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Field Day – Marshall Crenshaw

Marshall Crenshaw Field Day

Field Day

(1983), 8/10
Crenshaw’s sophomore effort was recorded with producer of the moment Steve Lillywhite, also working with U2 at the time, and he’s often criticised for smothering Crenshaw in overproduction. Whether that’s the case or not – sometimes the fuller sound certainly works in the record’s favour – there’s a marked shift in Crenshaw’s writing. The songs on Field Day are generally less wide-eyed, innocent and 1950s’ derived than those on the debut, and it lacks that album’s effortless vitality. Of course, in hindsight this change was necessary for Crenshaw – there’s no way he could be taken seriously if he kept on making 1950s’ homages, and it’s clear that his song-craft has developed and this is a more complex set of songs. Crenshaw is again joined by the same rhythm section, although there’s little of a three piece feel about the arrangements here, and the record feels more like lush power-pop.

The record opens with its best song, the huge, hooky ‘Whenever You’re On My Mind’, where the gulp of melody at the start of each verse is intoxicating. There’s plenty of solid power-pop like ‘All I Know Right Now’ and the stacked vocals and ringing arpeggios of ‘One More Reason To Cry’. The full production really works for the closing ‘Hold It’, which practically drowns in a luscious wave of warm backing vocals and guitar arpeggios. Like the debut, the worst song is the sole cover, the stilted ‘What Time Is It?’, although Crenshaw’s crooning vocal in the verses is surprisingly effective.

Field Day is not as effortless and infectious as Crenshaw’s debut, but it’s a solid sophomore effort that deserved a far better fate than deposing Crenshaw from promising commercial force to cult favourite.

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