Marshall Crenshaw brought two noteworthy new things to his May 8 City Winery show.
First was a band that pound-for-pound rivaled any other band anywhere: guitarist Andy York, who plays with everyone but is best known for his continuing gig with John Mellencamp; bassist Graham Maby, who’s likewise played with everyone and remains best known for his time with Joe Jackson; and drummer Rich Pagano of the Fab Faux and mastermind of the recent B.B. King supershows with Johnny Rivers and Lulu.
“I’ve been trying to get this ensemble together and lucked out this time, with everybody being available for once!” says Crenshaw.
“Andy and Graham are what you call ‘over-preparers’—and super-supportive of me,” he continues. “The last time I played City Winery I called Graham my musical director, because during the show he would tell the guitarist how the songs go.”
Crenshaw’s novel support group, then, is “like a real band,” he says.
The second new thing Crenshaw brought to the City Winery table was new merchandise, particularly the second in a series of three-song vinyl/digital EPs that he’s conceived as a means of extending his recording career while affirming his love for the still viable vinyl format.
“I’ve been making records for eons and eons and eons,” he says, “and this is a fresh way of doing it.”
At City Winery, he and his dream band performed “Stranger And Stranger,” the A-side and titletrack of the new EP. He also sang the first EP I Don’t See You Laughing Now’s A-side/titletrack.
“Now that I have two of them out, it looks like a real thing, with continuity,” says Crenshaw. “And they’re really high quality. I guess I got it in my mind to do something to satisfy my lifelong fetish over vinyl records and came up with this template where I put a new original on the A-side, and a cover—or offbeat song choice—along with a remake of one of my older songs on the B-side: I just realized that I had a bunch of cool versions of older songs in the archives and thought this would be a nice way to get some of them out.”
Besides “Stranger And Stranger,” then, the new EP contains, on the B-side, a cover of The Carpenters’ “(They Long To Be) Close To You” and a remake of his own “Mary Anne,” which originally appeared on his 1982 Marshall Crenshaw album debut.
Crenshaw hopes to issue new EPs every four months, though the first two releases came out on successive Record Store Days. As for recording a new album, he declares of the EPs, “This is the album.”
“I don’t feel any sense of inspiration right now surrounding the idea of making another album,” he explains. “A CD in a plastic jewel box to me is not a beautiful object, but an unbeautiful object–compared to a nice-looking EP that’s more satisfying to me.”
As with the purchase of any vinyl disc these days, buyers of Crenshaw vinyl EPs receive a free download version.
“I’m getting the stuff out to iTunes and all the usual digital platforms, but the emphasis for me, for sure, is on the vinyl records,” says Crenshaw. “We went to retail on Record Store Day, but the focus today is selling them at my Website and at gigs.”
Speaking of gigs, Crenshaw heads out at the end of the month with the Bottle Rockets.
“I’ve been playing with them the last couple years,” he says. “We did City Winery with them, and that was a gas.”
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