Plain Spoken John Mellencamp
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- 1Troubled Man04:14
- 2Sometimes There's God04:34
- 3The Isolation Of Mister05:35
- 4The Company Of Cowards03:52
- 5Tears In Vain03:53
- 6The Brass Ring05:37
- 7Freedom Of Speech03:53
- 8Blue Charlotte04:40
- 9The Courtesy Of Kings03:33
- 10Lawless Times03:52
Info for Plain Spoken
Plain Spoken includes ten stunningly elegant and soul-searching Americana gems from 'The Voice of the Heartland', John Mellencamp, while celebrating his skill not just as a song craftsman but as a world-class entertainer.
Plain Spoken commences on the acoustic guitar hum of 'Troubled Man' as Mellencamp carries a pensive and poetic chorus. Organ and harmonica punctuate 'The Isolation of Mister' with a sense of vibrancy, while 'Tears In Vain' features a twanging guitar solo and the singer's unmistakable delivery. The haunting and heartbreaking beauty of 'Blue Charlotte' lingers with emotion. There is 'The Courtesy of Kings', which is driven by banjo and Mellencamp's poignant lyrics and the bluesy swing of the album's conclusion 'Lawless Times' where his cinematic lyrics bristle with energy matched only by the six-string screech. Plain Spoken is set to be hailed as an unparalleled new chapter in Mellencamp's distinctive songbook.
Plain Spoken is the first album from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer since 2010's critically acclaimed, No Better Than This-which landed in the Top 10 of Billboard's Top 200 during release week and garnered the honor of becoming one of Rolling Stone's 'Best Albums of 2010'. Grammy winning musician John Mellencamp has touched the heart and souls of music listeners and influenced American Culture with enduring songs, he is also one of the most successful live concert performers in the world. A man with a conscience, he used his visibility and influence to advocate an issue that hit close to home and became one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an organization that began in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farm. The Farm Aid concerts have raised over $45 million to promote a resilient family farm system of agriculture.
'If ever there were a prototypical John Mellencamp title, it's Plain Spoken. Mellencamp has long striven for direct, forthright communication, so the title suits his overall aesthetic as well as this album in specific. His first album underneath a 'lifetime' recording contract for Republic Records -- a deal that effectively amounts to his return to the Universal group -- this is also his first record since 2007's Freedom's Road not to be produced by T-Bone Burnett, but that titan of Americana has certainly left an imprint on the singer/songwriter. Like many Burnett productions, this trades in hushed authentic acoustica, but where Burnett often indulges aural impressionism -- or, in the case of 2010's No Better Than This, such quasi-stunts as mono mixes -- Mellencamp opts to revert to a streamlined version of the wide-ranging Heartland Rock of The Lonesome Jubilee. There are echoes of this 1987 masterwork on Plain Spoken but only in the sense that's where Mellencamp first delved into acoustic folk and country. Twenty seven years later, he's an older man in every sense: his voice sounds ravaged by cigarettes, he doesn't bother rocking at all (although he does play a bit of blues on 'Lawless Times,' a subdued shuffle that offers a welcome tonal tonic at the close), and he feels battered down by the passage of time. He's mourning the end of his marriage, he's pondering mortality, he's sour at the politicians and the bankers, and he's not so sure he has much to offer anybody else, either. If his bitterness is unavoidable in the lyrics or in his voice, his music softens his bite, turning these tunes into melancholy laments instead of invective, so there winds up being a bit of a needed cushion to Mellencamp's straight talk on Plain Spoken.' (Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG)
John Mellencamp, guitars, vocals
Mike Wanchic, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Andy York, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
T-Bone Burnett, electric guitar
Miriam Sturm, violin
Troye Kinnett, keyboards
Dane Clark, drums
Recorded in 2014 at Belmont Mall Studio in Belmont, Indiana
Engineered by Mike Piersante
Produced by John Mellencamp
Born October 7, 1951 in Seymour, Indiana, John Mellencamp fell in love with music at an early age and was gigging in local bars and fronting a soul band by the time he was 14. His professional music career began in earnest in 1976 when MCA Records released his first album, The Chestnut Street Incident. His manager dubbed him Johnny Cougar out of his belief that nobody would buy a record by anybody named Mellencamp. John protested but was overruled and eventually, of course, reclaimed his birth name as his public name.
After releasing a few albums, he broke out in 1979 with his first hit, "I Need A Lover" In 1982 his fifth album American Fool was the year's best-selling album on the strength of two huge hits, "Hurts So Good," and the number 1 single "Jack & Diane,"
The albums that followed in the 80's, Uh-Huh, Scarecrow, Lonesome Jubilee, and Big Daddy, were released under the name John Cougar Mellencamp. Hit singles during this period included "Crumblin Down," "The Authority Song," "Small Town," "Rain On The Scarecrow," "Lonely Ol Night," ""R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.," "Paper In Fire," "Check It Out," "Cherry Bomb," "Pop Singer," and "Jackie Brown."
Mellencamp took the music on the road with a band that many considered the best in the business, playing approximately 1,000 shows around the globe during the decade. In 1985, John's concern for the plight of the American farmer, which had been voiced in the Scarecrow album, brought him together with Willie Nelson and Neil Young in launching Farm Aid. It became an annual event and has helped make people aware of the issues farmers face and how they affect on the entire nation.
By the early 1990's "Cougar" was finally gone from John's name and a string of successful albums as John Mellencamp--Whenever We Wanted, Human Wheels and Dance Naked (including the number 2 single "Wild Night")--were released. In 1991 John made his film debut, starring in and directing Falling From Grace, a modest box office success that was well received by critics.
John suffered a mild heart attack while touring in 1994 in support of Dance Naked. This forced him to take a break from his music career, but he returned strong in 1996 and released Mr. Happy Go Lucky, which featured the hit "Key West Intermezzo" (I Saw You First). Healthier and happier, he returned to touring in 1997 and continued to write and record frequently. Releases included 1998's John Mellencamp, 1999's Rough Harvest, 2001's Cuttin Heads, and 2003's Trouble No More . Hit singles during that time ranged from "Your Life Is Now" to "I'm Not Running Anymore" to "Peaceful World." John continued to tour throughout 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006.
He received the 2001 Billboard Century award in recognition of all that he had accomplished over the course of his career and was honored with the Woody Guthrie Award in 2004. Previously, he was awarded a Grammy and had been nominated a total of 11 times. In 2007 the ASCAP Foundation honored John Mellencamp with its Champion Award in recognition of his outstanding use of music in service to humanity. Other recipients of this prestigious award have included Tony Bennett, Billy Joel and Arlo Guthrie. He was honored by The Americana Music Association with it's Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting three years later with the award presented in Nashville by Rosanne Cash. He was recognized with the John Steinbeck Award by San Jose State University's Steinbeck Center. The award, subtitled "In The Souls of the People," is given to individuals who have contributed to society in the spirit of the author John Steinbeck. Other recipients have included Arthur Miller, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Bruce Springsteen, Ken Burns, Joan Baez, Sean Penn and Studs Terkel. John was presented with the award at a program of song and conversation at San Jose's historic California Theatre in July of 2012. Visit: www.mellencamp.com