As you might expect from a guy like Marshall Crenshaw – singer-songwriter, rock historian, actor, author, radio host and tasteful, erudite guitar stylist – his record collection is a pretty serious one, stretching back to the earliest days of rock 'n' roll.
"It is pretty big, but I like to think that it's reasonably under control," Crenshaw says. "There was a guy in my neighborhood who owned a bookstore, and he had books stacked up everywhere, even in the bathtub. My house isn’t like that. I try to make sure that things don’t run amuck."
While he has no plans to ditch his vinyl albums and CDs, Crenshaw, like millions of music fans, has transferred much of his collection onto his iPhone – which made the process of selecting 10 essential guitars albums a relatively easy undertaking. "It's like I have the entire history of recorded music right in my hand," he marvels. "I can experience all of it right now, and if I can have things that quickly – anywhere, anytime – that means it's all contemporary."
Crenshaw describes himself as a lover of "tones and textures," who favors guitarists who push the limits of sonic boundaries over more traditional technical virtuosos. "If it’s a mediocre record but the guitar playing is amazing, I probably wouldn't embrace it 100 percent," he says. "There are some records that are geared towards guitar players, but they focus on the dexterity. I need more than that – great songs, a cool vibe, exciting sounds. It can't just be... tricks."
He pauses, then adds, "I still feel like there's a lot more to be said with the guitar, too. It's never all done. If you can play, if you follow your own instincts and don't try to sound like somebody else, you're gonna do something different. There's always something exciting about that."
On the following pages, Crenshaw runs down his picks for 10 Essential Guitar Albums. The new Marshall Crenshaw EP, Driving & Dreaming, is available on Amazon and via Marshall's online store.