Words & Music — John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits
Cynics might snipe that Words & Music is an appropriate title for a greatest hits set from an artist whose back catalogue is difficult to distinguish between. But such criticism does John Mellancamp’s music a huge disservice. True, the self-styled Voice of the Heartland’s output is sometimes more about perspiration than inspiration, but for fans of blue collar, regular-guy rock, Mellencamp has few peers, and as far of best of collections go, Words & Music is as comprehensive as they come.
If Mellencamp is remembered for just one song from his three-decade career, it’s ultimately “Jack and Diane,” the tune that defined his career. But although it’s undoubtedly the most popular song he has released, ahead of the likes of “Pink Houses” and “Small Town,” it’s by no means his best. The gritty “Human Wheels,” the philosophical “Your Life Is Now,” the pent-up anger of “Pop Singer” or even the modern stylings of “When Jesus Left Birmingham” could all lay claim to that honor. Yet, Mellencamp’s best work is not necessarily behind him, as “Walk Tall,” one of two new tracks, emphatically indicates.
Words & Music proves that John Mellencamp is one of modern American music’s most iconic figures, and even his harshest critics would struggle to dispute his legacy.
John Mellencamp: www.mellencamp.com