John Mellencamp - Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits

John Mellencamp
Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits

(Island/UTV)

First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12

Written by John Metzger

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While John Mellencamp has yet to create an album that is flawless from start-to-finish, he has been exceptionally good at penning hit singles. Even on his most masterfully cohesive efforts, a few tunes have stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. In essence, heís precisely the type of artist for whom an extensive compilation makes perfect sense, but until 1997ís The Best that I Could Do, there wasnít one available. Unfortunately, that outing seemed to be prematurely issued and far too concise in scope. Nevertheless, its deficiencies have been corrected completely by the latest go-round: Words & Music: John Mellencampís Greatest Hits. In fact, with one disc devoted largely to socio-political anthems and the second emphasizing tales of love, loss, and regret, the 37-track retrospective ó which also adds a pair of new nuggets (Walk Tall and Thank You) to his formidable canon  ó proves to be the long-awaited collection that definitively highlights Mellencampís illustrious career. Indeed, from the Stones-ian swagger of Hurts So Good to the gently lilting Jackie Brown; from the bluegrass accoutrements that adorn Check It Out to the gospel-infused folk-rock of Pink Houses; and from the thought-provoking optimism of the infectious Peaceful World to the plight of the family farmer relayed with angry defiance on the brilliant Rain on the Scarecrow, everything one could want ó and every aspect of Mellencampís delightfully multi-faceted personality, for that matter ó is included on the set. Presented in a non-linear fashion, the songs beautifully illuminate the themes that forever have pervaded his work. Whether celebrating the working class heroes who have made this country strong, painting a romanticized portrait of its rural communities, or just telling honest tales of love, loss, and redemption, his vision has remained consistent. As a result, he quite effectively has captured the heart and soul of middle America. For a guy who never wanted to be a pop singer in the first place, thatís quite an accomplishment, and as Words & Music dutifully outlines, John Mellencamp has crafted a legacy of which he can be quite proud. starstarstarstar

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Of Further Interest...

John Hiatt - Beneath this Gruff Exterior

Billy Joel - The Stranger: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition

Bruce Springsteen - The Ghost of Tom Joad

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Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2004 The Music Box