Marshall Crenshaw – #392: The EP Collection (review)

Marshall Crenshaw – #392: The EP Collection (Addie-ville Records) review

The best of his 2-year EP subscription series

In 2013, Marshall Crenshaw came up with the clever idea to abandon making records in favor of releasing shorter EP’s. He encouraged his fans to subscribe to a series of singles, each containing four songs, which were released over about a 2 year period. He recorded a total of six said sets and has decided to release the best of the run as #392: The EP Collection.

Of course, the irony here is that Crenshaw has indeed created an album all the while swearing off the medium – and it’s one of the finest of his long career. The disc is divided in half, with the first six tracks being the new songs that were written for each EP. The second half features the six cover tunes from them as well.

The mid-tempo, jangly “Grab the Next Train” is propelled by a gentle rhythm, while “Move Now” features some fine, Crenshaw-patented hooks, and “Red Wine” has an alcohol-induced moodiness. “Stranger and Stranger” is one of the finest ballads of Crenshaw’s career, while “I Don’t See You Laughing Now” is a biting commentary on evil guys finally getting their due.

The cover songs run the gamut from the Move (“No Time”), to Bobby Fuller (“Never to Be Forgotten”), to the surprising Carpenters’ cover “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” He also gives a nod to a pair of Sixties’ bands – the Easybeats (“Made My Bed Gonna Lie in It”) and Lovin’ Spoonful (“Didn’t Want to Have to Do It”).

Even if you were lucky enough to grab all six of Crenshaw’s EP’s, there’s still two bonus cuts for the completists – a live version of the Everly Brothers’ nugget “Man With Money” featuring the backing of the incomparable Bottle Rockets, and “Front Page News” – a Crenshaw demo with mysterious origins.

While none of these songs were written and recorded with the intent of putting an album together, everything fits surprisingly well. The result is a very strong album. Begging the question of why doesn’t Marshall Crenshaw use this as a blueprint for making albums in the future? -Tony Peters