[Review] Marshall Crenshaw: Good Evening (1989)

Crenshaw makes half a cover album with half of Joe Jackson’s original team, all of it in good taste.

Kronomyth 5.0: Good evening, Mr. Warren.

If you’d told me five years ago that Marshall Crenshaw would require the services of Diane Warren to write a hit song, I would have laughed. I’m not laughing now, but I’m not crying either. Good Evening is a good album, even if Crenshaw’s pen accounts for less than half of it. As he showed with Ben Vaughn’s “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee),” it’s not so much about where a song comes from as where Marshall takes it. A musicologist as well as a musician, Marshall Crenshaw knows where to find great material: Richard Thompson, John Hiatt, Bobby Fuller. Even a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Live It Up,” one of the few missteps on Good Evening, is an informed choice. Otherwise, this is Crenshaw doing what he does best: likeable love songs sung in his familiar twang and smartly played.

“Valerie” and “Someplace Where Love Can’t Find Me” are the obvious winners, “Let Her Dance” and “She Hates To Go Home” the honorable mentions. Warren’s “Some Hearts” is something of a low point, though Crenshaw gives it a more dignified reading than it deserves. All totaled, Good Evening is a more entertaining ride than Mary Jean, and with Crenshaw at the wheel, Joe Jackson producer David Kershenbaum in the pit crew and Graham Maby along for the ride, it doesn’t really matter who manufactured the chassis. I have no doubt that Marshall could make a very good cover album someday and imbue it with enough of his own personality that it would blend right in with his best work. Good Evening already has one foot in that direction, and critics have stood firm on the point that original or cover, it’s still Crenshaw.

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Original LP Version

A1. You Should’ve Been There (Marshall Crenshaw/Leroy Preston) (3:52)
A2. Valerie (Richard Thompson) (3:35)
A3. She Hates To Go Home (Marshall Crenshaw/Leroy Preston) (4:46)
A4. Someplace Where Love Can’t Find Me (John Hiatt) (4:01)
A5. Radio Girl (Marshall Crenshaw/Sam Llanas/Kurt Neumann) (4:04)
B1. On The Run (Marshall Crenshaw) (3:14)
B2. Live It Up (Isley Brothers/Christopher Jasper) (3:36)
B3. Some Hearts (Dianne Warren) (4:21)
B4. Whatever Way The Wind Blows (Marshall Crenshaw) (3:25)
B5. Let Her Dance (Bobby Fuller) (2:55)

The Players

Marshall Crenshaw (guitars, vocals, mandoguitar, 6-string bass, bass, shaker), Kenny Aronoff (drums, percussion, fire extinguisher, count-off), Sonny Landreth (slide guitar, weird experimental guitar), Graham Maby (bass), Bob Marlette (organ, drums, bass, keyboard) with BoDeans (backing vocals on A1), James Burton (lead guitar on B4), Steve Conn (piano, accordion), Robert Crenshaw (backing vocals on A1/A2), Denny Fongheiser (drums on B4), David Lindley (steel guitar, slide guitar, fiddle, mandolin), J.D. Maness (pedal-steel guitar on B4), Patti McCarron (backing vocals on B3), E. Pressley (bass on B4), Syd Straw (backing vocals on B3). Produced by David Kershenbaum and Paul McKenna; engineered by Paul McKenna, Kevin Smith, John Volaitis; mixed by Paul McKenna.

The Pictures

Art direction/design by Janet Levinson. Front cover photography by Dean Chamberlain. Back cover photography by Jeff Katz.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc on June 27, 1989 in the US (Warner Bros., 25908-1/4/2), the UK and Germany (Warner Bros., 925 908-1) and Canada (Warner Bros., 92 59081) with lyrics innersleeve.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on October 25, 2005 in the US (Wounded Bird, WOU-5908).

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