Fans of Marshall Crenshaw are bound to have a Field Day with Intervention Records’ recent vinyl reissue of the pop hero’s sophomore album. This delightful release in the label’s Artist-Approved Series has spruced up the original LP with a bonus 12-inch EP of additional content and new artwork, both of which have been given the thumbs-up by the artist.
Producer Steve Lillywhite harnessed the power of Crenshaw (guitar/vocals), his brother Robert (drums/vocals), and Chris Donato (bass/vocals) into something powerful and expansive on Field Day. The 1983 LP owed as much to the sixties as to the eighties, emphasizing catchy, sing-along guitar-led tunes from its opening track, the infectious ode “Whenever You’re on My Mind,” onward. (The song reached No. 23 on the Mainstream Rock chart, but unfortunately “bubbled under” the Hot 100.) With slick production techniques emphasizing keyboards and electronics coming into greater prominence throughout music, Crenshaw’s muscular, back-to-basics album was greeted with (critical if not commercial) acclaim as a throwback to vintage, pure pop-rock. Because of that nearly timeless quality -Lillywhite’s thick drum sound is straight out of its era – it still sounds vital and fresh today.
Lyrically, Crenshaw hews closely to classic pop tropes about love, but sets his words to tuneful melodic confections. It’s all well-crafted and youthfully vibrant. Lillywhite brings a heavier, more echo-laden sound than Crenshaw and co-producer Richard Gottehrer did on his debut LP without sacrificing the pure pop ingenuity of songs like “For Her Love,” with its miniature Wall of Sound, or the propulsive “One More Reason.” There’s a strain of melancholy in the evocative “Our Town” and “All I Know Right Now,” with the latter one of the few tracks on this set to approach ballad territory. Crenshaw approaches a dark, Brian Wilson-esque loveliness here, and evinces an aching sweetness on “Try.”
The swooning, fifties-channeling “What Time Is It” (a cover of a 1962 Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer tune from The Jive Five) captures happy anticipation, and there’s a prominent touch of whimsy on “One Day with You.” Crenshaw frequently references the act of listening to music itself on songs including the closing “Hold It” – one of the most “modern” cuts on the LP and also one of its most soaring.
Intervention has expanded the original Field Day with a second disc. The U.S. Remix EP was issued not in the U.S., but in the U.K. as a 12-inch, 45 RPM release. Intervention has happily given the EP its American premiere on its own slab of vinyl, once again playable at 45. For the EP, John Luongo was enlisted to remix “Our Town,” “For Her Love” (heard in both standard and extended mixes) and “Monday Morning Rock,” while the vinyl was rounded out with a live performance from Ripley’s Music Hall in Philadelphia of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s oldie-but-goodie “Little Sister.” Luongo, a pioneer of the extended disco mix, respected the original tracks recorded by Lillywhite but brought his own, somewhat lighter and leaner touch to the remixes. They make for a great “alternate view” on the album.
In an interview posted on Intervention’s website, Crenshaw notes that the remix EP “was the result of someone else’s panic attack, not mine. At first, I liked the idea of doing remixes. I did ultimately sign off (on the remixes), trying to be a good sport I guess. But my only input was to ask for ‘Little Sister’ to be included. I got a nice phone call from Doc Pomus about that. On the other hand, I got an angry phone call from Steve (Lillywhite) about the whole thing!” Crenshaw certainly made the right call with the energetic, faithful revival of “Little Sister.”
The significantly upgraded sound is, of course, the main attraction. Field Day has been newly remastered, 100% analog, by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio from the original master tapes and pressed onto 180-gram vinyl at RTI. Gray’s fine, subtle mastering allows the simple but powerful original textures of Field Day to shine boldly with an appropriately punchy yet always warm sound. The two LPs have been housed in a beautiful, sturdy Stoughton jacket, with complete lyrics printed in the gatefold. The records themselves are adorned with period Warner Bros. labels, and the new cover art was derived from the single release of “Whenever You’re on My Mind.” It was selected by the artist, who had never been comfortable with the album’s original cover photograph.
Intervention’s expanded vinyl release of Field Day is a potent shot of adrenaline from start to finish from an artist whose respect for pop tradition runs in his veins. What time is it? With stellar sound besting even the original vinyl release and subsequent CD issues, and top-notch presentation, the time is now to add Field Day to your collection.
Marshall Crenshaw, Field Day (Warner Bros. LP 23873-1, 1983 – reissued Intervention Records IR-015, 2017) (Amazon U.S.)
- Whenever You’re on My Mind
- Our Town
- One More Reason
- One Day with You
- For Her Love
- Monday Morning Rock
- All I Know Right Now
- What Time Is It?
- Hold It
Bonus Album: U.S. Remix (45 RPM EP) (Warner Bros. EP W0187T, 1984)
- Our Town
- For Her Love
- Monday Morning Rock
- Little Sister (Live)
- For Her Love (Extended Mix)