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Author Topic: Another Review from  (Read 4627 times)
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« on: August 10, 2010, 01:44:31 am »

John Mellencamp, “No Better Than This” (Rounder). 3 stars.
When you’ve had a career as illustrious as John Mellencamp, you’re allowed to indulge yourself in an unconventional project now and then.
That’s exactly what the singer/songwriter did on his 25th album, “No Better Than This,” which features 13 songs that Mellencamp wrote in 13 days. He then set out with producer T Bone Burnett and a 55-year-old mono Ampex tape recorder and one microphone to record the songs in three settings with some serious history: America’s first Black church, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga.; the studios where Sam Phillips recorded Howlin Wolf and Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tenn.; and lastly in room 404 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio where blues legend Robert Johnson recorded in 1936.
As Burnett writes in the liner notes, “All those ghosts. All those spirits. This is a haunted record.”

Well it is in that regard and it’s got some fine musical moments, notably the lyrically provocative album opener “Save Some Time to Dream,” the rockin’ rumble of a title song and the achingly sorrowful vintage country sound of “No One Cares About Me.”
While overall the sense of immediacy in the writing and the ultra-sparse sound are appealing in this age of studio gimmickry, that doesn’t necessarily mean this equates with Mellencamp’s finest work. There’s no changing the concept other than to wonder what some of these songs might have been like with a little more refinement, but that’s what the man wanted and that’s what he delivered. It is definitely one of Mellencamp’s most intriguing albums though. A lot of artists say they’re going to “get back to the basics,” but they’ll only push it so far. He actually did the work and pulled it off.

Tracks to download: “No One Cares About Me” “Save Some Time to Dream.”
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