On his 15th album, 2001 Billboard Century Award honoree John Mellencamp delivers a strong set of songs that takes on added meaning in the aftermath of Sept.

On his 15th album, 2001 Billboard Century Award honoree John Mellencamp delivers a strong set of songs that takes on added meaning in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Already off to a good start at radio, the set's first single, the groove-rich "Peaceful World" (with neo-soulster India.Arie providing guest vocals), finds Mellencamp singing: "Racism lives in the U.S. today/Better get hip to what Martin Luther King had to say/I don't want my kids being brought up this way/ Hatred to each other is not OK." The controversial title track (with a rap by Public Enemy's Chuck D.), "Crazy Island"—which questions the state of America—and the sweet "Women Seem" are now concert favorites. Fond memories run deep on "Deep Blue Heart," a heartfelt duet with Trisha Yearwood. Cuttin' Heads is arguably Mellencamp's best album since 1987's The Lonesome Jubilee and 1983's Uh-Huh—perhaps because he has caught the tenor of the times again.—MP

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