Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Archivist: John Mellencamp - The Lonesome Jubilee

Whenever America picks a rocker to love, they nearly always love them for life. So it was in the early 80s that John Cougar started to make waves in his home country of the USA. The Indiana rocker had been releasing music from as early as 1976 before he hit the big time with the album American Fool in 1982. Producing two huge singles in the states.
Middle America took John Cougar to their hearts. Enjoying his no nonsense, old fashioned (at the time) Rock n Roll sensibilities the Americans gave him such huge success he questioned his own musical integrity. As part of this process, he forced his record company to allow him to use his original surname of Mellencamp. Following a new album in '84, Uh Huh and two more top 10 singles, John released another breakthrough album in 1985. The excellent Scarecrow. Scarecrow saw John go back even further exploring his Rock n Roll roots with a 50/60s rock vibe that gave the album a simpler and more organic feel and produced three brilliant singles.
After this trio of Rock n roll albums, John decided to change direction. This, for me, produced the best album of his career. In a totally planned move, John and his band sought out a more folky and rootsier approach. They changed electric instruments for acoustic and brought in the excellent fiddle player Lisa Geramo to enhance this new sound.
All of the album is worthy of inclusion here but I shall stick to the 3 hit singles which give a true flavour of the new sound John and his band created for The Lonesome Jubilee.

John has always stuck by his working class roots and has been a champion of 'the common man' and was one of the founding members of the US movement Farm Aid.

He has continued to make quality albums but has not has the same huge success since his mid 80s glory years. But his music has not suffered for that and he makes no compromises on his music so it remains as thoughtful and relevant today.

Indeed, John's latest venture is to work with the legends that are Musicologist T Bone Burnett & Author Stephen King on a new musical - The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.
Twitter - @johnmellencamp

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