John Mellencamp, American solo artist most famous in the U.K for songs ‘Jack & Diane’ and ‘Hurts so good’ (from 80’s movie ‘Footloose’) has just released a new Album ‘No Better Than This’. This is no normal album, it’s a stripped back, honest, statement about progress and how unnecessary it really is, while embracing the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll! ‘ Recorded at historic locations, such as the First African baptist church in Savanna, Georgia as well as at the historic Sun studios in Memphis where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis made their legendary first recordings and and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where blues pioneer Robert Johnson recorded blues staples like “Sweet home Chicago” and “Cross road blues.” Mellencamp recorded the album using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only ONE microphone, requiring all the musicians to gather together around the mic!!!!! The album was recorded in Mono, the same manner as the classic folk and blues recordings of the 1930s and ’40s.
Mellencamp wrote one song specifically for Room 414 at the Gunter Hotel, which is the exact room where Johnson recorded in November 1936. During Mellencamp’s session at Sun Studios in late July 2009, he recorded several songs, including “Each Day of Sorrow,” “No One Cares About Me,” “The West End,” and “Easter Eve,” Regarding this session, Mellencamp remarked “We got five songs here last night. We asked ourselves, ‘What the fuck were we doing in the 70s and 80s, spending days and days on a drum sound, when it was all right here the whole time?’”
Everything was set up exactly as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley recorded. They had ‘X’ marks made with electrical tape on the floor where Elvis and his musicians stood and where the instruments were placed, because Sam Phillips walked around the room and decided where everything sounded best.” I was lucky enough to be in Sun Studios two months before this recording took place. Whilst there I fell under the spell along with my road trip buddies of the sheer magnitude and importance of the building itself and what it gave birth too.
My reason for putting it in this blog is due to the artistic importance of this album and the statement in which it conveys. I am very much in favour of old school values and going against the grain and this album does just that. I have also been a lifelong fan of John Mellencamp and feel he needs to be more respected and known especially this side of the atlantic. I recommend anyone who reads this to check the album out and any others from his awesome back catalogue.