Rolling Stone - 6/12/03, p.883 stars out of 5
- "...Mellencamp injects real grit into his readings of [these] old blues and string-band tunes..."
Entertainment Weekly - 6/6/03, p.78
"...Mellencamp's hellhound yowl leaves his old pop work in the dust..." - Rating: B+
This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files.
Personnel: John Mellancamp (vocals, guitar); Mike Wanchie (acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin); Andy York (acoustic guitar, National guitar, bass); Michael Clark (pedal steel); Miriam Sturm (violin, viola); Michael Ramos (accordion, Hammond B-3 organ, field organ); T. Blade (kazoo); Toby Myers (upright bass); Dane Clark (drums, percussion); Pat Peterson (tambourine, background vocals); Courtney Kaiser (washboard, background vocals); Janas Heyt (background vocals).
Recorded at Belmont Mall, Nashville, Indiana in February 2003.
A blues album? From John Mellencamp? Well, seeing as how this would-be renaissance man has tried his hand at acting, directing, and painting (all with surprising success) in addition to record production, singing, and songwriting, it should be no great surprise that he's taking a shot at being a blues singer. If David Johansen can reinvent himself yet again as an interpreter of the Harry Smith anthology, why can't the ol' Cougar take a crack at it?
Fortunately, Mellencamp's experience in the Americana mode (see SCARECROW and LONESOME JUBILEE, for instance) gives him a headstart. Wisely, he doesn't try to imitate Robert Johnson or Son House. Instead he approaches their material with his own style, incorporating folk and rock in equal measure with the traditional Delta blues. He mixes things up a bit by taking a rather Tom Waits-like approach to the Hoagy Carmichael classic "Baltimore Oriole" and getting a bit more contemporary with a Lucinda Williams song ("Lafayette"), but the feel remains earthy and agreeably unpretentious throughout TROUBLE NO MORE.