by: Marshall Crenshaw

Marshall Crenshaw entered the studio to begin work on his third album, Downtown, but for the first time, he was without the familiar backing of Chris Donato on bass and brother Robert Crenshaw on drums (though he does appear on two tracks). Following the dense, sonic thunder of the commercially disappointing Field Day, this album employed the services of various studio pros, and returned him to the roomier, more traditional tone of his first effort. Along with co-producers T-Bone Burnett and Larry Hirsch (and Mitch Easter on one track), Crenshaw creates an old-fashioned rock & roll record with the inviting warmth of '60s pop and the swing and recklessness of the '50s. And though he doesn't do anything radically new or different here, the results are once again never less than fresh or stirring. Tracks like the irresistible "Little Wild One (No. 5)," the primal beat of "Yvonne," and "(We're Gonna) Shake Their Minds," with its syncopated guitar and drum interplay, are first-rate rockers, while Ben Vaughn's "I'm Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)" and Crenshaw's own "Like a Vague Memory" have the feel of classic '50s pop tunes. Though Downtown did little to reverse the downward slide of Marshall Crenshaw's market value, it does complete a brilliant triad of releases going back to his 1982 debut. ~ Brett Hartenbach

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