Picks and Pans Review: Uh-Huh
Mellencamp (once known as Johnny Cougar but now apparently phasing out that stage name) grew up in Seymour, Ind. chasing fast cars, fast girls and trouble. In his early 20s he discovered he could create songs and, rung by rung, has climbed the slippery ladder of the rock world. Now he's 32; this, his sixth album, is a follow-up to American Fool, his best-seller of 1982. Here, as before, he finds his material in his rowdy Midwestern youth. The opener is a defiant Crumblin' Down, an homage to the Stones' Tumbling Dice. Pink Houses is a melancholy American anthem about the quiet comfort and desperation of '80s life. And in Authority Song he gleefully tweaks the beaks of convention's custodians ("I been doin' it since I was a young kid and I come out grinnin'/ I fight authority, authority always wins"). Like Bruce Springsteen, Mellencamp has refined his writing to the point where his songs are not just emotional honks but little tales full of the vagaries of life.