Time can do great things to artists' music: the music can mature,
evolve, expand and flourish. Unfortunately, there exists an opposite
process: the loss of musical ingenuity. This, I feel is true in the
cases of Bryan Adams and John Mellencamp. These two musicians started
out in the late YOs, Adams hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia
and Mellencamp from Indiana, in the heart of the American midwest.
They bad raw, youthful sound and wore leather and jeans jackets. Mellencamp
had an especially rebellious look about him since he drove a motorcycle
and changed his name to Johnny Cougar, to support his image.
Adams sung about the thrill of being young and alive, embodied In
the rock anthem "Summer of '69" (never mind that he was only six in
1969). Mellencamp wrote of the same feelings ("Jack and Diane", 1982),
but then turned to more heartfelt subjects like society, identity,
and age with his 1985 breakthrough album, "Scarecrow." The songs on
it tell the story of the midwest and its people, sung passionately
by Mellencamp, who had by then reinserted his last name.
Adams' songs got more radio air time and were consequently infused
into "POP" music. His greatest success was "Everything I do, I do
it for you, which came from the "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" soundtrack
He then released a best-selling greatest hits compilation called "So
far so good." Adams got the red carpet treatment from MTV and radio
stations across the world. Mellencamp, on the other band got less
global coverage, the proof of which lies in the total absence of air
time he gets from London radio stations. Bryan Adams' last album,
entitled "18 'till die" is unfortunately a very poor showing. The
first single "The only thing that looks good on me (is you)" is musically
bland and lyrically boring; the video, does not help: Adams parades
amongst dozens of models, clearly hinting that he thinks he is a rock
god. The title song is just as weak, but is weakened even more by
the fact that the singer is in his 30s, and-that the song should have
been sung precisely when he was 18.
Mellencamp's latest musical creation, "Mr. Happy Go Lucky" (Co-produced
by New York DJ Junior, Vasquez) is about the singer's state of mind;
and what a state of mind... images of drinking with gangsters, side
by side with literary hints at J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.
But that of course, is not the problem; the album just doesn't go
anywhere. Even though "Scarecrow" had songs about love alongside songs
about society, Mellencamp kept some sort of continuity going. Furthermore,
the album has dark overtones (musically and lyrically) which make
listening to it a thoroughly depressing experience. -As Bryan Adams
sung in "Summer of'69". And when I look back then, the summer seemed
to last for ever, and if I had a choice, I'd always want to be there..."
It looks as though the summer is unfortunately-, on hiatus.