Category: John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp – American Fool

ARTIST: John Cougar (Mellencamp)          220px-JC_American_Fool

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.

John Mellencamp – Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did

ARTIST: John Cougar (Mellencamp)                 220px-Nothin_matters_and_what_if_it_did

TITLE:  Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #37

SINGLES:  This Time (#27), Ain’t Even Done with the Night (#17, #44 Mainstream Rock), Hot Night in a Cold Town

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nothing else made radio, not even in Indiana

LINEUP: John Cougar, Doc Rosser, Mike Wanchic, Larry Crane, Rick Shlosser, Ed Green, Robert Frank with some other studio help.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Standard album-oriented rock album from standard album-oriented rock artists with a couple of singles with good pop licks, and a couple of throwaways.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” showed that John “Cougar” had the potential to write meaningful pop/rock songs without compromising his image, whatever that was. That song and “This Time” were definitely nice to hear on the radio back in 1980.

The rest of the album is OK. It’s probably decent to kick back on the porch with cold ones playing cornhole while the grill is going. Sure, why not. There are two small snippets of songs that aren’t really songs and they’re exiled. No loss.

Mellencamp’s next album would be the game changer for him, but even if he stopped here, he’d have a few singles under his belt that were decent enough for him to have some legacy.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Steve Cropper produced this. Mellencamp thought it turned out too poppy but I think it hit the right note.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B: He did a lot worse in his early career, and this set the stage for his superstardom to follow. A little bonus for a great album title, a phrase I still try to work into conversation.

John Mellencamp – John Cougar

ARTIST: John Mellencamp John_Cougar_Album
TITLE: John Cougar
YEAR RELEASED: 1979
CHART ACTION: #64
SINGLES: I Need a Lover (#28 US, #5 Australia), Taxi Dancer, Small Paradise (#87), A Little Night Dancin;’ (#105), Miami (#31 Australia)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Well, only if you’re a Cougar / Mellencamp zealot
LINEUP: John Mellencamp, Brian Becvar, Larry Crane, Mike Wanchic, Robert Frank, Tom Knowles
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hoosier rocker gets a hit in Australia from an album not even released in the US, and adds it to a new collection of mediocre album rock.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: BTW – I am skipping the first two albums AND the one consisting of early tracks that was released in the midst of his first rise to stardom. The second one I’m skipping because the only key track is also here, and it wasn’t really released here until much later. The others are just bad, and don’t really feature anything you’d want at all.

Hoosier John Mellencamp, then known as John Cougar (after a stint as Johnny Cougar, ick) had a hit single in Australia with his to-date best song “I Need a Lover”. After being dropped from his original record deal, he used that leverage to get re-signed and released an album containing that song and some new tracks.

“I Need a Lover” is great. “A Little Night Dancin’” is good. “Miami” and “Small Paradise” are fair. The rest – you can skip. At this stage, Mellencamp just had generic rock songs and his band was really just a bar band in style and execution. Good for a Friday night with a few Budweisers, not so great as an album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album was called “Miami” in Australia.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There’s a bonus track.

GRADE: C: Upgraded for “I Need a Lover” because that song kicks butt.