Wednesday, August 18, 2010


With "No Better Than This" John Mellencamp deepens the rich, intimate simplicity of his last record, focusing on strong song craft.

Recorded in mono, the album is disarmingly warm and inviting, giving the songs room to breathe with lo-fi, unadorned arrangements. T-Bone Burnett once again takes up production duties.

This is not an album that will ship a million records, but it is ripe for an audience looking for hearty Americana.

As time marches on, Mellencamp has become something of a retrospective malcontent as his sixties creep up on him.

He still harbors the restless spirit of a much younger man, calling out for social justice and pondering life's big questions straightforwardly. He proves himself a first-rate poet as he magnifies the vicious circle - the "broken promises" - that keep the oppressed immobile in contemporary society.

Mellencamp waxes poetic on finding euphoria in life's most affirming moments in the upbeat title track and lead single, even though a bittersweet sense of urgency peaks out through the song's sunny surface.

Mellencamp remains thoroughly and remarkably engaging throughout, "No Better Than This." He writes story songs that immediately grab and speak to people of all walks of life- the essence of American music.


  1. Cougar's a LIB.

    If you're gonna buy his sh#t, buy it used, sez I. Otherwise he might take the money he got from you and donate it to the DNC.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  2. HE is a liberal, Stephen, but so is pretty much every musician other than Ted Nugent and Jimmie Vaughan.

    The album has an interesting sound-the entire album was recorded live 55 year-old Ampex tape recorder and just one vintage microphone.

    The album was recorded at three historically important locations:

    (1) Sun Studio in Memphis, TN (where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis all first recorded)

    (2) the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA (the oldest Black church in North America, dating to 1775)

    (3)in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, TX (which should interest you).

    If ya didn't guess already, room 414 was where Robert Johnson made his first recordings in 1936.

    So give him an "A" for recording and a "C" for politics (you can't give him an "F"-he's the same as the average musician, so isn't that a "C"?)

  3. Of course I knew what "C" was referring to. (However, I'll admit that I didn't know the hotel was still standing, and I'm pleasantly surprised that it is.)

    (Except Jimmie Vaughan's and Ted Nugent's... that is IF Ted Nugent makes "music" and if you feel you ought to buy it.)

    ~ D-FensDogg