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01/05/2011 - Read Bob Fisher's full story of how filmmakers Kurt and Ian Markus came to make "It's About You," the film that has been shown at the beginning of John's No Better Than This Tour dates is chronicled in the latest issue P3 Update, a leading trade publication covering film production. Read about Kurt's relationship with John and "It's About You" after the jump. Read More
01/05/2011 - John's newest single is "Save Some Time To Dream" from No Better Than This. The track, a concert highlight on John's current tour, has been sent to Adult Album Alternative (AAA/Triple A) and Americana format radio stations. Now is an ideal time to contact your local stations to request it. After the jump read more ways you can help including links to your local radio stations. Read More
01/04/2011 - Read the full top ten list in the February - March 2011 issue of Sound+Vision. - "10. No Better Than This (Rounder) For better or worse, the mono sonics got a big chunk of the press. Better to ignore that and concentrate on the songs, which range winningly from small-band rockabilly to solo-acoustic balladry.
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01/03/2011 - Read Don Wilcock's full top 10 list of the year on the troyrecord site. - "10. John Mellencamp, No Better Than This: Determined to once and for all shake any latent Johnny Cougar pop/rock sheen from his image, Mellencamp stripped away every facet of the star product mentality. He wrote the 13 songs here by himself in 13 days. Then he took T Bone Burnett, the premier roots producer, and headed for three iconic locations to record in mono with no overdubs: Sun Studios in Memphis, Room 414 in the Gunter Hotel where Robert Johnson recorded, and at the First Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. It’s real and like an ingénue in bare feet with no makeup, it’s pretty..."

It seems the further away in time we get from “the classics” of popular music, the stronger they come into focus. Technology has taken the pops and crackles out of old 78s. Artists who became stars decades ago are dusting off old product and releasing it with new twists. And younger artists inspired by their father’s record collection are creating music that pays homage to their influences..."
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01/02/2011 - Read Linda East Brady's full article and view the top ten artist's videos on the Standard Examiner site. - " 8. "No Better Than This," John Mellencamp -- T-Bone Burnett produced this album (as well as the No. 1 pick on this list). It was a good match for this, Indiana-born Mellencamp's 25th album, and perhaps one of his strongest overall. The material is all original and recorded in historic settings, including Sun Studios in Memphis, where Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash and Elvis got their start, and also the hotel room where Faustian bluesman Robert Johnson cut his sides.

Production is kept simple, with a ribbon mike for vocals and a small, respected backing duo for support. The songwriting is some of Mellencamp's best in years, truly timeless pieces that resonate as well now as they might have 50 years ago, or likely will 50 hence.

The tone might be a bit dark for those who only know Mellencamp from his Johnny Cougar days, but the work is sparkling with characters. "No One Cares About Me" is about an out-of-work man abandoned by all he loves. The title cut is a rocker about having a rich fantasy life without much real hope in getting there, like a modern take on "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

This album shows just how good a songwriter Mellencamp has become over the years, and how strong his rootsy rock 'n' roll musical heart still beats..."
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01/02/2011 - Read Brent Thompson's full list on the Birmingham Weekly site. - "John Mellencamp—No Better Than This (Rounder Records) A bare-bones effort (recorded in mono around a single mic) produced by T-Bone Burnett, Mellencamp records in historic places including Sun Studios and the Texas hotel where Robert Johnson once recorded. Guitarists Andy York and Marc Ribot add texture to the disc’s 13 tracks..."
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12/31/2010 - Read Karl Leslie's complete top 20 list on the website. - "10. John Mellencamp, “No Better Than This:” Based in folk, this T-Bone Burnett-produced album is a trip back in time and represents another excellent Mellencamp release..."

Compiling a year-end list of best albums is always a difficult task, but this year the assignment was especially tough. Just look at some of the albums I have listed in the 20-40 range. It’s hard to believe some of them aren’t in the top 10. I guess I shouldn’t complain. As a music junkie, there’s no such thing as too much good music.
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12/30/2010 - Two of the Montreal Gazette's music reviewers Jordan Zivitz and Bernard Perusse look back on the music of 2010 and offer their picks for the best (and worst).

Top 10 Albums: Jordan Zivitz - 5. John Mellencamp: No Better Than This (Rounder). He’s been a folksinger at heart for decades, so it was only a matter of time before Mellencamp would entirely renounce rock stardom. He has rarely sounded as connected to his land, his people or his art.

Top 5 Songs: Bernard Perusses - 1. John Mellencamp: Easter Eve. From Mellencamp’s best album in years, this moving slice of life was a tale told in straight narrative form, Woody Guthrie style.
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12/30/2010 - Ocala Star-Banner writer Dave Schlenkes reflects on the year in music: "It was a year of meat dresses, black swans and angry birds. It was a year when Facebook became THE top social network and “The Social Network” became THE must-see film. Sting jammed with the symphony, and John Mellencamp shunned stereo. A 43-year-old guy's top CDs:

1. “No Better Than This,” John Mellencamp - Recorded in mono, this collection is raw, raucous and irresistible. Read Dave's complete list on the site.
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12/29/2010 - Read Scott Mervis' full Top Ten list after the jump. - " 3. John Mellencamp (Heinz Hall, Nov. 20): It's not like John Mellencamp to rank this high on such a list. But, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, take note: The Indiana rocker found a way of presenting all sides of his music, and personality, in an exquisite set that ranged from accordion-violin duets to all-out heartland rock..."
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12/29/2010 - Read Tris McCall's full rundown of Pop Music in 2010 after the jump. - "Biggest surprise: "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" was a nifty sidestep into country-folk by John Mellencamp, but the 2008 release couldn’t have prepared anybody for this year’s "No Better Than This," which is, in its own way, as raw and radical as any album put out by a pop experimentalist this year. Mellencamp cut his songs in mono and in real time, setting up his mobile studio in the First African Baptist Church in Savannah and in the San Antonio hotel room where Robert Johnson made "Cross Road Blues." No polish was added, and Mellencamp sang like a man pursued by phantoms. If you listen between the notes, you can hear the ghosts whispering into the vintage microphones."
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12/29/2010 - Read Anthony Kuzminski's complete top ten list on The Screen Door Blogspot. Number Three - John Mellencamp may be at his creative crest over the last few years and No Better Than This is a living example. While Mellencamp may be leaning his sound towards the past, he’s capturing the ache of the world in lyrics that are full of cold fury and pleas for redemption. Nine of the album’s thirteen songs were cut in Sun Studio in Memphis and amidst the spare instrumentation and mono sound you can feel the ambiance of those great Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis records from the 1950’s. The restrained instrumentation helps entrench the lyrical emotions. It’s a rich record, steeped in the folk and blues of our countries past with themes that pinch you in the present.
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12/29/2010 - Read David Lindquist's Top 5 Concerts on the site. 1. John Mellencamp, Nov. 8, Clowes Hall - Indiana's rock star reclaimed his musical mojo this year by putting little emphasis on rock stardom. Instead, John Mellencamp's tour to promote new album "No Better Than This" re-imagined his Hall of Fame career in three compelling acts: rockabilly followed by folk and capped by rock. Signature hits "Jack & Diane" and "Authority Song" received sonic overhauls, while a bone-chilling rendition of Son House's "Death Letter" found Mellencamp with hands raised in a voodoo pose -- telling his newly deceased lover he'll see her on Judgment Day. By drinking deeply from American roots music, the 59-year-old has a blueprint for the rest of his career. With luck, 2011 will bring the tour back to cozy Clowes or the similarly sized Murat Theatre in Old National Centre.
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12/29/2010 - Frequent Free Press contributor and WQKL-FM (107.1) radio host Martin Bandyke offers up his top 10 albums of 2010: 3. John Mellencamp, "No Better Than This" (Rounder): There is a magical vibe about this album, recorded at three historic sites, including Sun Studio in Memphis.
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12/29/2010 - This wasn't a plentiful year for CD and DVD box sets -- the kind of releases that make special holiday gifts for music fans. But there weren't many misses in this year's crop of releases, either. Read Alan Scully's full list on the Post Tribune.Here are the best of the bunch to my ears and eyes.

John Mellencamp: "On the Rural Route 7609" (Mercury/Island/UME) -- John Mellencamp has always been one of rock's true rebels. So it makes sense that he didn't make the typical career retrospective box set with "On the Rural Route 7609." Instead, he chose songs he felt best told his musical life story, mixing in a good number of alternate versions of familiar songs and lesser known, but illuminating, album tracks. What emerges is a portrait of an artist who grew from being a brash and generic young rocker into one of rock's most compelling songwriters, and an artist with plenty of insights into the human condition and life in America over the past 30 years. Read More
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