No Better Than This
John Mellencamp has been a thorn in the side of the music business for many years. He has mass appeal, but he courts it with suspicion. His 2010 release, No Better Than This, was recorded live, in mono, to an Ampex 601 tape recorder from the mid-‘50s, with a single microphone. The trick was to choose acoustically superior rooms to capture the magic for a small ensemble that includes drummer Jay Bellerose and guitarist Marc Ribot. So while on tour Mellencamp stopped off at Sun Studios in Memphis, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, and the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where blues legend Robert Johnson is said to have recorded. “Save Some Time to Dream” is Mellencamp gently coaxing his audience into his reflective state of mind. “Right Behind Me” expresses the war between Jesus and the Devil inside him. “No One Cares About Me” is a tale of disenfranchisement with a splash of Sun Records haunting the track. Tunes such as “Coming Down the Road,” “Don’t Forget About Me” and “Each Day of Sorrow” are classic rock in the truest sense of the word.