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Author: Subject: Anyone pick up Mellencamp's new one: "No Better Than This"?

Zen Peach





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  posted on 8/18/2010 at 10:14 AM
I saw a few review and most seem positive. Here's the AMG review:


Review by Thom Jurek

The first thing that grabs the listener about John Mellencamp's No Better Than This is its sound: mono recorded live to an Ampex 601 tape recorder circa 1955, with a single microphone without mixing or overdubs. It's warmth and presence are immediate and engulfing. Mellencamp and T-Bone Burnett cut the album while on tour supporting, Life Death Love and Freedom, Mellencamp's celebrated precursor. This album was cut in some very famous locales: First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA (the first African American Christian church in North America), Sun Studios in Memphis, and in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, TX, where Robert Johnson recorded "Stones in My Passway" in 1936. While Mellencamp's last album was celebrated for its wonderfully crafted songs, it nonetheless reflected Burnett's dictatorially heavy-handed production style. This set feels far more like the artist. The songs are rooted in country, rockabilly, folk, country-gospel, and even a rawer Midwestern rock that is Mellencamp's brand. The band is equal parts his standard road group and Burnett's studio crew, but the latter plays more of a supporting role than a guiding one here; this set, with its brilliantly pruned songwriting is Mellencamp at his focused best.

The album's opener, "Save Some Time to Dream," is from the older and wiser songwriter who gave us "We Are the People," "Jackie Brown," "Human Wheels," and a more skeletal part two to "Your Life Is Now." It's safe to say that these historic locales reflect the tunes somewhat especially the driving title track, "Coming Down the Road," and "Each Day of Sorrow" that come from, respectively, the rockabilly of Carl Perkins, early Elvis, and Johnny Burnette. "No One Cares About Me" is a pure Mellencamp lyric, but its sound is reminiscent of the Sun-era Johnny Cash. The spooky banjo of the minor-key blues that makes up "The West End" touches on the Johnson of "Hellhound on My Trail" and the folk-blues Bob Dylan utilized on "The Ballad of Hollis Brown." "A Graceful Fall" is electric hillbilly blues. "Love at First Sight," with Mellencamp accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, is among the finest love songs he's ever written. "Don't Forget About Me" is a country ballad that acts as its mirror image and resonates deeply. He may be looking back at some earlier styles of music that influenced him here, but the songs on No Better Than This feel invigorated, unfettered, and melodically and lyrically astute. He possesses an independent streak in abundance here; he is making music only for himself now, and, as a result, is in a league of his own. No Better Than This proves that good songs need very little to communicate instructive narratives and complex emotions, and that primitive recording methods are still sometimes the best ones. [The album is also available on vinyl.]

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:hpfpxzwdldje~T1


might be looking to pick this up, wondering if anyone has ...

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/18/2010 at 10:50 AM
Mellencamp was on Tavis Smiley's PBS show Monday evening and he played "Save Some Time To Dream." I enjoyed it and the interview. He gave some serious props to Willie Nelson regarding Farm Aide and also discussed making this latest album. Good stuff all around.
 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 8/18/2010 at 05:57 PM
really decent record, highly recommend

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/18/2010 at 06:33 PM
I will be picking this up tommorrow..
Listened to a few clips on Amazon the other night. Sounds like John hit a home run here.
Again

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 8/18/2010 at 09:35 PM
I listened to it on rhapsody, great album. Hope he comes to Dallas on the tour
 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2010 at 08:01 AM
I heard bits of another interview this morning on NPR. Pretty insightful information about the recording process. He talked about how refreshing it was to not have to do dozens of "takes" and that basically he and his band have gotten good enough at playing that they could never have made an album like this back in the 80's when he was much less skilled at playing. He mentioned the hit "Hurts So Good" and how he and the band did nearly a hundred takes on that tune before they got it right. And I got the impression he never wants to use digital technology ever again. Interesting stuff.
 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2010 at 08:12 AM
Yes, the NPR interview this morning was pretty cool! I'm very tempted to get this album...

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2010 at 08:13 AM
Meant to include this just a moment ago:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129275541

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2010 at 08:21 AM
that was pretty cool

thanks EZ

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2010 at 01:47 PM
Just picked it up..Only $10 at Best Buy

Only about halfway though, but this could be the best of his career, IMO.

Like what was mentioned above, it was recorded entirely in Mono, and in 3 "historic" locations.
I dunno if John conjured up some spirits or not, but he damn sure tried
The sound on this record is the best I have heard in a very long time. ( Kudos to T-Bone Burnett for that as well)
All the tunes so far are very well crafted, and his voice is as strong as ever. Guess giving up them damn cigarettes did wonders for him ..Assuming he still isn't.

In a nutshell.. worth EVERY penny folks!

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/23/2010 at 06:38 AM
Bought it last Friday and listnened to it most of the weekend. Very good stuff. I think after his last one we kinda got a taste of what was to come from after working with T Bone. I wonder if John let him take the rigns more on this one, it sounds like he did. I am very impressed and I am sure it will grow on me more.

I still would like to hear John just do an all acoustic album with T Bone with this style of music. I grew up and still live in Indiana, and being from here I guess you might be expected to be a Mellencamp fan. I really never was till about the 90's when he kinda shifted gears a little in his music. Whenever We Wanted is still probably one of my fav's of his. He does have some pretty solid ones after that. But this new one really stands out as far as being different and above the others, IMHO. It will be interesting to see what happens next , if he will continue with the T Bone formula or go in another direction.

Jakob Dylan also used T bone on his most recent and I like that one also.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/27/2010 at 06:01 PM
I was in Barnes & Noble today and checked to see what they're selling this for: $18.99!!! Even with my preferred customer card, that was too much for me today.

It seems like such an oxymoron to buy from iTunes and digitally download this carefully recorded/old-time feel album, though...but it's far cheaper than the $ I saw today. I don't have a turntable, either, darn it.

In response to T-Bone's production of Jakob Dylan's newest, I really like the songs and the playing, but the acoustic/upright bass is WAY too boomy and overpowering for my tastes. It hurts my head--literally. And I'm a bass player...go figure.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/27/2010 at 07:14 PM
Waiting for the Vinyl
(9/22)

 

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