.com – EP Only)
- I Don’t See You Laughing Now
- No Time
- There She Goes Again