Whenever We Wanted (1991)

1. Love and Happiness 2. Now More Than Ever 3. I Ain't Never Satisfied 4. Get a Leg Up 5. Crazy Ones 6. Last Chance 7. They're So Tough 8. Melting Pot 9. Whenever We Wanted 10.Again Tonight


On this release, Mellencamp surprised quite a bit of folks by returning to his rock and roll roots - something that he had been lightly shedding his skin from on his past several albums. Whether he just needed a bit of a change or not, I'm not that sure, and this listener has no problem with this serious artist going back to his Johnny Cougar days. The problem here is that the songs just aren't that good overall. Yes, there are some hidden gems throughout the mix, but he fails more than he succeeds, which tends to make the listening experience a bit of a disappointment.

The opening song, Love and Happiness sort of sums up the feel of the whole album. The riff starts out powerful enough, and does a good job setting up expectations for the album, but the song quickly fizzles. It never really takes off with any memorable hooks, and, well....., after listening to the very first lines of the track, "Well we're droppin' off bombs/ in the Southern Hemisphere...." you know you're in store for another one of Mellencamp's bitch-fests. Then, halfway through the song, there's a screeching, horrible saxaphone solo that I would advise you not to listen to if you have in a pair of earbuds. Fortunately, his gripes are more inward as opposed to outward, but it's quickly becoming apparent that this guy was destined to be miserable.

As mentioned, there are a few good songs, ironically the album tends to get better as the tracks progress. Ironic because most records that have some sub-par material tend to "front load" as opposed to "back load". The best song on here is the first single Get a Leg Up, and it's a bit sad that most of the other songs on here don't have quite the same conviction and energy. Also worth mentioning is the somewhat fun Crazy Ones and the very last song Again Tonight.

Maybe he couldn't write the same kind of songs that made him a star a decade or so ago, and maybe he realizes that here. His music would still change from album to album, and although he never abandoned rock and roll completely, he would never quite rock this hard again.

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