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John Mellencamp: ...Performs Trouble No More

A bluesy Cougar looks back, live from 2003.

Mellencamp’s original Trouble No More album, from 2003, found him journeying through America’s musical past, paying tribute to the (mainly) blues heroes that first inspired him. Here, a month after the record had been in the shops, he plays it in its entirety at New York’s Town Hall, the set bolstered by a handful of his own compositions.

Stripped down readings of Robert Johnson (Stones In My Passway), Willie Dixon (Down In The Bottom) and Son House (Death Letter) bring a pleasing authenticity, illustrating an innate understanding of the form, while a fiery version of Lucinda Williams’ Lafayette serves as a pointer to how blues music continued to thrive.

Mellencamp’s own rugged Pink Houses fits the template perfectly, as does another non-album cut, a rustic chug along Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisted. Ultimately, though, this collection might have made more sense as a bonus disc on a reissue of the first release.