Far from the collection of scraps and throw-aways its humble title would suggest, The 9 Volt Years: Battery Powered Home Demos & Curios (1979-198?) is instead a showcase for Marshall Crenshaw at his most engaging and refreshing. Whereas some of his studio LPs have suffered from overproduction, the bare-bones ambience of these 15 cuts -- home recordings, live performances, and the stray studio date -- allows his songs' melodic smarts and impeccable craftsmanship to truly shine. Familiar tracks like "Someday, Someway," "Rockin' Around in NYC," and "Vague Memory" are dramatically revitalized in these spartan settings, while lost gems like "Run Back to You," "Everyone's in Love with You," and the classic B-side "You're My Favorite Waste of Time" assume their rightful place alongside Crenshaw's best work. The end result is not only a must-have for fans, but also an ideal introduction to one of the best singer/songwriters around, captured here at his purest, loosest, and most honest.
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny