Mr. Happy Go Lucky (1996)

1. Overture 2. Jerry 3. Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) 4. Just Another Day 5. This May Not Be the End of the World 6. Emotional Love 7. Mr. Bellows 8. The Full Ctastrophe 9. Circling Around the Moon 10.Large World Turning 11.Jackamo Road 12.Life is Hard


There are so many adjectives that one can use to describe this album. Especially considering the fact that it came from John Mellencamp. "Diverse", "Weird", "Danceable" or downright "Strange". I prefer "Incredible", even though all of the others would fit quite well. After a mild heart attack and a brief R&R time, Mellencamp does what nobody expected that he would ever do, and that is to put out a release such as this one that is so different from anything he has ever done.

Sorry, but it is "dance oriented" - although purists will cry "foul". If you ever have the urge to get out on a dancefloor and boogie to John Mellencamp, all you really need is this record. The thing that makes this so fascinating is that Mellencamp actually makes this thing work. He manages to incorporate so many styles and textures of dance music, yet always stays true to his form. Not once does he go overboard. It has been said that true artists can make wonderful music of any genre, regardless of what they are well known for, and Mellencamp proves them right.

As mentioned, he stays true to his roots. There are a lot of "voice loops" etc. that you would expect on a dance album, but Mellencamp doesn't use hip 20 year olds - he uses folks in their golden years that he probably found sitting on the front porch of the county grocery store. He also uses such effects sparingly, so you're not overwhelmed. This isn't an album of "effects", but purely crafted, well written songs.

The lead single, Key West Intermezzo (I Saw Your First), is the first single and the best thing on the album. It's incredibly infectious, and it's too bad that Mellencamp's popularity was not what it once was. Other highlights include Just Another Day and The Full Catastrophe.

Of course, this is John Mellencamp, so even if this is the most "happy go lucky" we've ever seen of him, that's not to say that the album isn't filled with the typical heavy themes that one would come to expect. He just delivers his messages a bit more subtle, and, for once, the lyrics seemed to be buried a bit behind the wealth of the variety of instruments. This was a nice change. In a way, you could argue that this was his "Sergeant Pepper" and one wishes that he would have maybe put out more of the same. Of course, that may have diluted the works a bit and made this one not stand out as quite as well as it did. He proved he was a genius.

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