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John Mellencamp: Lonesome Jubilee

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Each Definitive Remaster will feature newly remastered sound, a rare or previously unreleased bonus track and upgraded packaging. Packaging will feature lyrics and complete artwork. Island. 2005.

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The Lonesome Jubilee continued Scarecrow's stylistic and thematic examination of the rustic and rural. While it's not quite the knockout its predecessor was, the album does find Mellencamp and band in an undeniable groove. It's also hard to dispute the details of vignettes such as "Cherry Bomb" or treatises like "Paper in Fire." --Rickey Wright

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Paper In Fire
  2. Down & Out In Paradise
  3. Check It Out
  4. The Real Life
  5. Cherry Bomb
  6. We Are The People
  7. Empty Hands
  8. Hard Times For An Honest Man
  9. Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
  10. Rooty Toot Toot


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mercury
  • ASIN: B000001FMJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,975 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 22, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Mellencamp took his romantic fascination with the heartland to the max with "The Lonesome Jubilee". Lyrically, he doesn't really break any new ground here: The album is dominated by social commentary and vivid narritives of the life of the regular American. However, the quality of the songs is remarkable and John brings in a variety of instruments that you rarely hear on a "rock n roll" record. From the opening accordion and dobro guitar riffs of *Paper In Fire*, "Jubilee" is mostly upbeat. Songs like *Down And Out*, *The Real Life*, *Hard Times For An Honest Man* roll along passionatly. Mellencamp brings in a strident working class anthem in *We Are The People* and also a few deep, melancholy stories with *Empty Hands* and *Hotdogs and Hamburgers*. You can almost feel the despair of the characters in the songs when John uses words like "Oh lord, what did I do to deserve these empty hands" or "My daddy's always drunk, my mom's a babysitter, and I don't like the Russians cause I hear they hate me". On the other hand, the carefree *Rooty Toot Toot* breathes a little Mellencampesque comedy into the record. Finally, there's two songs on here that are worth the admission price alone. Listen for the beautifull fiddle work on the nostalgic *Cherry Bomb*. With its catchy accordion hook, building melody, and crafty lyrics, *Check It Out* is probably Mellencamp's finest song! All in all, "The Lonesome Jubilee" is a fantastic recording, where John Mellencamp, Middle American ambassador that he is, is at the top of his game. The eclectic instrumentation, the themes, and the emotions in these songs will blow you away!
Thanks!
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Format: Audio CD
No matter how many times I've listened to this album, I still love it. I remember reading a Musician magazine review praising it upon its release in 1987 and thinking that, "Well, I thought the songs on 'Scarecrow' were pretty good, even though they were played to death on the radio. Maybe this one will be good, too." Until then, I had never bought any of Mellencamp's music. After listening to "The Lonesome Jubilee," I had to own all of it. To this day I still think this is his strongest album. It might not have anything as radio friendly as "R.O.C.K. in the USA," "Small Town," "Jack and Diane," or "Tumblin' Down," but the songs, while maybe not as catchy, are definitely stronger both musically and lyrically. There's not a single weak track here, and songs like "Paper in Fire," "Real Life," "Down and Out in Paradise," "Hot Dogs and Hamburgers" and "Check it Out" are all masterpieces, some of the best songs to come out of the 80s -- even if they didn't enjoy so much popularity. I still think this was probably the best album of 1987, and one of the best albums of the 80s. Had Mellencamp released it in 1980 as an unknown, he would have immediately enjoyed Springsteen-like adoration. But coming on the heals of "Scarecrow" and "Uh-huh," people thought they knew Mellencamp; his fan base was already established. That's a shame, because all of his best work lay ahead on his next two albums as well as later on the underrated "Human Wheels" and "Dance Naked." Unfortunately, by the time of those two later releases, rock-n-roll was on its last legs. Hip-hop, rap, techno and divas were taking over. The likes of Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey and M.C. Hammer were all the rage. (Where are they now?Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
"Paper in Fire" was the first (and biggest) single off this album, but it is not one of my favorites. It is however a strong rocker with John Mellencamp borrowing heavily from the Bible for his lyrics. "Cherry Bomb" and "Rooty Toot Toot" were also singles, and much more melodic than "Paper in Fire." The Lonesome Jubilee is loaded with well-composed tunes, thanks partly to Mellencamp's songwriting collaborator George Green.
"Cherry Bomb" is one of my favorite tracks, another JM reflection on his small town youth. I also like "Check it Out," and "Hot Dogs and Hamburgers." The latter is a story-song in first-person narrative about meeting an Indian girl on the road and giving her a lift. He tries to take advantage but she brushes him off, then he gets a conscience. The song is a strong statement about white America's role in destroying the Native Americans' way of life, and The Lonesome Jubilee is on the whole a very political album. Other songs lament poverty and broken dreams in working-class America.
The backing vocals are stronger and more soulful on this album than previous JM efforts, and the addition of folk and bluegrass instruments like the fiddle and the mandolin are very welcome. I highly recommend this album.
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Format: Audio CD
Though it may be highly unfashionable these days to admit to being a John Cougar Mellencamp fan, I'd have to admit that if push came to shove 'The Lonesome Jubilee' would be one of my all time favourite albums. I had never really cared much for his older eighties material, but with this release Mellencamp really nailed it - an artistic and commercial success that encapsulates the hopes and dreams of many Americans (and New Zealanders) in the late eighties era and that is admirably, steadfastly written for 'the people'. I believe this is where Mellencamp was in the zone in terms of his songwriting, shaking off the tag of 'poor man's Springsteen' (whom I also love), and delivering some absolute classics in 'Paper in Fire', 'Check It Out', 'The Real Life', and 'Cherry Bomb'. 'We Are The People' and 'Empty Hands' are superb album tracks also. An album such as this is made for road trips, and sitting around with friends reminiscing over past days over a couple of beers - so much so that any self respecting diner or bar should come equipped with a copy of this in their jukebox.
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