Thursday, June 2, 2011

The #68 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era: "Scarecrow" by John Mellencamp

The next album represents the best work of John Mellencamp, although he did several excellent albums in a row. 

Scarecrow, however, is the one that makes it into the Top 100 Albums of All-Time in the Rock Era*.

The top singles were "Lonely Ol' Night", "Small Town" and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.", all of which made the Top Ten.  "Rain on the Scarecrow" and "Rumbleseat" were also released and the former is one of the Top Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  Another is "Minutes to Memories", an amazing song in my opinion.  Believe me, this album is about much more than the singles.  "Justice and Independence '85" also received significant airplay.  That's eight tracks right there out of essentially 11 on the album ("Grandma's Theme" is a prelude to "Small Town"--not a bad batting average!  Not to mention, there's more on the album that radio should have played.  "You've Got To Stand For Somethin'" is perhaps a song that everyone should listen to; it has a great and timeless message.  "Face of the Nation" is an excellent song as well.  As you can probably tell, this is one of my favorites as well; I would rank it much higher than what it actually comes in at.

The bottom line, though, is that the tremendous airplay that this album got is a major factor for it being ranked in any Top 100 list.  Listeners couldn't get enough of it.  The album first entered the Top 10 on October 5, 1985 and reached a peak of #2 for 2 weeks, spent another 6 weeks at #3 and an impressive 28 inside the Top 10.  This in the midst of competing against some great albums.  Review this list of albums out at the same time--Born in the U.S.A. from Springsteen, Whitney Houston (debut album), Afterburner from ZZ Top, Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits and the self-titled Heart album.  Scarecrow was still in the Top 5 albums after 31 weeks.  For an album to hold its own against that competition is very revealing.

All told, Scarecrow was on the album chart for 75 weeks.  The album has sold five million copies in the United States and has an outstanding Track Record* of 9.09.  Keep in mind that the Track Rating*, which is something unique to this ranking of the top albums, reflects what you can expect from the album with 10 being the highest possible rating.  Anything over about 8.5 is a very good album.

The album was nominated for International Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.

(all songs written by Mellencamp unless noted)
1.    "Rain on the Scarecrow" (John Mellencamp, George M. Green) --3:46
2.    "Grandma's Theme" (traditional) --0.56
3.    "Small Town" --3:41
4.    "Minutes to Memories" (Mellencamp, Green) --4:11
5.    "Lonely Ol' Night" --3:45
6.    "The Face of the Nation" --3:13
7.    "Justice and Independence '85" --3:32
8.    "Between a Laugh and a Tear" --4:32
9.    "Rumbleseat" --2:58
10.  "You've Got to Stand for Somethin'" --4:32
11.  "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A" --2:54
12.  "The Kind of Fella I Am" --2:55

Mellencamp played guitar with Larry Crane also contributing electric and acoustic guitar and Mike Wanchic playing electric guitar.  Kenny Aronoff played bass, tambourine and vibes and Toby Myers played bass.  Guest musicians were Rickie Lee Jones, who sang backup on "Between a Laugh and a Tear", Sarah Flint, backing vocals on "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A', Laura Mellencamp, Mimi Mapes sang backup on "Minutes to Memories" and John's grandmother, did "Grandma's Theme".   

Ry Cooder played slide on "The Kind of Fella I Am" while A. Jack Wilkins (saxophone) and Richard Fanning (trumpet) played on "Justice and Independence '85".

Scarecrow was recorded in March and April of 1985 in Belmont, Indiana.  Mellencamp co-produced the album along with Don Gehman. It was released August 19, 1985 on Riva Records, a division of Mercury Records. 

At #68, Scarecrow from John Mellencamp.

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