Marshall Crenshaw: S/T (1982)

Marshall Crenshaw has been releasing such consistently great music for so many years that it's easy to take him for granted. But his 1982 self-titled debut holds up as one of the unsung classics of the new wave era. Nothing flashy here, just jangly power-pop crossed with classic Buddy Holly-tinged old-school rock & roll, hints of bluegrass-tinged Americana and early Elvis Costello, all relentlessly catchy. 

Three songs alone -- "Someday, Someway," "Cynical Girl," and "Mary Anne" -- alone make this something of a phenomenon, each as perfect a pop song as one could conjure. Personally, I could just play those three in constant rotation all day long and be content.  But this pithy slab of pop grandeur has other pleasures as well.  Opener "There She Goes Again" moves at a perky gallop, hooks aplenty, early 80s pre-college-radio-era pop but delightfully timeless; "The Usual Thing" is a Holly-inflected 50s-styled piece of rockabilly; and album closer "Not For Me" introduces a hint of baroque pop sophistication, like a great lost Squeeze track.  But, honestly, there's not a dud to be found, a rare power pop album that's all wheat, no chaff.

Crenshaw added a few stellar singles in the years ahead (most notably "Whenever You're On My Mind" and "My Favorite Waste Of Time," early versions of which appear on deluxe editions of the CD); and while few of his later albums could quite capture the brilliant majesty of the debut, there are winning tunes throughout, and any fan would be well-served by one of several greatest-hits compilations out there for a broader career overview.

Here's "Someday, Someway":
 Here's a live "Cynical Girl":
...and "Mary Anne" from the same show: