Archive for John Cougar

Great Rock Albums of 1985: John Cougar Mellencamp- Scarecrow

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2018 by 80smetalman

With both heavy metal and synth pop polarizing a lot of musical tastes in 1985, many people claimed that they just wanted to hear some straight forward, old time rock and roll. For a lot of these people, the “Scarecrow” album from John Cougar Mellencamp gave them just that. I can’t really disagree with that thought. While I was firmly seated in the heavy metal camp back then, I still appreciated the no frills rock the album provided. It’s probably why the album made it to number two on the album charts.

For the singles enthusiasts, “Scarecrow” netted five of them, all of which got inside the top thirty. This provides further evidence that many Americans wanted this type of straight forward rock. Because that is basically what the album is full of, eleven good no frills rock tunes. Okay, maybe the second track doesn’t qualify as such but the other ten for sure. The singles “Small Town,” “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “R.O.CK. in the USA” are still remembered and enjoyed today. All three are good steady rock tunes. Less remembered however, is my personal favourite, “Rain on the Scarecrow.” This dark song highlights the tragedy of American farmers at the time as many of them were going bankrupt and having their farms repossessed by the banks. I’m tempted to go into a political rant here but I’ll desist. What “Rain on the Scarecrow” did do for me was make me take John seriously as a song writer.

Not being one to judge an album by its singles, I can safely say that the rest of the album holds up well. Even though “Justice and Independence 85” and “Minutes to Memories” were never released as singles, they still made it onto the Hot Tracks Chart and I can see why. Furthermore, John’s more topical songwriting features in the former of the two and continues with “Face of a Nation” where he sings about the poverty and homelessness that was happening in the mid 1980s at the time. What I conclude here is that John Cougar Mellencamp’s more developed songwriting combined with straight forward rock, which a lot of Americans were craving for at the time, combined to make “Scarecrow” probably his best album at the time.

Track Listing:

  1. Rain on the Scarecrow
  2. Grandma’s Theme (In the Baggage Coach Ahead)
  3. Small Town
  4. Minutes to Memories
  5. Lonely Ol’  Night
  6. The Face of the Nation
  7. Justice and Independence ’85
  8. Between and Laugh and a Tear
  9. Rumbleseat
  10. You Gotta Stand for Somethin’
  11. R.O.C.K. in the USA

John Cougar Mellencamp

John Mellencamp- guitar, lead vocals, harmonica on Small Town

Larry Crane- guitars, backing vocals

Kenny Aranoff- drums, percussion, tambourine, backing vocals

Mike Wanchic- electric guitar, backing vocals

Toby Myers- bass, backing vocals

John Cascella- keyboards

Rickie Lee Jones- vocals on “Between a Laugh and a Tear”

Sarah Flint- backing vocals on “R.O.CK. in the USA”

Laura Mellemcamp (John’s Grandmother)- lead vocal on “Grandma’s Theme”

Mimi Mapes- backing vocals on “Minutes to Midnight”

A. Jack Wilkins- saxophone on “Justice and Independence 85”

Richard Fanning- trumpet on “Justice and Independence 85”

In a 1985 that seemed to be polarizing musically, it was a relief to many that there could be straight forward rock around at the time. Not only would John Cougar Mellencamp release a top album, he would go on to arrange a benefit concert to help America’s bankrupt farmers but that’s a story for another time.

Next post: My Christmas Top Ten Revisited

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://c-newfreepdf.cf/olddocs/free-download-online-rock-and-roll-children-pdf-1609763556-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great(ish) Soundtracks of 1984: Footloose

Posted in 1980s, films, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, soundtracks, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2017 by 80smetalman

 

There was a very strange trend in regards to movie soundtracks in the mid 1980s. It seems that in order to appeal to all forms of music lovers, there would be songs representing nearly every genre. There would be some trendy pop songs, some rock, some soul oriented songs and even a heavy metal jam or two. This is exactly the case with the soundtrack for the film, “Footloose” which came out in the very beginning for this year.

Let’s start with the trendy. Kenny Loggins was already known for hit songs from soundtracks. He achieved it with the 1980 film, “Caddyshack.” So, it was no surprise that he sings the title track to the film. It has always been one of those songs I’ve neither loved or hated. The “Footloose” soundtrack also gave one hit wonder Deneice Williams her one hit with “Let’s Hear it For the Boy.” That song seemed to be on every AM radio station during the summer of 1984. I’ve heard worse but I’ve certainly heard far better. On the other hand, the soundtrack was unable to give 1982 one hit wonder Karla Banoff her second hit. It’s a song that’s just there. Then comes the usual practice of using former hits like Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero.” Finally, there’s the let’s take two singers from established bands and have them do a duet for the soundtrack. Cue, Mike Reno of Loverboy and Ann Wilson from Heart with “Almost Paradise.” It was supposed to be a power ballad that draws rock lovers and top forty fans together but no, it doesn’t. Both singers do a good job on the song and it’s better than most of the other tracks but not good enough to get into my top power ballad list.

Let’s side track for a moment. I have an experience with “Almost Paradise.” Mrs 80smetalman and I chose it for our wedding at our local registry office. Three weeks before our wedding, we get a letter from the registrar stating that we can’t use the song because it has religious connotations, which is not allowed at a civil wedding in the UK. I wonder if they would have said the same if I asked for a Deicide song.

Back to the point, “Dancing in the Sheets” by Shalamar was a definite attempt by the movie makers to appeal to music lovers of African origin. It’s like, let’s put in a song by a black band and black people will buy the soundtrack. That’s my take on it. Now, for true rock lovers like me and you, there’s the classic John Cougar song, “Hurt So Good” and another attempt to bridge the rock/top 40 gap, let’s bring back the Foreigner classic ballad, “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” Now to the metal, we got the great “Metal Health” by the then up and coming Quiet Riot but for me the best song on this soundtrack has to be Sammy Hagar’s “The Girl Gets Around.” Maybe someone heard the “Heavy Metal” soundtrack and said, “Hey, let’s use a Sammy Hagar song.” At least they chose a good one.

A note about the film: “Footloose” is about a teenage boy, played by Kevin Bacon, who moves into a small town, which is run by people who are anti-music. The local reverend is the spearhead of the anti-rock campaign. Of course, Kevin and the music win the day and music is allowed in the town but maybe Hollywood was onto something here. The religious right’s war on music was just in the early stages in 1984 and maybe this film could be a prophecy of things that could come about. It’s something to think about. Oh yes, the track by unknown band Moving Pictures called “Never” isn’t bad but it never (pun intended) made me want to explore their discography.

Track Listing:

  1. Footloose- Kenny Loggins
  2. Let’s Hear it For the Boy- Deneice Williams
  3. Almost Paradise- Mike Reno and Ann Williams
  4. Holding Out For a Hero- Bonnie Tyler
  5. Dancing in the Sheets- Shalamar
  6. I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)- Kenny Loggins
  7. Somebody’s Eyes- Karla Bonoff
  8. The Girl Gets Around- Sammy Hagar
  9. Never- Moving Pictures
  10. Metal Health (Bang Your Head)- Quiet Riot
  11. Hurt So Good- John Cougar
  12. Waiting for a Girl Like You- Foreigner
  13. Dancing in the Sheets (12 inch mix)- Shalamar

Quiet Riot

Bonnie Tyler

John Cougar Mellencamp

Foreigner

Sammy Hagar

“Footloose” wouldn’t be the only film whose soundtrack got the ‘corporate’ treatment. While there’s something for everyone, at least it’s thought so, there’s not enough songs here for me to ever go out and buy the album. Besides, I already have the tracks I do like from here on other albums.

Next post: Streets of Fire

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1507754027&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

1983- Triumphs and Tragedies

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2016 by 80smetalman
The Alamo

The Alamo

The only tragedy I remember from 1983 actually happened the year before. Due to my military service, I didn’t find out about it until 83 when I read about all the fallout from it. I’m talking about when Ozzy Osbourne pissed on the Alamo. He claims he was drunk as a skunk, (I’ve never seen a drunk skunk so I have nothing to compare it to.) Ozzy also said he didn’t know it was such a national shrine, well it is in Texas. The result of his action got him banned from the city of San Antonio for ten years, although that was lifted a few years later when he made a large donation to the Alamo charity.

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy was already getting himself a reputation outside the heavy metal world for the wrong reasons. His infamous biting the head off a bat was making its rounds. Of course, the religious element in America embellished things further. There were rumours he blew up goats on stage and at one show, he supposedly threw a puppy into the crowd and said he wouldn’t sing anymore until the audience killed the puppy. While this was all untrue hype, it didn’t help Ozzy when he actually did something for real. So for Ozzy and somewhat in the metal world, this was a bit of a tragedy because it overshadowed the two albums he released in the year. I’ll be covering those soon enough.

Now for the triumphs. It seems that 1983 was a cool year for festivals. I got to go to two of them. The first one, I mentioned when I posted about the Nantucket and Doc Holliday albums a few months ago. Those two bands topped the bill at the Mayfair Festival at Jacksonville, North Carolina. The other five bands remain pretty much unheard of with the bottom three being cover bands. So, I thought I’d include them in this little piece of history. They were Skeet Kelly, Roxy, Avalanche- who did a great cover of Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal,” Peer Pressure- who did a reasonably decent cover of John Cougar’s “Hurt So Good” and Eraxle- who closed their set with a fantastic cover of Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man.” I consumed loads of alcohol and there were some interesting events between the bands like a wet t-shirt and a men’s ugly legs competition. A fine day from what I remember.

Nantucket

Nantucket

Military commitments kept me from attending this festival but my sister went. I tried to pick her brains but she didn’t remember much. In the June, Journey headlined in Philadelphia and with them were John Cougar, Sammy Hagar, The Tubes and Bryan Adams. From what she can remember, my sister says that Journey sounded great and had a fantastic light show. John Cougar and Bryan Adams were both very good as was Sammy Hagar despite his red spandex. Unfortunately, The Tubes weren’t up to the rest of those who played that day. If this line up played in more cities than Philly, I would love to hear your account of the day.

Journey Live

Journey Live

It didn’t matter that I was in the military for this one, I couldn’t have gone to the US Festival because it was 3000 miles away in California. The US Festival was a three day festival where the first day consisted of new wave bands, the second day’s line up was heavy metal and the third day’s was a rock line up. From what I heard, all three days were fantastic although I do recall an interview with a local sheriff saying that he was going to try to ban such events following the festival. I didn’t think about it then, but that was the first salvo fired at music in the 1980s. I think the best thing to do is just to let you look at the line up for the three days and I’m sure you will be just as awestruck as I was.

Us Festival Showbill

Us Festival Showbill

I did get to the final festival in 1983. This was my first Donington Festival as I happened to be in England at the time. From my memory, I can recall that Diamond Head were all right and Dio were very good. I didn’t twig on who the lead singer was until they played “Heaven and Hell” but that was okay. They were brilliant. Then came Twisted Sister. I can still remember Dee Snider’s quip: “We’re not Culture Club or any of those gay boys or Duran Duran nor any of those other wimps. We’re Twisted Sister and we play heavy metal rock and roll!” Of course I knew there must of been something about them when they were introduced as Twisted Fuckin’ Sister. Their music was great too.

For me, ZZ Top took the concert. They played a magnificent combination of old and new material during their time on stage. Of course it helped that they played my two favourite ZZ Top tunes, “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “La Grange.” They also played quite a few songs off their new “Eliminator” album so they basically rocked. The big let down after ZZ Top was Meatloaf. I was not impressed, he just sounded terrible that day. Worse, my friend’s English girlfriend didn’t realize that they ran a special train after the concert so out of fear of getting stuck, we left early and missed headliners, Whitesnake. I remain gutted but overall, Donington 1983 was a kick ass day and proved that Great Britain could rock.

donfest83

 

That was 1983 in a nutshell. The only real tragedy was Ozzy pissing on a national shrine but all the great concert festivals more than compensated for it. Just posting about it has me psyched for Bloodstock in two weeks. It was no wonder I was super excited when I got out of the marines that year.

Next post: Great Soundtracks

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: John Cougar Mellencamp- Uh Huh

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2016 by 80smetalman

John_Cougar_Mellencamp-Uh-Huh_(album_cover)

One type of person whom most other people in the world find annoying is the guy who acts all tough but clearly isn’t. This was a major problem for John Cougar Mellencamp back in the early 1980s, especially in the eyes of many metalheads. My sister saw him live in 1983 along with Journey (who headlined,) Sammy Hagar, The Tubes and Bryan Adams. Anyway, while Cougar was on stage, ( he hadn’t reclaimed is family name yet), someone threw something onto the stage. In response, John called out, “Hey mother f*cker, throw some shit up here again and I’ll come down and stomp on your ass.” While this was amusing, I remember one friend who said that he would have thrown something else at the stage so he could kick John Cougar’s ass because Cougar was a wimp.

JCM’s 1983 album “Uh Huh” established him as a true American rock act and many of my British friends agree. My thoughts on the album was while it wasn’t a metal album, it was still hard enough for metalheads to enjoy. I have always enjoyed “Uh Huh,” even the singles, which are the first three songs on the album. “Crumblin’ Down,” “Pink Houses” and “The Authority Song” were all good tunes that stretched across the barriers that were being erected in music back then. They had a commercial appeal and a hard rock enough sound that no one who liked those songs would be accused of leaving their chosen camp. Of the three, “The Authority Song” is my favourite because it highlights perfectly the phase I was going through at the time. It was kind of and I stress kind of my theme song for a brief period.

After the three singles, there is still plenty of straightforward American rock and roll to be had. “Play Guitar” and “Lovin’ Mother Fo Ya” definitely qualify but the best song of all on the album has to be “Serious Business.” The lyrics alone make the song for me. I mean how could one not like lyrics that go :

“This is serious business, sex and violence and rock and roll.”

Hell, I’m singing those lyrics now as I type this. This is why I found “Uh Huh” to be such and enjoyable album. John Cougar Mellencamp has a bit of fun on it.

Track Listing:

  1. Crumblin’ Down
  2. Pink Houses
  3. The Authority Song
  4. Warmer Place to Sleep
  5. Jackie O
  6. Play Guitar
  7. Serious Business
  8. Lovin’ Mother Fo Ya
  9. Golden Gates
John Cougar Mellencamp

John Cougar Mellencamp

John Cougar Mellencamp- vocals

Larry Crane- guitar

Kenny Aronoff- drums, percussion

Toby Myers- bass

Mike Wanchic- guitar, backing vocals

Louis Johnson- bass

Carol Sue Hill- vocals

Maggie Ryder- vocals

Jay Ferguson- vocals

When I was teaching full time, I did an American theme in a cookery lesson which the class was making sloppy joes and corn dogs. One of my British colleagues remarked at this, “Sloppy Joes and corn dogs, it sounds like a John Mellencamp song.” Yes, many people outside the US regard John Cougar Mellencamp as truly and American artist, especially with some of the topics he sings about in later albums. That was before “Uh Huh,” where while there are some hidden themes, it’s still a fun rocker of an album.

Next post: Dave Edmunds- Information

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1982: Fleetwood Mac- Mirage

Posted in 1979, 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Fleetwood_Mac_-_Mirage

Back in 1982, music video was still very new to many artists. MTV had only been up and running for a year and there were many households throughout the USA who did not have the channel. There would have been no way that having it on any of the base televisions would have even remotely considered. Therefore, the only music video I got to see was if I happened to catch “America’s Top Ten” and that wasn’t something I went out of my way to watch, unlike “World Championship Wrestling.” So, it was just luck of the draw that I managed to catch it on one Saturday. That week, REO Speedwagon and John Cougar had the only songs I thought of any worth in the top ten but then Casey Kasem showed the video for the new single from Fleetwood Mac, “Gypsy.” I liked the song, thought the video was okay and was glad to hear that they had put out a new album.

“Mirage” is a pretty good album, the problem for me and I suppose many people, is that after putting out an album like “Rumours” five years earlier, it would always be an extremely difficult feat to measure up to. Back in 1979, I should have seen the “Tusk” album as a sign. The problem with “Mirage”  and “Tusk” for that fact is that it lacks the variety of the all time great. While listening to “Mirage,” I patiently waited for a rocking jam like “Go Your Own Way” or a killer guitar solo from Lindsey Buckingham similar to “Don’t Stop.” Plus, I don’t think it would have been too much to ask if they allowed John McVie to pump out a killer bass line like on “The Chain.” Even an amusing little ditty like “Second Hand News” would have been cool, but none of these things are present on “Mirage.”

Enough of the negative because it is still an enjoyable album. One thing that does come over from the “Rumours” album and I’ve always loved her dearly for it, is the eccentricity of Stevie Nicks. It’s her vocals on “Gypsy” that made me check out the album in the first place. She does a similar job on “Straight Back.” That is the first track where Buckingham stops being introverted with his guitar and plays a decent solo. That combination makes it the best track on the album for me.

If it was up to me, I would have left the first four tracks of this album off and started it with “Gypsy.” From there on is where the album shines with tracks like “Hold Me” and a little bit of “Second Hand News” humour on “Empire State.” The closer, “Wish You Were Here,” is where Lindsey finally gets into full swing with the guitar making it the best song contributed by Christine McVie. That track gives an all well that ends well feel to things.

Track Listing:

1. Love in Store

2. Can’t Go Back

3. That’s Alright

4. Book of Love

5. Gypsy

6. Only Over You

7. Empire State

8. Straight Back

9. Hold Me

10. Oh Diane

11. Eyes of the World

12. Wish You Were Here

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac

Lindsey Buckingham- guitar, vocals, keyboards

Christine McVie- keyboards, vocals

Stevie Nicks- vocals

John McVie- bass

Mick Fleetwood- drums, percussion

My advice to anyone who wants to listen to “Mirage” by Fleetwood Mac is to not think about “Rumours.” The albums don’t compare and you may feel disappointed. If you listen to it with an open mind, you will find the album very much enjoyable. It was still one of the better softer rock albums in 1982.

Next post: Night Ranger- Dawn Patrol

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1982: John Cougar- American Fool

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-JC_American_Fool

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.

Arnold Horshak from the TV show Welcome Back Kotter

Arnold Horshak from the TV show Welcome Back Kotter

“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.

Track Listing:

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

John Cougar

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

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London