ARTIST: John Cougar (Mellencamp)
TITLE: American Fool
YEAR RELEASED: 1982
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #37 UK
SINGLES: Hurts So Good (#2, #1 Mainstream), Jack & Diane (#1 US, #3 Mainstream, #25 UK), Thundering Hearts (#36 Mainstream), Hand to Hold on To (#19 US, #89 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No one knew the deep cuts
LINEUP: John Cougar (Mellencamp), Larry Crane, Mike Wanchic, Kenny Aronoff, George Perry with help by Mick Ronson (!)
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The breakthrough finally happens, thanks to MTV and constant touring.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: John Cougar finally, finally struck the big time after a few years of regional success thanks to “Hurts So Good”, a catchy rock-and-roll fun-time number with a great video. The Hoosier then became a household name with “Jack and Diane” – really one of the most polarizing songs of the 80’s. You either loved it, or wish it didn’t exist. (I fall into the latter camp).
The album that follows those songs isn’t horrible – it could be said “Jack and Diane” is the worst song there (well, I say it). There are a couple of other high points, but we definitely have a mostly hit+filler situation here – with the hits coming at the beginning and the second side of the LP may have been almost totally neglected on turntables and cassette decks.
There’s some progress here on the songwriting front, and he’s not afraid to be sentimental, but songs like “China Girl” (not the Bowie / Pop track) hold him back, along with…you know.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The record company almost cancelled this record and released him.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: One bonus track, the title track.
GRADE: B-: It was a huge album, but it has a lot of meh filler.