What's in the Bag?

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Given the surprise-party vibe that's permeated his output over the years, it's appropriate that Marshall Crenshaw would plaster such a playfully obscure title on his latest release. The 11 tunes contained in the Bag are as wide-ranging a group as Crenshaw's ever assembled. "Will We Ever" and "A Few Thousand Days Ago" fall on the more conventional end of the spectrum -- not that that's a bad thing -- replete with the keening vocals and gently jumping rhythms that have crept into his tunes for two decades. He stretches out a little more, however, on the uncharacteristically heavy instrumental "Despite the Sun," which squeals with a psychedelic urgency that's both harsh ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Given the surprise-party vibe that's permeated his output over the years, it's appropriate that Marshall Crenshaw would plaster such a playfully obscure title on his latest release. The 11 tunes contained in the Bag are as wide-ranging a group as Crenshaw's ever assembled. "Will We Ever" and "A Few Thousand Days Ago" fall on the more conventional end of the spectrum -- not that that's a bad thing -- replete with the keening vocals and gently jumping rhythms that have crept into his tunes for two decades. He stretches out a little more, however, on the uncharacteristically heavy instrumental "Despite the Sun," which squeals with a psychedelic urgency that's both harsh and refreshing. Crenshaw's always been prone to locate cover material in unusual places, and this time he sets his sights on the land o' funk, delivering radically rearranged, subtly sensual takes on Prince's "Take Me with U" and Bootsy Collins's "I'd Rather Be with You." Crenshaw's not quite as innocent as he used to be, but as What's in the Bag? proves, even on the cusp of his 50th birthday, he can still find new things to say -- and new ways to say the old ones.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
If you had to pick the single most dominant lyrical theme in the history of postwar pop music, it would probably be love, and on his first few albums Marshall Crenshaw wrote better songs about girls -- longing for them, and trying to win them over -- than anyone of his generation. Two decades on from his instant classic debut, Crenshaw still has plenty to say about love, but 2003's What's in the Bag? finds an older and more world-weary Crenshaw singing about men and women, not boys and girls, and contemplating a world where relationships are often hard work without the promise of a happy ending. What's in the Bag? begins with "Will We Ever?," in which Crenshaw takes the voice of a man on the road late at night, wondering when or if he'll ever see his wife again, and the melancholy beauty of the lyric is matched by Greg Leisz's steel guitar and the vibes of Bill Ware. It's a powerful and richly evocative performance, and it sets the stage for the rest of the set, in which Crenshaw's characters are haunted by the specters of failed romances, memories which are at once beautiful and heartbreaking, and the struggle to move on from life's disappointments. The mood is lightened on a pair of R&B covers, but the plaintive tone of "Take Me With You" and "I'd Rather Be With You" still feels consistent with the album's theme of men trying to make love work, under difficult circumstances. In short, if you're looking for a shot of pure pop heaven to bring you a smile, What's in the Bag? is not the album for you. However, anyone who admires the craft of Crenshaw's songwriting and his increasingly potent guitar work will want to hear this set -- this is beautiful, affecting, and emotionally powerful music, and makes it clear Crenshaw still has plenty of surprising things left to say after all these years.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/22/2003
  • Label: Razor & Tie
  • UPC: 793018286923
  • Catalog Number: 82869
  • Sales rank: 206,347

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Marshall Crenshaw Primary Artist, Guitar, Percussion, Drums, Bass Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Mellotron, finger cymbals, Soloist, Mando-Guitar, Vox Continental
Eric Ambel Bass Guitar, Dulcitone
Tom Teeley Guitar, Soloist
Bill Ware Vibes
Chris Cunningham Guitar, 6-string bass, Soloist
Greg Leisz Steel Guitar
Graham Maby Bass
Tony Scherr Standup Bass
Andy York Guitar, Bass Guitar, Hand Clapping, Soloist, Mando-Guitar
Diego Voglino Drums
Jason Crigler Slide Guitar
Dred Scott farfisa organ
Technical Credits
Marshall Crenshaw Producer
Prince Composer
Eric Ambel Producer
Bootsy Collins Composer
Greg Calbi Mastering
George Clinton Composer
Gary "Mudbone" Cooper Composer
Tim Hatfield Engineer
Blake Hines Cover Photo
Gene Holder Engineer
Greg Duffin Engineer
Ronnie Spencer Art Direction
Joe Clueless Engineer
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