March 1, 2004
Trouble No More: The Making of a John Mellencamp Album
In the spirit of such “behind the studio glass” classics as Let It Be and The Making of Pump, this documentary offers a fascinating account of how Mellencamp recorded his rootsy album, Trouble No More. Directed by Indiana University professor Ron Osgood, and shot by his students using black-and-white digital video, the work has a gritty, fast-paced, unvarnished appeal. In the finest cinema verite tradition, there’s no voice-over narration to color or guide our response to what we’re seeing. Instead, we watch Mellencamp and his musicians and associates describe what they’re doing as they’re doing it. As we observe the album being planned, rehearsed, tracked, overdubbed, and mixed, we also share the hidden drama—including moving footage of the producer’s implosion—that surrounds every great album.
The DVD includes several live in-studio, full-song performances by Mellencamp’s crack band. Recorded to 16-track analog tape using tube mics and vintage gear, the music has a raw, edgy quality that perfectly matches the album’s cover material—a collection of traditional blues, plus songs by Lucinda Williams, Willie Dixon, Woodie Guthrie, Son House, and Hoagy Carmichael. Guitarist Andy York is a standout—his slide tone, phrasing, and overall vibe are stellar—and the interplay between York and longtime Mellencamp 6-stringer Mike Wanchic is inspiring. Redline Entertainment.