Back to basics/If it aint broke why fix it?

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.


About High Velocity Trifle

My friends call me Sammy Lee but I was born Lee Tomlinson, I play drums in loads of bands and have done since I was 12, music is an obsession of mine, I try to balance it with my other love which is design; digital / hand drawn illustration / photography / video... I love to be creative and get excited when I see other peoples clever use of imagery, whether it be a piece of graffiti, a billboard, a magazine advertisement, brand logo design, an original/against the grain adornment of style, not to mention a well executed shamrock in the head of a pint of Guinness... What? Music and design share many similarities and as a working musician and design degree student I intend on creating work that depicts this as I try to establish myself as a graphic designer. I studied graphic design at ND level after leaving school and since then I have concentrated my efforts on playing music- this has been frustrating to say the least but also given me some incredible moments to cherish- I have some road stories and varied success with a few artists. The music industry leaves you with a very sour, synthetic taste after a while... Kinda like Sambuca but less flammable, but I was fortunate to record in many of London's legendary studio's and play in some great venues. After nearly ten years of sacrificing a decent wage (and occupation) playing music full time, I now want to focus more on my design work and put more of my artistic energy into this area/platform from which to be creative. There will always be critics and confidence breakers in every creative field but at least with creative design you don't have to deal with LSD (lead singer disease) ego platforms, dodgy promoters, touring up and down the country with hairy smelly wannabe rock stars and lugging instruments too and fro setting up only to find out the total attendance at that particular gig is the bar staff and the support band... I don't agree with that in the workplace!
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