The Virginian-Pilot: Life Death Live and Freedom Review

With “Life, Death, Live and Freedom,” (Hear Music) John Mellencamp is giving his fans a snapshot of the history of his 2008 release “Life, Death, Love and Freedom.”

Before the tracks were released on that CD, Mellencamp road-tested the songs on tour to thousands of fresh ears. In the midst of “Pink Houses” and “Jack and Diane” he would mix in totally unknown songs to test the waters with the audience. What you hear on this disc are untouched soundboard recordings from those shows.

Musically, the eight songs on “Life, Death, Live and Freedom” are introspective. They range from the politically charged “Jena,” written about the racially volatile Louisiana town of the same name, to “Longest Days” in which Mellencamp revisits time spent with his late grandmother. All of the songs are stark and organic, hitting the audience with unfamiliarity, which in turn allows them to deliver their message untouched by publicity.

That is what this CD is about.

– Mike Doyle

Tracks to download “Jena,” “Don’t Need This Body”

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