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John Mellencamp – Dance Naked

Didn’t get a post up this morning – instead, I spent ages trying to get BBM working on my phone, and it was a real hassle because apparently someone else out there is using my email address for their account, or something. But then I did get it working! And then I found out it ain’t gonna work for me because I don’t have a data plan and it’d ding me when I wasn’t on WiFi. So after all that hassle of even getting it working, two seconds of research beforehand would have shown me it wasn’t gonna be something I could use anyway. Ach. First world problems.

Anyway, I’m sure Johnny Mellencamp wouldn’t care about such technological wranglings. He’s too busy dancing naked.

Haha there’s a mental image for ya. You’re welcome.

I’ve always thought this is a solid Mellencamp album, and hearing it again for this posting, I still agree with my past self. Johnny M in 1994 was still highly listenable. All of the elements that make a great record of his are here – those deceptively simple arrangements, the story-telling, the feel in the songs. It’s all here.

I’ve gotta give a big shout-out to one of my heroes, Kenny Aronoff, for his typically great, tight drumming here. And, in fact, the whole record is tight, so kudos to all!

The big single, of course, is his cover of Van Morrison’s Wild Night, with Me’Shell Ndegéocello on bass. [I totally posted this up right after my Van Morrison review yesterday because I am clever like that]. It’s a great version, I really like it. She also played bass and sang backing vocals on The Big Jack. Anyway, fun stuff.

A highlight for listening to this, for me, was being in the car with my daughter (she’s 3) and her singing along happily to the “spin around and round and round” part of the chorus in the title track. She loved it.

The liner notes told me they recorded and mixed this entire album in 14 days. That tells me that this group of consumate professionals showed up to WORK and totally got it done, and done very very well, with no bullshit. I love that.

Two thumbs up.

John Mellencamp – The Best That I Could Do 1978-1988

I don’t envy the person who was given the job of trying to compile a 1CD Greatest Hits disc of John Mellencamp’s career. In 1997. The Dude had been at it so long by then, and had so many awesome songs, I’m thinking a boxed set would have been the only reasonable response (short of telling people just to go buy the core albums).

Still, here is this compilation, and it’s a whopper. Walking into this, of course, you know pretty much what it’s gonna sound like – and that’s a good thing. The first two tracks were familiar to me, but they’re not the monster tracks that make up the meat of this disc. The last track was previously unreleased and (thanks, Wiki!) Graham Nash appears on the track, uncredited.

For the person who just wants a taste of Mellencamp’s prime years (ouch, has he ever left his prime? One might argue he hasn’t), this disc will give you all your radio favourites. But there were many other tunes that were left off. I’m sure you can name a bunch off the top of your head. Maybe should’ve at least made this a 2CD?

Anyway, here’s the track list, so you can be startled that you know more Mellencamp songs than you maybe thought you did:

I Need A Lover * Ain’t Even Done With The Night * Hurts So Good * Jack And Diane * Crumblin’ Down * Pink Houses * Authority Song * Lonely Ol’ Night * Small Town * R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A. * Paper In Fire * Cherry Bomb * Check It Out * Without Expression

See? This was a sweet listen. Go on and get you some.

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