A Biography (1978)

1. Born Reckless 2. Factory 3. Night Slumming 4. Taxi Dancer 5. I Need a Lover 6. Alley of the Angels 7. High C Cherrie 8. Where the Sidewalk Ends 9. Let Them Run Your Lives 10.Goodnight 11.I Need a Lover


His third, and final, "early" release that quickly became out of print and "lost" from any official collection. In fact, this one wasn't even released in the U.S. at all because of the poor showing of his first two records. Although this record is nowhere near as good as his future work would be in his heyday, it's miles ahead of his first two albums, which through no fault of his own really, were just awful.

He's still a young rebel rabble rouser, and his whiny bravado schtick wears pretty thin after awhile. Sure, the guy was always complaining and pissed off through his entire career, but his youth and inexperience makes him sound too much like the annoying greaser that lived down the street from you when you were growing up that skipped school all the time and hung out with the other "bad boys" in front of the malt shop.

When you dig a bit deeper, however, there is some quality material here. He's desperately ripping off early Springsteen on many of the tracks, and the fact that you can even begin to make that comparison is actually a backhanded compliment. There's one classic song on here, the sad Taxi Dancer that was really his first classic, even though no one had ever really heard it. It was such a good song, that when he released his follow up record to this album, John Cougar, he rerecorded it for that record as well, probably so it had at least a small shot of being heard by people in the U.S. The version here is much better though. It's a cleaner, stripped down version that doesn't make it easier to listen to, but does the theme of the song a considerable amount more justice.

A similar thing was done for the "other" good song, I Need a Lover. "Similar", because the exact same version that's on this album appeared on the follow up. No re-recordings for this one. That in itself is a small disappointment since the song, definitely a catchy tune, suffers a bit from over production.

This album, along with his first two, didn't really resurface until some 35 years after they were released. Mellencamp, himself probably wishes they hadn't, but you could start to see the genius slowly starting to appear.

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