The trifecta from the mid 80’s – Uh-Huh, Scarecrow and Lonesome Jubilee – forever cemented the John Mellencamp legacy. His heartland rock was both ubiquitous on the radio and was integral in opening the opportunity for the of heartfelt, energetic electric guitar and slamming snare roots rockers, alt-country-ers and Americana rockers like Uncle Tupelo, Del Fuegos, Georgia Satellites, BoDeans and Bottle Rockets to appear. If that was the ex-John Cougar’s entire legacy, it would still all be good. Real good.
Just as there was lesser material and albums preceding those three, he pushed on with another 20 years of releases, almost all of them good, not great, and only teasing with echoes of the old sound.
With this as background, the new Rolling Stone magazine has a multi-page story in the December 19 edition, and their website reveals in an interview with Mellencamp that he wants to play 100 North American shows in 2014 and is getting ready with a new album. Mellencamp sounds fired-up in the interview, recounting the recent occasion of waking up at 4:30am with a need to write a song.
It will apparently be T Bone Burnett producing, as he has for the previous two Mellencamp efforts. Expect nuanced and subtle instead of crack, boom, bam. Me? I need a little more of John’s crack, boom, bam.
BONUS: Who was the guy on the iconic b/w cover shot of The Lonesome Jubilee at the bar? It was Woody Baker.
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VIDEO: Everything post-1987 was not necessarily below-average. There’s a lot of good music that just was not as anthemic and iconic as the previous records had been. It’s really hard for any artist to sustain a period of success like Mellencamp has done – both as a white-hot hitmaker for most of the 1980’s, and as a career songwriter/rocker. I’d bet the new album could be out sometime in the summer of 2014, and would love a guest shot from ex-guitarist Larry Crane, if anyone is asking.