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Monday, June 25, 2012

String Quartet Tribute to John Mellencamp by the Vitamin String Quartet

Does it work? Yes, oddly enough it does!

Released in 2003 by Vitamin Records

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Mellencamp fan and I have been since American Fool came out in 1982. Fans like me could either love projects like this, or absolutely hate them and view them like a desecration. The attitude taken towards the project has a lot to do with it and this album has taken a respectful attitude towards Mellencamp's work.

John Mellencamp
The songs have been adapted for String Quartet but have not been radically altered - you can sing right along with them if you'd like. Most have been thoughtfully chosen - for example, if it featured a strong fiddle component, such as "Paper in Fire" than it was worked in to the album.

"Peaceful World" is achingly beautiful in this adaptation. "Small Town" has a more melancholy tone than the original song, but it is not at all inappropriate. It is also quite beautiful and it is respectful reinterpretation of this anthem to small town life.

The only duds in the group are "Hurts So Good" and "Jack and Diane." Unlike the other songs which seem to have been carefully chosen for their string quartet friendliness, these had to have been chosen because they are two Mellencamp standards - you cannot have a collection of his work without them. Heck, the first song I cued up was "Jack and Diane". It just did not translate well.

 Most are strong, two are tremendous, two are weak.

If you are a true Mellencamp fan (a Mellenhead, if you will) this one is one to pick up. I rate the entire collection 5 stars out of 5 and it can be found on Amazon.com here: String Quartet Tribute to John Mellencamp.

Reviewed on July 20, 2007.

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