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His reply was unusually honest for commercial TV, saying that he was still trying to "find" his voice and was unsure about his current direction. This album represents where Cougar was at back then, and is a snapshot of a certain time. He would go on to develop and hone his instincts in later releases but this is a fair starting point.
By the way: this album is not his debut - that "honour" belongs to John's 1976 album "Chestnut Street Incident", followed by "The Kid Inside".
"I Need a Lover" is one of the best songs here, and became his first hit, peaking at #28 on the Top 100 in 1979. I love the extended piano and guitar introduction; Mellencamp's vocals don't kick in until the 2:30 mark. Another highlight is the hard-rocking "Miami." The chorus is arresting, replete with handclaps similar to "Jack of Diane." In addition, the instrumentation is interesting and reminds me a bit of his later song "Key West Intermezzo."
"Great Mid-West" is another interesting song, as it really shows the direction he'd eventually move - chronicling the lives of people who live a simple life in the heartland. The opening couplet is fantastic - "Everything is slower here/ everybody's got a union card." The music for the song, though, doesn't quite jell, especially the heavy-metal style guitar licks. Indeed the major drawback of the CD is the slickness that creeps in here and there. Clearly, Mellencamp's label wanted him to be a vapid rock idol. However, Mellencamp's writing skills help keep the CD on track, and the highlights definitely cover the rough patches. Overall, although not as skillful as Mellencamp's later CDs, "John Cougar" is worthwhile.
Yes, the album John Cougar has a strong late-seventies sound; what's wrong with that? I like so many tracks on it, some I love, especially `Sugar Marie' **** and `A Little Night Dancin' ***(*) These you can indeed dance to, they are cheeky numbers lyrically but remain adorable musically. Dare I say, the beginning of Sugar Marie, makes me think of some good Neil Young? and 'A Little Night Dancin' is reminicent of 1974 'Los Angelinos' by Billy Joel. `Small Paradise' *** starts with some keyboards and some nearly-flamenco guitar, then the drums wake you up and the electric guitar has a say, but there is something touching in the lyrics behind the naughtiness (it's the way, he says "Alright then, hold me tight and kiss me"!) It's perfect to dance and kiss to (trust me). Another track to smooch to, while slow dancing is `Taxi Dancer' **(*) a re-worked version from the 1977 album A Biography (not released in the US). In '77, JM's voice sounded very young, two years later it is huskier and makes the tale more believable. The 1st version was slower with a hesitating sax, in fact, a sort of acoustic version of this 1979 version, which I think is very good with sweeping piano (think Billy Joel), violins and sax (think Clarence Clemons), female backing vocalists going woooo... it's nearly 5 min long, I guess the single was shorter than that. `Do You Think It's Fair' **(*) is charming, though the keyboard bridge might make you cringe.Read more ›
from Amazon. This cd has a great version of the song "Small Paradise" which is why I purchased
it But as always I can & do listen to the entire CD when i play it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this used CD to replace an obsolete cassette tape, so I obviously think it is a good record. The condition was exactly as described.Published on May 30, 2014 by Larry E. Blankenship
in my(minority)opinion this is by far mellencamp's finest album.
every song is great,especially "the great midwest","sugar marie" and the agonizingly heart-breaking... Read more
I bought this album in 1979 when it came out based on the strength of "I Need a Lover", which fortunately, was played on my local station far more than Pat Benatar's lame cover. Read morePublished on January 31, 2006 by NotMe
This album is great from beginning to end. I bought this album originally when I was in the Army stationed in Germany. I couldn't believe how listenable it was. Read morePublished on August 15, 2003 by Dexbet
first of all john mellencamp never called himself john cougar. that was stamped on him by the record labels. Read morePublished on August 9, 2003 by Robert Andrews