Dance Naked (1994)

1. Dance Naked 2. Brothers 3. When Margaret Comes to Town 4. Wild Night 5. L.U.V. 6. Another Sunny Day 12/25 7. Too Much To Think About 8. The Big Jack 9. The Breakout


I confess that I'm always suspicious whenever an artist releases an album only nine months after a prior one - especially when the whole disc clocks in at about 29 minutes. Of course, Mellencamp never did take any sort of "predictable" route during any phase in his career - seemingly to cherish the "rebel" image that he always tried so hard to portray, so it really shouldn't surprise anyone.

At first listen, this disc is almost forgettable. It comes and goes so fast, without any real penetration, that it's easy to write off as somewhat inconsequential. It's only after repeated listens (and you can do many in a short time) that the charms start to show. It's not a "throwaway" album that was made quickly and carelessly. The finesse is definitely in all of the right places. The overall record has a very simple feel to it though, and many of the songs are strong enough to where you almost wish that he had spent a bit more time on them. Not necessarily the arrangements, those are perfect, but maybe in the recordings itself. I think about songs such as To Much to Think About It or L.U.V., there both incredibly catchy, and filled with what makes Mellencamp so revered by fans, critics and his peers. Since the recordings are so simple, though, it's not that difficult to see why most of this album was dismissed so quickly.

The only thing most people know, ironically, is the Van Morrison cover of Wild Night. It's not that the song is the best on here, it's just that it really sounds like the right amount of care and production went into it. There's not much else here that would fit into that category.

Although he would still put out material that critics found memorable, his popularity was fading, and most of his audiences were wanting to hear his material from a decade earlier. Not something that necessarily resonated well with the surly Mellencamp. It probably didn't help that he had a minor heart attack shortly after the tour supporting this album started and caused a bit of a setback.

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