Adeli’s Music Blog

John Mellencamp: Life, Death, LIVE and Freedom

Posted in music by adeli on August 1, 2009

John Mellencamp’s 2008 Life, Death, Love and Freedom was loaded with introspection, pessimism, and heavy lyrics; quite prophetic for the times we rolled into soon after. It wasn’t aimed for the general audience though. Only one, “Sweet Love,” would get radio play like Mellencamp’s lighter classics.

While Mellencamp hasn’t always been a singer of happy songs, he always sounded lively enough. His tone has changed though, along with the nation’s, since the beginning of this decade with Trouble No More, Freedom’s Road, and Life, Death, Love and Freedom. His latest release Life, Death, LIVE and Freedom is a collection of live versions of songs from last year’s release, the eight best, including If I Die Sudden, A Ride Back Home, Jena, Longest Days, and Sweet Love.

When Life, Death, Love and Freedom was released last year, I bought it immediately, as any loyal Mellencamp fan would. I remarked that it was a good album but a bit depressing. At the time, I was unhappily working at a café and two songs from LDLF would come up consecutively almost daily, “Longest Days” and “Sweet Love.” Thank goodness, the latter song is peppy and helped me recover from “Longest Days.” When Mellencamp sang: “Nothing lasts forever. And when your best efforts don’t always pay. Sometimes we get sick and we won’t get better…” I wanted to take a knife to my veins (luckily, only plastic was available) or drown in a large vat of frappuccino mix. But there’s good news: The live version of that song doesn’t sound so somber on this new album.

So, now you’re thinking: “If that album was so depressing why dredge up those songs again?” Here are a few reasons. John Mellencamp has one of the best bands out there; it’s commanding and gritty, especially live. Mellencamp is a passionate and energetic live performer. Unlike so many artists who sound better when their voices are “remastered” in the studio because they can’t sing live or otherwise, Mellencamp’s raspy voice belts out his songs with equal power in both mediums. And here, the songs sound better than on their studio-recorded counterparts. These songs are presented just as they were performed, with no overdubs or enhancements. It certainly sounds like Mellencamp’s audience is having a great time. The low price of $7.99 is a nice treat too. Each one of these tunes is definitely worth at least a buck. It’s a solid rock concert album.

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