Before anyone starts putting their hands up in a Arnold Horshak moment to tell that his name is now John Mellancamp, let me just say that as far as I’m concerned, in 1982, he was simply John Cougar. I remember watching a tv interview with him and he explained the reason behind the name change. Simply, he was advised by his agent that Mellancamp wasn’t a rock and roll name. Therefore, he took on the name Cougar in order to sound more hard rock. It was only when he achieved commercial success that he retook his real surname and then eventually dropped the Cougar all together but that story is for some time down the future.
“American Fool” was the commercial breakthrough album for John Cougar featuring the hit singles “Hurt So Good,” my second favourite song of his and the more known “Jack And Diane,” which got so much air play at the time that I got tired of hearing it. It would be at least another decade and a half before I finally could enjoy that song again.
Keeping with the trend in 1982, those two songs lead off the album but fortunately, like many of the albums covered so far from 1982, the rest of the album has more behind it. The songs on the album all have the vibe of straight forward no nonsense rock and roll that Cougar said he was trying to achieve. I have to agree, while “American Fool” isn’t a head banger, there is some good guitar hard rock to go around. In fact, I must say that after a renewed listen, I’m quite impressed with some of the guitar work on it. Sure, there’s no blood curdling solos but the guitars do enhance the feel good factor. One of those albums you listen to while driving in the car or sitting on the front step with a beer in hand, though I wouldn’t recommend it this time of year. Tracks that really impress me were “Danger List” and “Can You Take It” but needless to say, the other tracks are worth a listen as well. John Cougar livened up those summer months of that year when I was actually in the States.
1. Hurt So Good
2. Jack and Diane
3. Hand to Hold On To
4. Danger List
5. Can You Take It
6. Thundering Hearts
7. China Girl
8. Close Enough
9. Weakest Moments
10. American Fool
John Cougar- lead vocals
Larry Krane- guitar, backing vocals
Mike Wanchic- guitar, backing vocals
Kenny Aronoff- drums
George ‘Chocolate’ Perry- bass
Mick Ronson- guitar, backing vocals
Robert ‘Ferd’ Frank- bass, backing vocals
Eric Rosser- keyboards
David Parman- backing vocals
I think that “American Fool” came at a perfect time when you could play straight forward rock without being catagorised into something else. I have met people a couple of years after this album who considered John Cougar to be heavy metal. No way, but it is enjoyable good rock.
Next post: The Jam- The Gift
To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html
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