1984 was a big year for pop music, from the tail-end of Michael Jackson's Thriller era, the commercial breakthroughs of Madonna and Prince, and the blockbuster release of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., which spun off seven Top 40 hits over the following year and a half. Those rising commercial tides lifted many boats, and John Mellencamp benefited greatly a year later with his own blue-collar rock masterpiece, the cutting Scarecrow. On November 4, that album comes back into print as a deluxe edition, featuring rare and unreleased tracks as well as a new remix of the album.
Though Mellencamp (still enduring under the record company-imposed "John Cougar Mellencamp" moniker) was no stranger to the pop charts - preceding albums American Fool (1982) and Uh-Huh (1983) each notched a pair of Top 10 hits, including the chart-topper "Jack & Diane" - Scarecrow marked a turning point in the Indiana native's songcraft. After rehearsing 100 classic rock singles with his band at the artist's new "Belmont Mall" recording studio, Mellencamp recorded a dozen songs covering love, life and freedom as well as the plight of the working man. For his trouble, Scarecrow launched five Top 40 singles: the Top 10 hits "Small Town," "Lonely Ol' Night" and the on-the-nose "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to '60s Rock)," along with rock radio staple "Rumbleseat" and the haunting opener "Rain on the Scarecrow." The album sold more than 5 million copies, and along with Mellencamp's co-founding of the Farm Aid charity concert series, established him as a hitmaker with a hardscrabble heart.
For the new Scarecrow reissue - which Mellencamp suggested in an interview with Brian Koppelman earlier this year that he was only tangentially involved with - an as-yet unnamed remixer has recast the original album (plus an acoustic B-side version of "Small Town") in a new stereo mix. A bonus disc features 11 rare B-sides, rough mixes and demos. (A deluxe box set includes the new album mix on 180-gram half-speed mastered vinyl as well as stereo and Atmos mixes on Blu-ray, plus a poster, lithograph and 7" reissue of the "Small Town" single.) Anthony DeCurtis has contributed liner notes for both editions.
You can hear the three versions of "Small Town" - new mixes of the album and B-side versions, plus a lo-fi "writing demo" - above. Scarecrow will be available November 4 and can be pre-ordered below.
Scarecrow: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMe, 2022)
Disc 1: Remixed album
- Rain on the Scarecrow
- Grandma's Theme
- Small Town
- Minutes to Memories
- Lonely Ol' Night
- The Face of the Nation
- Justice and Independence '85
- Between a Laugh and a Tear
- You've Got to Stand for Somethin'
- R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60's Rock)
- The Kind of Fella I Am
- Small Town (Acoustic Version)
Tracks 1-11 released as Riva/Mercury 824 865-1 M-1, 1985
Track 12 released on CD edition of album - Riva 824 865-2 - and "Lonely Ol' Night" single - Riva RS 217, 1985
Track 13 released on "Small Town" single - Riva RS 218, 1985
Disc 2: Bonus tracks (previously unreleased except where noted)
- Under the Boardwalk (2022 Mix)
- Lonely Ol' Night (Rough Mix)
- Between a Laugh and a Tear (Writer's Demo)
- Carolina Shag
- Cold Sweat (2022 Mix)
- Rumbleseat (Writer's Demo)
- Smart Guys
- R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60's Rock) (Rough Mix)
- Minutes to Memories (Rough Mix)
- Shama Lama Ding Dong
- Small Town (Writer's Demo)
Original mix of Track 1 from "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." single - Riva RS 219, 1985
Original mix of Track 5 from "Rumbleseat" single - Riva RS 221, 1985
Track 10 from "Cherry Bomb" single - Mercury 888 934-7, 1987
Blu-ray includes CD 1 in stereo and Atmos mixes
LP includes CD 1, Tracks 1-12. 7" replicates "Small Town" single - Riva RS 218, 1985