On the Rural Route 7609 (2010)


 
Disc One 1. Longest Days 2. Grandma's Theme 3. Rural Route 4. Jackie Brown 5. Rain on the Scarecrow 6. Jim Crow (Spoken) 7. Jim Crow 8. Big Daddy of Them All 9. Deep Blue Heart 10.Forgiveness 11.Don't Need This Body 12.Jenny at 16 13.Jack and Diane (Writing Demo) 14.Jack and Diane Disc Two 1. The Real Life (Spoken) 2. Ghost Towns Along the Highway 3. The Full Catastrophe 4. Authority Song (Writing Demo) 5. Troubled Land 6. To Washington 7. Our Country 8. Country Gentleman 9. Freedom's Road 10.Mr. Bellows 11.Rodeo Clown 12.Love and Happiness 13.Pink Houses Disc Three 1. If I Die Sudden 2. Someday 3. Between a Laugh and a Tear 4. Void in My Heart 5. Death Letter 6. Sugar Marie 7. Theo and Weird Henry 8. When Jesus Left Birmingham 9. L.U.V. 10.Thank You 11.Women Seem 12.The World Don't Bother Me None 13.Cherry Bomb (Writing Demo) 14.Some Day the Rains Will Fall 15.A Ride Back Home Disc Four 1. My Aeroplane 2. Colored Lights 3. Just Like You 4. Young Without Lovers 5. To M.G. (Wherever She May Be) 6. Sweet Evening Breeze 7. What If I Came Knocking 8. County Fair 9. Peaceful World 10.Your Life is Now 11.For the Children 12.Rural Route

 

When a well established artist puts out a "box set" well into their career, the expectations are that the compilation will either be a) chocked filled with hits, b) filled with rarities and alternate versions or c) probably a combination of both. What John Mellencamp was trying to do on this one isn't any of the above, and what he was really trying to do is beyond me.

As usual, Mellencamp is bitter about a lot of things, and by this stage in his career, he basically dismissed his earlier, rock-heavy phase (i.e. his most popular) of his career. Audiences that saw him in concert wanted to reminisce in the glory years of his past, but he didn't want any part of it. It shouldn't come as too big of a surprise, then, when this collection contains mostly newer stuff. Now, he had a lot of good stuff later in his career, but you really wouldn't know that by a lot of the choices he picks for the compilation. It's almost like he's pissed off (surprise, surprise) that his later records didn't sell, so he's forcing them on us again.

What's weird is that there are times when he includes some nice rough demos of his early, popular songs such as The Authority Song and Cherry Bomb, but doesn't include the actual songs themselves. There are a couple of nice spots. He has a guest, African-American artist read the lyrics to Jim Crow before the actual song, and this does work. It works mainly because hearing the lyrics read has a stronger emphasis on the meaning of the song, and the song itself is one of the stronger ones here. Other times, though, he will have someone read the lyrics (as on The Real Life) but then, again, not include the cotton pickin' song. What exactly was he thinking??

The "number" in the title is supposed to be a reference to when the songs were done (1976 - 2009), yet his early stuff is virtually ignored, so this is very misleading. Sure, it was good the John Mellencamp was always a "rebel", but when you're expecting your fans to shell out a lot of money, they shouldn't be misled into what they're getting. One would hope that the fan will take several minutes to read the actual titles on this package before committing a large sum of money.

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