Marshall Crenshaw – Downtown

This one’s brand spanking new. To me, that is. The album itself came out in 1985, and despite another change in production and direction, it didn’t do very much. If I even noticed that it came out at the time, I don’t remember it. That’s a shame, because it’s a solid album with a couple of songs that really stand out, like “Little Wild One (No. 5)” and “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee).”

I love this cover. Why did I never get it back then?

I’ve talked endlessly about how, way back in my college days, I had a partner in digging through the bins, my longtime roommate who loved searching through used record stores as much as I did. And I had another friend or two who enjoyed the search, too, and my wife-to-be was always down for a search. But after college, settling into married life, moving into the CD era, the simple and shared pleasure of digging through a used record store looking for that perfect bargain or missing link was just kinda lost. I had no one to do it with and, increasingly, nowhere to do it, as record stores went by the wayside. Fast forward from maybe 1989 to, say, 2011: on vacation in Burlington, Vermont, offspring and I go into a great used record store and come up with some finds that to this day blow my mind. I’d try to be suspenseful about it and wait these records’ turn, but at the rate I’m going it’ll be 2025 before get to I say that we found the incredible Plastic Bertrand record (“C’est Plane Pour Moi”) and “Play Electric Bass With The Ventures,” and I was once again hooked on the joy of buying old records. A great little shop in Troy, The Beat Shop on River Street, would fill my needs from time to time, and my kids became my partners in searching.

Then we moved to Phoenixville, where not only was there a record store right on the main drag (and a few others not far away), but we fell in with a crowd of enablers who are just as nuts about records as we are. These are the people who wait in line for Record Store Day. And one of them started organizing a record store crawl, an incredible event where we gather into a spin of vinylphiles* and descend on greater Philly record stores like a plague. I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE.

So, this record was found in one of those descents this very February. You younger people may not know this, but in olden times, people were able to leave the house and do things together, they could even just drive around together and spend hours hanging around in a bunch of dusty old record stores and not worry that by doing so they were going to kill anyone. True! Ask anyone old enough to remember.

*Vinylphiles may be collectively referred to as either a spin or a lacquer.

Downtown back cover
Downtown back cover — perfect 1985 minimalism and creative typography.

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