The Nightfly Has a Name… and it is Marshall Crenshaw – Radio Program review of Marshall Crenshaw’s The Bottomless Pit on WFUV – 3/23/13
I’ve been digging Marshall Crenshaw’s music since last summer, when I saw him and the Bottle Rockets perform at the City Winery’s outdoor concert series. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered his weekly radio program called The Bottomless Pit, which airs Saturdays at 10PM on WFUV (90.7 FM). During each hour-long broadcast, Mr. Crenshaw, sometimes with a theme, sometimes without, plays us tracks from his personal record collection and provides brief commentary throughout.
To remind us about MC’s story (he signs off his website posts with “MC,” I’m not just abbreviating to be cool here), he has been providing the world with some of the best pop/rock music ever written and recorded since 1982, with the release of his self-titled debut album (the album’s song “Someday, Someway” was a major hit twice, first with Robert Gordon’s cover in 1981). MC’s albums are the stuff that pop-rock music fans’ dreams are made of – the kind on which every song is over-the-top-great, from the aforementioned debut album, through 2009’s Jaggedland. They demonstrate kick-ass songwriting, seriously impressive guitar work and vocals, and an intense knowledge and respect for music history (my current favorite tunes are “Somebody Crying” or “Calling Out for Love” off of the 1987 release Mary Jean & 9 Others).
Saturday’s broadcast (3/23/13) focused on the City Winery’s November 2012 Jimi Hendrix 70th Birthday Celebration concert hosted by Living Colour, in which MC took part, along with other greats such as Earl Slick, Jimi Hazel of 24-7 Spyz and Tariq Trotter of the Roots, to name a few. During Saturday’s hour, MC played a mix of Jimi’s original music (“Freedom” and “One Rainy Wish” to name a couple, and Kronos Quartet’s cover of “Foxy Lady,” which was GREAT) along with tracks of bands from the Bday concert (In Living Colour’s “Open Letter to a Landlord” and Earl Slick on David Bowie’s new “Dirty Boys” stole it, for my money). MC talked briefly about having a blast at the November gig, and offered up some anecdotes when called for, i.e. Earl Slick didn’t use a pedal board at the show, just plugged his guitar into the amp; MC saw “In Living Colour” open for the Rolling Stones at Shea Stadium and loved them. During his broadcasts: he lets the recordings speak for themselves which is, I suppose, a basic requirement of any DJ-host – but most don’t have the quality discography that MC has – which he could totally flaunt if he wanted to, but doesn’t at all, ever. His verbal track intros have included “Take it away, fellas,” or my personal favorite, “…and it goes like this…”
It wasn’t just this week’s episode that was rocktastic – recent ones have focused on the work of Phil Spector, of Paul Weller and The Jam, and of guitarist Bill Frisell, as well as a two-parter on the Hammond B-3 Organ. It should be apparent at this point that Mr. Crenshaw’s musical taste is wide and varied, covering the span of many musical genres and eras (during a recurring show segment when MC puts his iPod on shuffle and lets it do its thing, we were treated to both Elvis Presley and Elliott Smith). Worth getting to a radio by 10pm on a Saturday night? You bet.
Tune into Marshall Crenshaw’s The Bottomless Pit on WFUV 90.7FM, Saturday nights at 10PM.