Troy NY - The Record: Top CDs of the Year

The Record By Don Wilcock

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.

Today’s best music erases the generation gap, racial and ethnic prejudices and, with the reduced costs of producing recordings, allows a broader playing field of artists and better music for those willing to look for it. With that in mind, here are my 10 favorite albums of 2010.