Album Review: “Uh-huh” By John Cougar Mellencamp

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Against all odds, he let his rebellious temper too long restrained by his manager take over and decided to do as he pleased. The best way to assert his personality was first to take his real name, Mellencamp, from where the John Cougar-Mellencamp of the cover (thereafter, he would completely abandon this Cougar which had been imposed on him in his beginnings ). Then to record the album he had always dreamed of making.

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While most artists who have experienced the unexpected intoxication of success find themselves very helpless when it comes to returning to the studio and lose a lot of time in vain procrastination (clumsy attempts to compose a copy of the previous tubes, endless sessions of ‘recording, the dictatorship of the fashionable producer), for fear of falling from their pedestal and reliving the galleys of yesteryear, John Mellencamp simply decided to take his foot, to record what he liked, in a minimum of time and with a stripped-down production. It was also a way to take revenge on his few wanderings of youth. Uh-Huh, so …

The syncopated and Estonian Crumblin’Down takes us immediately to the guts … Immediately we are carried away by this rhythm and this voice of small tingling strike …

Follows the most melodic Pink Houses which allows Mellencamp to highlight, through a more social and disillusioned discourse, his Dylanian sensitivity and fiber.

Back to the big rock that stains with the excellent Authority Song, its impeccable riff, its irresistible verses, and its dirty rock’n’roll solo. What better way to close this first side than another wild rock, this Warmer Place To Sleep with a refrain as heady as that of Crumblin’Down.

Things then calm down with the Jackie O bluette, a pleasant but not unforgettable ballad.

And it hits again with the second single, the hard-hitting Play Guitar. No need to develop, everything is said in the title …

Two more nuggets of basic, sincere and authentic rock: the incisive Serious Business, led by this drummer who sounds like the great Charlie Watts and Lovin’Mother For Ya, syncopated rhythms and bawdy choirs. At times, one has the impression of hearing falls from Exile On Main Street: it is by chance the album of the Stones that Mellencamp prefers …

The album ends with the splendid Golden Gates, a beautiful song more ambitious and sophisticated, full of nostalgia and dealing with those disappointed with the American dream. At 32, Mellencamp could now express himself in a more mature way.

He was also perfectly aware of what he had achieved when he described his baby in the trade press: “An honest record with minimal production. (…) I would like this album to be a return from crank in the mouth of synthetic shit which, in the United States, triumphs. ” 

Even if it is often forgotten in the rankings, Uh-Huh remains one of the best albums of 1983. A record that evokes the best of the Stones (in 83, we can even admit that the student exceeded largely the masters).